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Take-Two's `Grand Theft' Lifts Video-Game Sales 41%

U.S. video-game sales increased 41 percent in May, led for a second month by Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (TTWO)'s ``Grand Theft Auto IV.''

Consumers purchased 1.31 million copies of the game at U.S. stores last month, Port Washington, New York-based researcher NPD Group Inc. said today in an e-mailed statement. Video-game hardware sales rose 34 percent, led by Nintendo Co.'s Wii.

``Grand Theft Auto IV'' may generate more than $1 billion in sales by the end of this year, Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey said in a June 10 note to investors. Take-Two said last week that consumers had purchased 8.5 million units worldwide from the April 29 release through May 31.

``The U.S. video-games industry has generated $6.6 billion in sales so far this year, which exceeds total 1997 annual revenues,'' NPD analyst Anita Frazier said in an e-mailed statement. ``The industry is on pace to achieve revenues in the $21 billion to $23 billion range for 2008.''

Sales of games, hardware, software and accessories increased 37 percent to $1.12 billion from $816.3 million, NPD said.

Among the consoles, U.S. retailers sold 675,100 Wii players, 208,700 PlayStation 3s from Sony Corp. (6758) and 186,600 of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)'s Xbox 360, NPD said.

The success of ``Grand Theft Auto IV'' isn't ``translating into big hardware sales for either the PS3 or the 360,'' Frazier said. Father's Day and graduation gift-giving may change that, she said.

`Wii Fit'

Nintendo's ``Wii Fit'' was the month's third-best selling title with 687,700 copies purchased, NPD said. The game measures players' fitness, including weight and body-mass index, during activities that include simulated skiing, yoga and push-ups. Exercises are performed on a floor pad that connects wirelessly to the console.

``Wii Fit'' is available only for the Nintendo console. ``Grand Theft Auto IV'' was released in versions for Xbox 360 console and PlayStation 3.

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' $25.74-a-share tender expires June 16.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, gained $1.12 to $28.24 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. U.S.-traded shares of Tokyo-based Sony fell 1 cent to $47.82 on the New York Stock Exchange. Nintendo rose 500 yen to 57,000 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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