Take-Two Shocks the Street

So ... there's a lot of hype right now over Take-Two Interactive's (Nasdaq: TTWO  ) BioShock title, which launched this week. Think gruesome first-person shooting adventure in an underwater city of robots and mutated beings. With this fresh horror release, quite a few investors are taking a serious look at the company, and more than a few have bid their bets on the stock.

While I can see what all the fuss is about, I still have to wonder whether Take-Two is the best video-game idea out there right now. I mean, the news flow hasn't been too encouraging lately. Let's start at the top -- the publisher's main reason for existence, the Grand Theft Auto franchise, will be experiencing a delay for its next entry. Then we have the issue of Manhunt 2 -- that, too, has been pushed back.

Besides delays, there have been other issues relating to company performance and governance. Take-Two's last quarter wasn't so grand; neither was its fiscal year. The company's margins aren't so hot. And there have been some shenanigans regarding options.

Since the market has steamrolled Take-Two over the past several months, an investor naturally wants to investigate the situation to see whether the stock might constitute a good buying opportunity. After all, at some point, a lot of the bad news might be factored into the price, and Wall Street might begin to look forward to the good things to come instead of backward at all the bad stuff.

I think this is a case of risk-aversion and relativity -- how strongly can you stomach holding a company that has all of these problems when there are relatively better investments out there in this sector? I own a stake in Activision (Nasdaq: ATVI  ) and Nintendo (OTC BB: NTDOY.PK) to gain exposure to the video-game zeitgeist; I believe those companies are much better bets. So is Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS  ) , for that matter. It's going to be a while before Grand Theft Auto IV hits the next-generation consoles from Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) ; in the meantime, Activision and Electronic Arts are going to enjoy the upcoming holiday season with deeper software slates. 

This is why the BioShock volatility must be put in perspective. I recall a few years back when Atari's (Nasdaq: ATAR  ) shares were smoking hot because of a title the publisher released based on the movie brand The Matrix. Eventually, things settled down, and Atari's other problems brought the stock down.

No, I'm not suggesting that Take-Two is another Atari. All I'm counseling is for investors to be wary of one week's worth of trading hype, and to take a good long look at Take-Two before you buy. For me, bigger names like Activision and Nintendo -- which are prospering from Guitar Hero and the Wii, respectively -- are still better investment ideas right now. Yes, I've been pretty bearish on Take-Two -- it may impress me someday as a holding that is worth the risk, but not today.

More Foolishness with video games:

Activision, Electronic Arts, and Nintendo are proud members of the Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation list. Sign up for a free 30-day trial of the service with no obligation whatsoever. The Gardner brothers can help you construct a long-term, wealth-building portfolio. Microsoft is a member of the Motley Fool Inside Value portfolio.

Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns shares of Activision and Nintendo. As of this writing, he was ranked 8,326 out of more than 60,000 investors in Motley Fool CAPS. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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