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Take-Two beats targets as Red Dead Redemption II shipments reach 23 million

NBA 2K19 and Civilization VI on Switch also exceeded sales targets

Publisher Take-Two has beaten its third quarter revenue targets following the huge success of Red Dead Redemption II.

The open world action game from Rockstar has seen 23 million copies sold through to retail, beating Take-Two's expectations

The company delivered $1.57 billion in net bookings (the firm had expected to deliver $1.40 to $1.45 billion), a rise of 140 per cent compared to the same period the year before. And it delivered $1.248 billion in revenue (it had expected $1.1 billon - $1.15 billion). The firm delivered gross profit of $350 million

Red Dead Redemption II drove the performance, but so did the game's online mode: Red Dead Online. The live mode to Red Dead Redemption II is now trending ahead of how GTA Online was performing by the same point in its lifecycle.

"It's a beta offering, of course. And it's gone about as we had expected," says CEO Strauss Zelnick.

"What's really exciting is that during December, combined monthly active users of Grand Theft Auto Online and Red Dead Online took Rockstar to a new record. We feel great about it. Obviously the experiences are a work in progress, and there will be a lot more content to come. But in terms of comparing where Grand Theft Auto Online was in terms of engagement at this stage of the game, versus where Red Dead Online at this stage in the game, Red Dead Online has more engagement, is doing better and has a lot more early traction. Which we think is very encouraging."

Grand Theft Auto V has been a mainstay in the charts now for more than five years, and a consistent performer for Take-Two. Zelnick wouldn't be drawn into whether he expects Red Dead Redemption II to follow the same trend, but is nevertheless pleased with the performance so far.

"Comparing where Grand Theft Auto Online was in terms of engagement at this stage of the game, versus where Red Dead Online is, Red Dead Online has more engagement, is doing better and has a lot more early traction."

"The title shipped more in its first 15 days than the first Red Dead Redemption shipped in eight years, and it has the highest opening weekend of any title in entertainment history of any sort - $725 million. So we do feel really good about it. Naturally, it's doing much better than expected and we had high expectations. It is very hard to call where we'll go from here, other than to say we're thrilled with what it has achieved so far."

It wasn't all Red Dead, of course. NBA 2K19 continued to perform strongly in the quarter. The game is the best-selling sports title in the US last year and the third best-selling game in the US overall. The game is now expected to outsell its predecessor, Take-Two says.

Take-Two also revealed a significant growth in digitally-delivered revenue. Recurrent consumer spending (so sales via DLC and microtransactions) grew 31 per cent (it was expected to be flat), whereas digital sales grew 85 per cent to $703.8 million. The company had anticipated a 70 per cent rise in digital.

Outside of its big franchises, Take-Two reported that sales of Civilisation VI for Nintendo Switch "significantly exceeded expectations". It was one of four games the firm released on Switch in the latter months of 2018.

"We felt good about the platform and we put the titles on Switch that we felt were going to perform well," Zelnick says. "We are excited about continuing to support the Switch for the right kind of properties."

The company has now raised its guidance for the full financial year (ending March 31st, 2019). It expects revenue to range from $2.66 to $2.71 billion (up from expectations of $2.55 to $2.65 billion). The firm anticipates net bookings of $2.89 billion to $2.94 billion. Income is expected to range from $354 to $367 million.

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Christopher Dring avatar

Christopher Dring

Head of Games B2B

Chris is a 15-year media veteran specialising in the business of video games. And, erm, Doctor Who