Take-Two boosts its point total


Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. said during a conference call Monday describing the new management team's first 100 days that it has obtained a revolving credit facility of $100 million, and brass promised a bigger focus on Wii product and predicted a good holiday season for Take-Two and the industry.

Executives at the company, which already has more than $100 million in cash on its books, said that it didn't have any pressing need for an additional infusion of cash right now.

Helping the gaming outlook was Monday's announcement from Sony Corp. that it would slash the price of its PlayStation 3 by $100, perhaps encouraging more sales of that console which, of course, would spur sales of software developed for that platform.

The news, though, didn't lift shares of Take-Two, which fell 2.2%. Shares of THQ Inc., Midway Games Inc. and Activision Inc. were higher, while Electronic Arts Inc. closed lower.

Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick and CEO Ben Feder, speaking to analysts on Monday's call, said the company intends on exploring opportunities in four areas: massively multiplayer online games; the Asian market; in-game advertising and casual games.

As to the latter, Nintendo's Wii console, which caters to less-serious gamers, has been outselling the more expensive PS3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 by big margins, prompting Zelnick to proclaim that the firm will "enhance our focus on Wii."

Analysts on Monday seemed most curious about Take-Two's strategy for its "Manhunt 2" game that unexpectedly received an "Adults Only" rating, meaning its release will be delayed because, in part, big retailers won't sell AO games.

Zelnick and Feder defended the artistry of the game and also noted that Take-Two is not in the AO game business, but that it didn't rule out AO games in its future.

As to "Manhunt 2," they were vague about making changes to garner a "Mature" rating and about when the game might be available to consumers.

Asked if "Manhunt 2," or at least a version of it, might stick with its AO rating and bypass retailers by selling via digital download, Zelnick didn't dismiss being "clever about how we distribute it," but also noted that Sony and Nintendo don't allow AO games for their consoles.

Zelnick also reiterated the company's commitment to developing games where it owns the intellectual property rather than licensing rights to popular existing characters, as EA has done with the upcoming "The Simpsons Game" and Activision and THQ have done with their games based on "Transformers" and "Ratatouille."

Along those lines, Zelnick said Take-Two has set up a new way for greenlighting the development of games more quickly by way of regular meeting of an investment review committee that includes himself, Feder and CFO Lainie Goldstein.

The company's highly anticipated "Grand Theft Auto IV," scheduled for an October release, should receive an M rating, Zelnick said.

The company offered no update on its plans to sell its Jack of All Games and JoyTech units.