Take-Two's `Grand Theft' Fuels Rise in Game Sales

U.S. video-game sales jumped 68 percent in April, helped by the release of Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (TTWO)'s ``Grand Theft Auto IV.''

The latest version of the gangland game, released April 29, was the month's top-selling title with 2.85 million copies purchased at U.S. stores, Port Washington, New York-based researcher NPD Group Inc. said today in an e-mailed statement. Console sales rose 26 percent, led by Nintendo Co. (7974)'s Wii.

``Grand Theft Auto IV,'' about sex, crime and violence in a fictional city that resembles New York, generated a record $500 million in sales during its first week, Take-Two said on May 7. Sales surpassed the old mark of $300 million set by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)'s ``Halo 3'' in September. Sales of ``Grand Theft Auto IV'' probably will surpass 10 million units by yearend, Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian said.

``The game will have legs,'' Sebastian, based in San Francisco, said in an interview.

``Grand Theft Auto IV'' was released in versions for Microsoft's Xbox 360 console and Sony Corp. (6758)'s PlayStation 3. ``Halo 3'' is available only for the Xbox 360. Stores sold 1.85 million copies of ``Grand Theft Auto IV'' for the Xbox 360 and 1 million for PlayStation 3, NPD said.

New York-based Take-Two is resisting a hostile, $2 billion takeover attempt by Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), the largest publisher of video games. Electronic Arts' tender offer, worth $25.74 a share, expires tomorrow.

`Mario Kart Wii'

Nintendo's ``Mario Kart Wii'' game was second in April sales with 1.12 million copies purchased, NPD said.

Sales of video games, consoles and accessories jumped 47 percent to $1.23 billion from a year earlier. Console sales rose to $426.2 million from 339.2 million.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, rose 52 cents to $30.45 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. U.S.-traded shares of Sony gained 60 cents to $50.53 on the New York Stock Exchange. Nintendo rose 600 yen, or 1 percent, to 59,000 yen in Osaka.

To contact the reporters on this story: Michael White in Los Angeles at mwhite8@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jennifer Sondag at jsondag@bloomberg.net.

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