GTAIV Breaks Halo 3’s Record! $500 million in 1st week, 6mn

“Grand Theft Auto IV” raked in more than $500 million (€324.04 million) in its first week in stores, selling more than 6 million units worldwide, the video game’s publisher said Wednesday.

The highly anticipated title from Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. has received stellar ratings along with criticism for its violent content. The game follows Eastern European immigrant-turned-gangster Niko Bellic on crime missions around a fictional Liberty City.

The title sold about 3.6 million units on April 29, its opening day, bringing in roughly $310 million (€200.91 million). This is $10 million (€6.48 million) more than what Microsoft Corp.’s “Halo 3,” another blockbuster game, took in during its first week last fall.

The game has also lifted sales of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3, the two consoles for which it is available.

Without giving numbers, Microsoft said Xbox 360 sales jumped 54 percent in the week following the title’s launch, compared with the prior week, and more than 2.3 million people played it on its Xbox Live online service.

“Retailers say roughly four out of every 10 Xbox 360 consoles sold also included the sale of a copy of ‘Grand Theft Auto IV,'” said Aaron Greenberg, director of product management at Xbox 360 and Xbox Live.

Sony spokeswoman Laura Bakken said the company’s 10 largest retailers have “all seen a pretty substantial lift” in PS3 sales, but she did not give specifics.

The game is generating controversy as previous versions have.

Take-Two sued the Chicago Transit Authority on Monday after the organization removed ads for the game because of its “Mature” rating, which means it is not suitable for people under 17. The game also caught the ire of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which seeks an adults-only rating because it lets players drive after imbibing in virtual liquor.

Previous versions of the game generated controversy over hidden sex scenes, sharp criticism from Democratic presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton and a 2006 lawsuit that blames the game for three New Mexico murders committed by a 14-year-old.

An analyst with Wedbush Morgan, Michael Pachter, said he expects the game to sell 12 million copies by the end of 2008. Previous versions of Grand Theft Auto have sold more than 70 million copies worldwide.

New York-based Take-Two is the subject of a $2 billion (€1.3 billion) hostile buyout from larger rival Electronic Arts Inc., whose offer Take-Two has repeatedly rebuffed as too low.

Take-Two’s shares were recently trading at $26.39, which is above EA’s tender offer of $25.74 (€16.68) per share; the offer expires May 16. Unless EA is willing to offer more, it seems “increasingly possible” the acquisition attempt could unravel, Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey said in a note to investors.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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