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Take-Two joins billion-dollar club

Usual mixture of announcements and so on (Red Dead Revolver, Manhunt Xbox/PC, GTA GBA, and, er, Army Men: Sarge's War).

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Image credit: Eurogamer

Take-Two has joined the billion-dollar club, having posted net sales of $1.04 billion as part of its record financial results for the 12 months to October 31st 2003 - up 31 per cent on the same figure last year.

Profits, meanwhile, rose by a massively impressive 40 per cent on the same period last year, hitting $100 million in a year which saw the firm acquire fellow publisher TDK Mediactive, launch several high profile games such as Max Payne 2 in the West, and successfully launch its Grand Theft Auto franchise in Japan through a distribution agreement with Capcom. (In fact, according to today's trading report, GTA3 had sold 300,000 copies by the week ending December 7th, despite the generally frosty welcome Western releases usually receive in the region.)

The New York-based publisher also confirmed that it has consolidated its publishing business into three distinct brands - Rockstar Games (premium-priced, groundbreaking content), Gathering (mid-priced and non-Rockstar premium products) and Global Star (budget and budget-priced titles).

However, as veterans of Take-Two's reports well know, it's the huge influx of product announcements and release date information that makes them truly interesting, and this report is no exception. Chief amongst today's revelations is the news that Rockstar will publish Rockstar San Diego's (formerly Angel Studios) Red Dead Revolver for PS2 and Xbox in its second fiscal quarter 2004. RDR had originally started life on Capcom's books prior to the Take-Two acquisition. Rockstar has also reiterated that the GTA Double Pack will be released on Xbox in Europe on January 2nd, with Mafia following on PS2 and Xbox later in the month.

Rockstar also plans to publish Xbox and PC versions of controversial slaughter-'em-up Manhunt during fiscal 2004, along with a Game Boy Advance version of Grand Theft Auto. GTA will, of course, be returning to console and potentially PC screens as well when Rockstar North completes the next instalment in the series in Take-Two's fourth fiscal quarter, and following the success of GTA3 in Japan, Vice City will also be released there on PS2 and PC in March. Finally from Rockstar we have The Warriors (based on the Paramount film of the same name), which is due in the company's third fiscal quarter.

Gathering meanwhile will apparently be taking over publishing duties on Destruction Derby Arenas, as well as publishing Vietcong expansion pack Fist Alpha as previously announced and Vietcong: Purple Haze (game and expansion in one pack). Other Gathering releases for the next fiscal year apparently include a Hidden & Dangerous sequel (whether they mean the already announced expansion pack or another sequel is perhaps up for debate), several new properties from Gathering's distribution arrangement with Destineer Publishing and Robotech and Spy vs. Spy from TDK Mediactive's portfolio. Not included in the statement was the recent news of a Mafia sequel, as well as console ports of Vietcong and Hidden & Dangerous 2 - expected official confirmation to emerge soon.

Global Star will publish Carve (Xbox), Motocross Mania 3, a new console Virtual Pool title and, brace yourselves, Army Men: Sarge's War (PS2, Xbox), along with Corvette (Xbox) and UFC: Sudden Impact (PS2) from TDK's portfolio. Finally, Take-Two plans to release another title from TDK's portfolio - Star Trek: Shattered Universe for PS2 and Xbox - in the first fiscal quarter.

For fans of the actual financial figures, Take-Two's fourth quarter net sales were up 28 per cent to $278.5 million, while net income for the quarter was up 19 per cent to $26.6m. Take-Two's expectations for next year are needless to say fairly substantial, although it's worth noting that the next GTA title will have presumably only just been released when next year's figures are posted. The company has advised that it cannot predict what if any impact the ongoing Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the company's accounting practices will have on their 2004 results.

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