Industry sales good so far: Take-Two
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Black Friday sales for the video games industry were probably better than expected, but that's no guarantee of strong sales for the rest of the holiday season, Take Two Interactive Software Inc Chief Executive Strauss Zelnick said on Thursday.
"I think everyone was encouraged by Black Friday," Zelnick told the Reuters Media Summit in New York, referring to the day after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday that marks the start of the holiday shopping season.
"It was better than expectations, but it's pretty hard these days -- being slightly down is the new up," said Zelnick, a veteran of the U.S. media industry. He has been at the helm of Take Two, the New York-based video game publisher best known for its blockbuster 'Grand Theft Auto' game, since March 2007.
Healthy sales on Black Friday are no indicator that the industry will be able to sustain the sales momentum through December, Zelnick said.
Strong game titles will continue to sell well, but "everyone's at best cautiously optimistic," Zelnick said. "You're unlikely to be celebrating, but you'll be OK. In terms of how our titles are performing, I feel that it's within that range."
Earlier this week, Microsoft Corp's vice president of strategy and business development for interactive entertainment business, Shane Kim, told the summit that Black Friday weekend sales of its Xbox 360 video game consoles broke a record, up 25 percent from a year ago. Kim also said he remains "cautiously optimistic" about holiday season sales.
Zelnick did not disclose sales figures for "GTA 4," which has sold more than 10 million units as of August, since launching in April.
This month brings to a close a year in which Take-Two, whose other hits include "Bioshock" and the 2K Sports series, was closely pursued by much larger rival Electronic Arts.
Zelnick reiterated that its strong titles make it secure enough to go it alone, even in an environment where consolidation may affect weaker companies.
"We are well financed and well structured (and) we own our intellectual property," he said. "I feel really good about how we are positioned to be an independent company."
Shares of Take-Two closed at $11.29, down about 5 percent, on Thursday on Nasdaq. The stock has fallen about 31 percent since September 15, the day after EA ended its bid for Take-Two.
(Reporting by Anupreeta Das and Franklin Paul; Editing by Phil Berlowitz, Gary Hill)
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