'Grand Theft Auto IV' Posts Record First-Week Sales

Game publisher reports that it sold 3.6 million copies on first day of release.

First it earned an unprecedented streak of perfect review scores. Now Rockstar Games has some even bigger numbers to boast about: the sales of "Grand Theft Auto IV."

The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 crime adventure in Liberty City sold 6 million copies worldwide in its first week of release, exceeding analysts' predictions. According to a release from the game's publisher, Take-Two Interactive, it took in $500 million after selling 3.6 million copies on its first day of release.

Those figures break the previous opening-week record of "Halo 3," which netted $300 million in sales in its first week. In the U.S., "Halo 3" sold 3.3 million first-week copies, according to sales-tracking firm NPD. (Worldwide figures for first-week sales of "Halo 3" were not available at press time.)

In a statement to investors, Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick said the game's "first week performance represents the largest launch in the history of interactive entertainment. We believe these retail sales levels surpass any movie or music launch to date."

Zelnick did not reveal how the sales broke down between PS3 and Xbox users. That ratio may prove a key factor in the ongoing console battle between Sony and Microsoft. Previous "GTA" games launched first on the PlayStation 2, helping the platform maintain a solid lead over the original Xbox. "GTA IV" was the first installment to launch on both machines, only skipping Nintendo's Wii among the modern gaming consoles.

Giant sales of Rockstar's game had been expected. In March, financial analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities predicted that Take-Two would ship 6 million copies of "GTA IV," a massive initial delivery of games.

Most competing publishers steered clear of releasing games against "GTA IV," with the notable exception of Nintendo, which slated its latest "Mario Kart" game for release on the Wii just two days before the Rockstar epic. The "Mario Kart" series has been historically among Nintendo's best-selling franchises, and this new game isn't playable on systems that play "GTA IV" — and vice versa.

Last week, members of the movie industry expressed concern that the success of "GTA" would cost the movie "Iron Man" some viewers. While it's not clear to what extent that happened, given that the film still raked in more than $100 million, the "GTA IV" figures trump all movies on that top-10 list.

Take-Two is hopeful that high sales of "GTA IV" will increase the company's value and improve the company's bargaining position with competitor Electronic Arts, which has been trying to purchase the "GTA" publisher with a stock buy-out during the past several weeks.

"GTA IV" sold in two editions: a basic $60 game-only version and a $90 version that included an artbook, music CD and duffel bag.

The previous console installment of the series, the 2004 "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," has sold 21.5 million copies, according to Take-Two.