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Red Dead Redemption Ships 5 Million Copies

Red Dead Redemption is officially a hit. A really, really big hit. Gameindustry.biz is reporting the game has shipped over 5 million games worldwide since its release on May 18. The numbers indicate the units sold to the retailers, not necessarily to the consumer, but that is still very good news for Rockstar’s owner, publisher Take-Two.

Back in January, RDR was shaping up to be a disaster of oil-spill-in-the-Gulf proportions. The game was behind schedule, and it was costing Take-Two far more than planned. In fact, the budget was so out of control, that the publisher was expecting to take a loss on the game. One source at Rockstar told Joystiq that, “It will take 4 million sales at full price to recoup the development costs of RDR. The good news is they are not expecting to make money with Red Dead Redemption.”

Early estimates claimed that the game would need to make around $160 million to make back the development costs, but that does not count promotion of the game. A later source claimed that the number had risen, due to delays and promotional costs, and that the game would need to sell around 5 million units, something that was considered- at best- difficult. Red Dead Redemption did it in 3 weeks flat.

That is good news for everyone. For fans, it means that studios might be encouraged to try new and ambitious projects to further the industry. Western games had not traditionally had much success, so developers had mostly stayed away from the genre (with a few exceptions). With the middling sales and meager reviews of the prequel Red Dead Revolver, it was a gamble to even continue the series. With the success, perhaps more developers will re-examine concepts they had abandoned.

It is also good news for the game itself, and you can expect the Red Dead series to continue on and likely receive a Grand Theft Auto-like treatment, with new games featuring the same concepts, but with a fresh new look. Grand Theft Auto IV has sold over 17million copies worldwide, so it is possible that RDR’s sales could just be getting warmed up, as positive word of mouth continues to drive sales.

The big winner however is Take-Two. The success of RDR has pushed Take-Two ‘s second quarter into profit. It was also helped by Bioshock 2, GTA: Episodes from Liberty City, and MLB 2K10.

Take-Two also has a handful of games set to debut this year, including LA Noire, Mafia II and Sid Meier’s Civilization V.