UPDATE 1-Take-Two shares charged by 'BioShock' release

Tue Aug 21, 2007 7:20pm BST

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(Adds analyst comment, details, previous dateline NEW YORK)

SAN FRANCISCO Aug 21 (Reuters) - Shares of Take-Two Interactive Software Inc (TTWO.O) rose more than 10 percent on Tuesday amid a strong debut for the video game publisher's creepy new shooting game, "BioShock."

"There's a lot of excitement over 'BioShock,'" said Mike Hickey, an analyst with Janco Partners. "This could be a huge profit generator for them."

"BioShock", which is available for for Microsoft Corp's (MSFT.O) Xbox 360 video game console and Windows-based computers, was released on Tuesday to rave reviews from video game Web sites and magazines.

The game, in which players use guns and genetic powers to fight off enemies while trying to figure out what happened to a crumbling underwater city, may shape up to be a lifeline for a company that has been hammered by accounting scandals and product hitches.

Earlier this month, Take-Two said it was delaying "Grand Theft Auto IV," the latest installment of its key franchise that has been one of the best-selling game properties of all time. Originally scheduled for release this October in time for the crucial holiday season, "GTA IV" was pushed to next year.

In the two weeks following the announcement, the stock fell 28 percent to a level not seen since October 2006.

Todd Mitchell, an analyst with Kaufman Brothers, said the stock's Tuesday jump was also due to renewed speculation that the company, led by new management after a shareholder coup in March, could be a takeover target.

"I think they're here until they fix the company and they're not flipping it at these levels. They want to see a turnaround before they do any kind of sale," Mitchell said.

Gaming Web site Gamespot.com gave "BioShock" a rating of 9 out of 10, saying it featured "absolutely amazing atmosphere and visual design." Gamespy.com, another top game review site, gave it 5 out of 5 stars, hailing it as "an unparalleled achievement."

The Xbox 360 version of the game was the top-selling title on Amazon.com, while the PC version was No. 5.

"For people who were concerned about any liquidity issue, this game shows some promise for them. They could could really surprise on the upside here," Hickey said.

Take-Two shares were up $1.40, or 10.45 percent, to $14.80 on Nasdaq in afternoon trading. (Reporting by Scott Hillis with additional reporting by Kenneth Li in New York)

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