Take Two Interactive Software has hit the jackpot with the release of their latest video game Grand Theft Auto V. In just three days it has grossed a record $1 billion which is the largest collection done by any entertainment product over a weekend. GTA V was five years in the making but has singlehandedly turned around the company. Legendary activist investor Carl Icahn is the largest individual shareholder in Take Two and holds a 12.6% stake in the company. He had bought into the company when the stock prices had dropped below $8 in 2009. He fought for representation on the board of directors and ultimately got three seats on the Board in early 2010.
Take Two Had Lost Almost 75% of Its Valuation in Recent Years
The stock price of the company has been rising since January this year in anticipation of the release and the blockbuster sale of the video game has pushed the share price from $11.22 in January to $17.43 on Friday last. The dramatic inflow of revenue is sure to push the price up further. Electronic Art had made an attempt to acquire Take Two in 2008 for $2 billion but was rebuffed. However Take Two lost over 75% of its valuation subsequently. They are now bouncing back in a big way but analysts are questioning its winning strategy which is based almost entirely on a single video game franchise. However the game has achieved numbers that even die hard optimists had not anticipated.
The Controversial Game is the Financial Backbone of Take Two
The Grand Theft Auto franchise offers a lush and graphically vivid universe where players control characters and complete violent heists and other criminal missions for crime lords. It has acquired a large devoted fan base as the interactive game allows the gamer to romp through the criminal muck and mire including carjacking, assault, murder, heavy artillery, prostitution and more. In this game the players have complete control over the characters. There have been controversy and even legal action against the game over its lurid, exploitative nature but the Grand Theft Auto has become a tent-pole release and Take-Two’s financial backbone. Icahn’s share in the company has now become worth $200 million which is not much for one of the 20 richest men in US but it would be interesting to see if he holds to his share or cashes it for a profit.