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GTA Online issues highlight "expertise gap", Take Two trailing on digital - analyst

Grand Theft Auto 5 represents the vast majority of Take Two's revenue this quarter, analyst firm IHS Electronics & Media has predicted, but warned that massive retail sales can't compensate for a lack of digital strategy.

IHS's senior games analyst Christine Arrington said Take Two will likely announce it has shipped 21.5 million copies of GTA 5 during its second quarter financials release tomorrow, resulting in revenue well above the company's forecasts.

But the analyst warned that Take Two's reliance on retail sales is a concern, estimating that the publisher derived just 8% of its total revenue from online and mobile sources, "by far the lowest of the major western publishers IHS tracks".

During the same quarter, IHS expects EA to generate 47% of its revenue from digital and mobile sales; Activision Blizzard to generate 62% from digital sales; and Ubisoft to generate 34% of its sales from digital and mobile.

"In this context, Take Two has far to go before its heavy reliance on retail sales is mitigated by diversification into digital, online and mobile opportunities," Arrington said.

"Monetising the online portion of GTA 5 offers Take Two the opportunity to build its digital business relatively quickly and to claw back its position against its direct competition.

"However, the problems Take Two has experienced in deployment and roll-out of GTA Online highlights the expertise gap that needs to be filled when implementing ambitious online games experiences across significant user bases."

The analyst said building "expertise in large scale online games architecture" takes years of investment and Take Two wasn't up to snuff with GTA Online's launch.

"This will have set back the company's ambition to significantly drive up sales from digital activities in the final quarter of 2013," she added.

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Brenna Hillier


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