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Take-Two Interactive hit hard by 2012 losses, but rebounds big with Grand Theft Auto V, BioShock Infinite in fiscal 2013

Turns out that the Rockstar name isn’t quite enough to carry Take-Two Interactive through a fiscal year unscathed. The NBA 2K, BioShock, and Borderlands publisher reported its earnings for the fiscal year that ended in March on Tuesday, and the year was not kind. Net revenue for the full year dipped down to $825.8 million from $1.14 billion the previous year. The company lost a significant amount of money overall, $107.7 million. In fiscal 2011, Take-Two pulled in a profit of $53.8 million.

The numbers are unfortunately right in line with Take-Two’s expectations. Even while most big game publishers floundered in 2010, Take-Two had a stellar year thanks to powerhouse releases like Red Dead Redemption, NBA 2K11, and seemingly evergreen seller Grand Theft Auto IV and its associated downloadable content packs.

At the time, Take-Two boasted that Red Dead Redemption’s success meant that the publisher had finally found a way to have a profitable year even without a major Grand Theft Auto release. 2011 proved the publisher wrong though. While Rockstar’s 2011 release, the Team Bondi-made L.A. Noire, sold well after its May release, it failed to match Red Dead Redemption, selling less than 5 million copies worldwide last year, compared to the more than 11 million copies Red Dead sold including its downloadable add-ons like Undead Nightmare.

Take-Two also suffered major sales disappointments from the games supporting its marquee releases. Analysts predicted that gaming white whale Duke Nukem Forever would sell around 3 million copies when it released in June, but it ultimately only sold 1.5 million, putting a further damper on Take-Two’s early year.

“While our financial results were disappointing, the decisions we made position Take-Two for growth and profitability both this year and over the long-term,” said Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick.

On this point, Zelnick is right. Even with console game sales tailing off as people play and spend more on PCs and mobile devices, Take-Two has a line up of games due between now and March 2013 that should guarantee them financial health. Over the next nine months, Take-Two’s schedule includes a new expansion for Civilization V; strategy resurrection XCOM: Enemy Unknown; Borderlands 2; and BioShock Infinite, a game that will benefit greatly from avoiding the crowded holiday rush of Call of Duty: Black Ops II and the Wii U release. All those are in edition to the perennial best-seller NBA 2K13 expected in October and the already strong-selling Max Payne 3.

There’s also Take-Two’s secret weapon in this schedule: Grand Theft Auto V. The years that Take-Two doesn’t have a GTA in the docket are the ones when the company’s performance dips, but signs point to GTAV possibly hitting shelves as soon as October. Good news indeed for Take-Two, and good news for people that like slick console games.

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