GRAND THEFT AUTO IV DELAYED

UPDATE – Take-Two has reduced its fiscal 2007 forecast as it opted to delay the release of Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto IV due to “technological challenges.”

Update: Added call details.

The game was originally scheduled for October this year during Take-Two’s fiscal Q3 2007, but now the game will release during the publisher’s fiscal 2008 Q2, ending April 2008.

In a statement, Take-Two offered few details on the reasoning for the change, simply saying the delay is “due to additional development time required to complete the title.”

CEO Ben Feder added in a statement, “Obviously, we are very disappointed to reduce guidance after having previously reaffirmed it. Other than a matter of timing, the movement of Grand Theft Auto IV does not compromise Take-Two in any way. We are in sound financial condition and have a great product line up.”

During a short-notice conference call, analysts pried further to find out more specific reasoning behind the delay.

Still, Take-Two execs offered no real specifics. “We don’t think it’s helpful or beneficial to go into exact details of what the technological issues are,” said chairman Strauss Zelnick. “…I will say that the reason that it is being delayed is almost strictly technological.”

Zelnick made clear that the decision to delay the game was literally made just today after the latest build review yesterday, although rumors of a delay had surfaced weeks ago.

“We do believe it was the right decision,” he said. “We felt that delivering a product that didn’t meet our standards wasn’t and acceptable path. We will not choose the expediency of an on-time delivery of a less-than-exceptional product over the long-term success of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, or anything else we release for the matter.”

The upside is that this monster release will avoid other big holiday titles, namely Microsoft’s Halo 3.

The firm said titles such as BioShock, Bully: Scholarship Edition, Table Tennis (Wii) and 2K Sports titles will carry Take-Two through the rest of the year, including the busy holiday season.

Zelnick said the delay “does not compromise Take-Two in any way.”

GTA IV will release on Xbox 360 and PS3.

In effect, Take-Two dropped its guidance for the fiscal year ending October 31, 2007. The firm expects revenue for the year to be in the range of $950 million to $1.0 billion and net loss per share of $1.25 to $1.35.

For the third quarter ended July 31, 2007, Take-Two expects revenue in the range of $195 million to $205 million, with a net loss per share in the range of 65 cents to 70 cents.

For the fourth quarter ending October 31, the firm anticipates net revenue in the range of $275 million to $300 million, with a net loss per share in the range of 5 cents to 10 cents.

Rockstar founder Sam Houser said in a statement, “The game is huge and is pushing the hardware platforms to their absolute limits. The top engineers from Sony and Microsoft are working closely with the team in Edinburgh right now, helping us to fully leverage the power of both platforms. As always, our goal is to surpass even the wildest expectations of the game’s fans, and to create the ultimate high definition video game experience.”

The company is “highly confident” that it will be able to deliver GTA IV in final form by the announced fiscal Q2 period.