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For Fans of Anarchy, Grand Theft Auto IV Is a Big Smash

Popularity of video game series makes Take-Two Interactive a takeover target. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Economics Report.


A lot of marketers would kill for a product like Grand Theft Auto. GTA Four is the newest in the popular series of violent video games.

The Rockstar Games division of Take-Two Interactive Software in New York is responsible for Grand Theft Auto. Estimates suggest that Rockstar spent about one hundred million dollars developing the newest version.

Take-Two said about six million copies were sold worldwide in the first week, with a value estimated at more than five hundred million dollars. The first-week performance represented, it said, the largest launch in the history of interactive entertainment.

Some players reported problems with the game. Rockstar released a software patch to deal with those problems.

Grand Theft Auto started as a two-dimensional video game in nineteen ninety-seven. It was moderately successful. But in two thousand one, Rockstar released the third version. This time, players felt like they were inside the game. Three-dimensional graphics made it a hit.

Together, the first three titles sold more than seventy million copies.

Gamers say they like the realistic action and interesting storylines. Critics of violent video games -- well, you can imagine how they feel.

Grand Theft Auto takes place in Liberty City, a fantasy world of criminals, prostitutes and guns. Players can rob, kill, drive wildly and gain points in the process. The game is rated for players seventeen years and older.

The success of Take-Two has made the company a target for bigger players in the video game industry. Electronic Arts, the industry leader, has offered to buy Take-Two for two billion dollars. Take-Two has rejected the offer; it says it is worth more than that.

The Entertainment Software Association says nine and a half billion dollars worth of video games were sold in the United States last year.

Electronic Arts just reported that its sales were up nineteen percent in the last year, to more than three and a half billion dollars. Still, EA says it had a loss of four hundred fifty-four million dollars, compared to a profit of seventy-six million the year before.

And that's the VOA Special English Economics Report, written by Mario Ritter. Archives are online at I'm Steve Ember.