|May 9, 2008|
|Grand Theft is PR, Sales Blockbuster; But Was Reporting Restricted in Exchange for Access?|
|By Greg Hazley|
|Take-Two Interactive, which has been fending off an unsolicited takeover from rival Electronic Arts, probably upped its price this week as sales of the latest installment of its blockbuster video game franchise “Grand Theft Auto” hit $500M for the first week.|
Take-Two, helped by Brunswick Group in shooting down the $2 billion EA offer, said when the bid came in that they would wait until “Grand Theft Auto 4” was released. Nice move.
In a sure sign that video games are now firmly entrenched in the upper echelon of consumer entertainment, Forbes noted that analysts and entertainment execs were sweating out the GTA4 launch because of its potential affect on television and movie receipts. According to the AP, GTA4’s sales beat the most recent blockbuster game, Halo 3, by $200M and even approached the $500M+ global weekend receipts of the recent “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie.
Reviews of the game were predominately positive and media reports in the wake of the robust sales figures are equally fawning. But there is a bit of a cloud over the astonishing PR and financial success of the game’s launch.
Last week, Seattle Times tech columnist Brier Dudley blogged about his dealings with Rockstar Games’ PR reps [the game was developed by Take-Two’s Rockstar Games unit] at the PR firm Laforce + Stevens. Dudley was offered a flight to New York and a hotel room in exchange for an interview with a Rockstar co-founder and a day spent playing the game to review it. Dudley noted he couldn’t take the freebies but would gladly make the trip to test the game and conduct the interview. But first he had to be interviewed by the PR reps, who told him they didn’t want coverage of the takeover offer or of the company’s PR mess of a few years ago when sexual content was found hidden in an earlier edition of GTA.
Dudley told the PR team he didn’t plan on leading with those facts, but he wouldn’t agree to any restrictions. The interview and review never happened. Dudley didn’t sound particularly surprised about the incident, but relayed the story because he said it is a) something he should disclose, and b) something he thought readers might be interested in – “how intensely the makers of triple-A games manage the pre-launch flow of information.”
Dudley told me in an email that he thought the conditions were requested by the client, Rockstar Games.
I emailed Take-Two but didn't get a response.
Update: Leslie Stevens of L+F said she couldn't talk about the launch because it was confidential.
(Photo: Gaming Today)
Return to Latest News