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August 11, 2015 – For Take-Two, Grand Theft Auto is the gift that keeps on giving
August, 11 2015

CNet/Ian Sherr

If you were told a two-year-old video game is still making a bunch of money, you'd probably do a double-take. Well, that's exactly the case for Take-Two Interactive and its crime drama Grand Theft Auto V.

The video game, first released in 2013, continues to be one of the largest contributors to Take-Two's sales. Revenue for the company more than doubled to $366.4 million after some adjustments for deferred revenue in the fiscal first quarter ended June 30. One reason for GTA's success? Reviewers gave it near-perfect scores. Initial sales were so high, in fact, that GTA became the best-selling new game ever, racking up $1 billion in sales in its first three days on the market.

The company released a PC version of its GTA game in April, juicing sales on top of the blockbuster releases for video game consoles over the past two years. Take-Two said it's sold more than 54 million copies of the game for PCs and consoles combined.

The latest results were bolstered by Grand Theft Auto Online, a service that allows gamers to interact with each other over the Internet. Take-Two sells in-game money that players can use to buy cars, weapons and other items for use in game play. Grand Theft Auto Online is now one of the most-played games on the Steam social network.

"I think it's a reflection of the fact that it's a massive world, and the game play is enormous," said Strauss Zelnick, head of Take-Two. He said sales for game services like GTA Online and Take-Two's other titles, like its sports games, are "becoming more and more of our company's business."

Despite that success, Zelnick isn't ready to rely on online gaming revenues for the future, in part because it's still so new for the company. "The only thing we've been shy about is projecting into the future because we don't have that kind of experience," he said.

For its fiscal first quarter, Take-Two reported adjusted profit of 31 cents per share, more than doubling last year's earnings. That was slightly lower than the 36 cents a share analysts had expected, while revenue beat the $351.41 million estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

Complicating things is that this is a slow period for the year, when the industry releases few games as it prepares for blockbuster launches in the fall.

For the current quarter ending in September, the company said it expects adjusted per-share profit between 5 cents to 15 cents on sales of between $275 million and $325 million. Analysts on average are expecting a 22-cent loss on $189.33 million in sales.