The release of any new Grand Theft Auto title, the hyperviolent bestseller from Take-Two Interactive, always makes waves in gaming circles. Wall Street is watching, too.
That's because Take-Two is currently trying to fend off a takeover by rival Electronic Arts in a tense $1.9 billion buyout offer that's become the gaming industry's equivalent of Microsoft's bid for Yahoo.
GTA IV represents both the value of Take-Two and its best defense against a buyout. A successful launch of what could be the biggest-selling video game ever could go far in persuading shareholders to keep Take-Two independent. (The company is also home to popular Major League Baseball titles.)
UBS upped its 2008 U.S. sales estimates for the title Tuesday to 8 million units from 6 million, plus an extra 6 million in international sales. But it left its Take-Two price target unchanged at $26, near the stock's midday price of $26.62. With shares only a bit above EA's offered price, which was recently lowered to $25.74, some more love from the Street might be required to keep Take-Two independent.
Meanwhile, in keeping with the game's gangster style, the first GTA-related stabbing took place outside a London game store, according to the BBC.