Tagged With take 2 interactive

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BioShock made team leader Ken Levine famous. While he renegotiates his contract with Take-Two for more money and power, there have been rumours that Levine isn't exactly Mr. Popular. More like Mr. Unpopular! Apparently, the BioShock team did not enjoy working with him. Not so says lead BioShock programmer Chris Kline:

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Who would have possibly thought that in a game filled with violence, foul language and generally deplorable behaviour, that so few who owned Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas would be so apathetic about the hidden sexual content buried deep within? Certainly not the law firms who filed a class action suit against Take-Two over the "Hot Coffee" incident, as the New York Times reports that just 2,676 of the millions who bought GTA: San Andreas have filed a compensation claim. The chance to cash in on Take-Two's legal woes ended on May 16 and the final tally must just shock you.

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Take-Two has resolved its issues with the Federal Trade Commission, clearing at least one regulatory obstacle for Electronic Arts' acquisition bid, the company revealed in an FTC filing this morning.

The U.S. District Court of Washington D.C. had asked Take-Two to show why it wasn't complying with the FTC's broad-ranging information request as it investigates potential antitrust issues for the possible combination, probably regarding the companies' sports portfolios.

For its part, Take-Two had claimed that complying with the full scope of the FTC's requests would have been too expensive and labour-intensive, and asked for "reasonable limits".

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Don't believe what the timing tells you - EA's bid for Take-Two was never about Grand Theft Auto IV. That's what EA CEO John Riccitiello told an audience of investors during William Blair & Company's annual stock conference, where he was a speaker today.

"For clarity's sake, I think you've got a slight mis-remembering of what we said", Riccitiello told an audience member who asked about capitalizing on GTA IV's release value. "We were extremely explicit that there was no possibility whatsoever that we would be able to acquire the company or close the transaction prior to the release of GTA IV".

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Since leading the team that put out BioShock, Ken Levine's been enjoying his fair share of accolades, awards and respect. But money? Well, his cash income's the same as it was pre-BioShock, something he (and his Hollywood agent) are looking at changing. Variety reports Levine's been in negotiations for months now with Take-Two, hoping to not only get the kind of money being such a big name warrants, but an increased amount of creative freedom as well. Be interesting to see how it all pans out, especially if it sets a precedent for other big-name devs to follow.

Ken Levine re-negotiating contract with Take-Two

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A U.S. District Court is asking Take-Two why they are refusing to comply with a subpoena and civil investigation demand from the Federal Trade Commission, the company reported today.

Electronic Arts wants to buy Take-Two, we all know that. And Take-Two is playing hard to get, slightly souring EA's advances. In fact, we've heard the only reason that Electronic Arts is still pushing deals at Take-Two left and right is because they want to get their Federal Trade Commission approval for the deal.

With that in hand, EA can walk from the table and return when it makes more since for everyone involved and, in theory, they wouldn't have to go through the FTC approval process again. Thing is, Take-Two now isn't playing nice with the FTC either.

In an early morning update today, Take-Two notified investors, hangers-on and attentive journalists, that the U.S. District Court of DC is ordering the company to explain why they won't comply with the FTC.

Take-Two says that they have been cooperating fully with the FTC in regards to their review of Electronic Arts' offer.

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Speaking at the Piper Jaffray Consumer Conference, the square-Jawed and wonderfully-named Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick let rip on EA Sports, choosing his fight, and his words, super-carefully:

When we go head-to-head with 'Brand X' we out-rate them significantly...We outsell them when we go head-to-head. It's sort of an unheralded achievement. This is a tough business.

On one hand, he's right! 2K's basketball and hockey games are normally top-shelf, and they've got baseball to themselves. But the "head-to-head" bit...yeah, it's dancing around that elephant in the room. 2K don't have an NFL game in the US. They don't have a football game in Europe/Asia. That's like saying my 92 Corolla can take on a Ferrari head-to-head, so long as we're going off the number of wheels and doors and not, you know. Racing.

2K Sports unheralded against EA Sports, says Zelnick

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Take-Two is keenly interested in moving further into networked gaming, microtransactions and downloadable content, executive chairman Strauss Zelnick said at the Piper Jaffray consumer conference in New York today, where he was touting Take-Two's market positioning to an audience of investors.

Zelnick said the publisher is currently testing in-game ads for its sports titles "pretty aggressively", and is also experimenting with ways to add microtransactions into the mix across its franchises. The idea, said Zelnick, is to "turn packaged goods partially into a subscription business, and drive some of the volatility out". Plain language? Digitally-distributed business models like pay-for-content and subscriptions are less risky than the $AU 63.44 retail box.

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Take-Two Board chairman Strauss Zelnick recently said during his company's financial results call that Electronic Arts isn't the only company interested in acquiring Take-Two. "We have had and continue to have formal discussions with a number of interested parties," he said, but another "white knight," as analysts have called it, has yet to appear.

Forbes magazine thinks it knows who the other contender could be - Ubisoft, after ruling out Activision, who's already rather busy with a very big impending merger with Vivendi.

There are a few reasons why Ubi might be a good bet:

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Don't expect the BioShock film to launch simultaneously with BioShock 2, Strauss Zelnick said on the company's call to investors today.

"It's more likely that it would be released coincident with BioShock 3 - that also remains to be seen," he added. Looks like we can expect a BioShock trilogy, at least.

An analyst also asked Zelnick whether Take-Two has any creative control over the film. Sticking strictly to financial terms, Zelnick said, "We definitely did structure this deal so that we have no economic exposure or risk... the economic exposure or risk is being borne by... Universal Pictures."

No financial risk would suggest little to no creative control, but he declined to disclose specifics of the agreement.

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Take-Two is discussing possible acquisitions with interested parties right now, Board chairman Strauss Zelnick said on the company's financial results call today.

"At the time of EA's highly conditional, unsolicited tender offer, we emphasised our board's commitment to explore all strategic alternatives, including remaining independent, and pursuing business combinations with third parties... we're actively engaged in that process now."

"In fact, we have had and continue to have formal discussions with a number of interested parties," Zelnick said.

Zelnick's comments follow numerous earlier statements he'd made that Take-Two would entertain talks with Electronic Arts following April 30th, but he declined to specify in detail who the other interested parties might be or what stage the discussions were at. When questioned by an analyst, Zelnick clarified that they were "discussions, not negotiations."

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Grand Theft Auto IV's all-time record-breaking launch drove Take-Two to $US 98.2 million in profits during its fiscal second quarter, the company announced today. This represents exponential year-over-year growth for Take-Two, who saw a loss of $US 51.2 million during the same period of 2007.

The company more than doubled its net revenues for the quarter, reporting $US 539.8 million as compared with $US 205.4 million in the second quarter of 2007, even while the company spent $US 12.4 million on the stock-based compensation plan it recently approved for its Board.

Notably, results also reveal that Take-Two has spent a total of $US 5.3 million in legal fees over the last six months, the lion's share of which have been spent fending off Electronic Arts' acquisition bid.

As for BioShock, which now heads for both the PlayStation 3 and the movie theatres, Take-Two said it has shipped 2.2 million units to date.

Board chairman Strauss Zelnick emphasised the company's overall value:

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Grand Theft Auto IV has sold 8.5 million units to date, with 11 million shipped to retail as of May 31, the company's second quarter financial results revealed today.

In its first week, GTA IV sold 6 million units, to the tune of $US 500 million in net sales.

As for BioShock, Take-Two said it had shipped over 2.2 million units since its late August debut, though GTA IV sales were the primary driver to $US 98.2 million in profits on the quarter for the publisher.

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Electronic Arts has agreed to wait on completing any potential acquisition of Take-Two until the Federal Trade Commission has completed its investigation of the possible merger, the company revealed today through an SEC filing.

Under the agreement, no transaction will be completed until the FTC has finished its probe, which can take up to 45 days instead of the customary 30.

"We've entered an agreement with the FTC to modify the scope," said an EA spokesperson. "This is a normal part of the review process, which allows us to move through the review as expeditiously as possible while giving the FTC additional time in which to complete its full review and work."

At the time EA last extended its tender offer until June 16th, corporate development VP Owen Mahoney said the extension would allow the FTC further time to complete its investigation. However, there are only 7 business days between now and the expiration of EA's current offer, not 45 - so it's reasonable to infer EA will extend its offer again to allow the FTC to fully complete its probe.

EA declined to comment on plans to extend the offer, but the spokesperson said, "You'll hear from us on or before the expiration."

The FTC also does not comment on the specific details of individual investigations.

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Pissing contest time! The chaps at Electronic Entertainment Design and Research have compiled some lovely graphs highlighting not only the average review score for each major publisher, but one showcasing the range of scores they've received as well. Note that scores only apply to current-gen console titles, so no handheld, PC or PS2 scores count. As you can see, there's a sizeable gap between the top 5 and the chasing pack, and a sizeable gap between the chasing pack and Atari, who don't even make the list. Above are the average scores, click through for the score range, which proves to be a little more interesting.