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Let's not bury the video-game industry just yet.
Take-Two Interactive's (NASDAQ: TTWO ) Grand Theft Auto V hit the ground running with its Tuesday debut. The company announced the next day that it had sold $800 million worth of the title in its first 24 hours of availability.
Yes, that's huge. It's also the best news that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) and Sony (NYSE: SNE ) have heard, and not just because the game is available exclusively for the Xbox 360 and PS3. Take-Two's record-setting performance shows that diehard gamers are still there. They just needed a tentpole release to awaken them from their slumber.
When Take-Two circled September as its release for Grand Theft Auto V, it seemed dangerously close to November's debut of Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PS4. Would gamers be too busy saving their money for the new systems that start at $400? Would players ready to upgrade to the new consoles in two months still want to buy a game for the old platforms? Microsoft and Sony are moving to new chip architectures with the new systems in November, so older games won't be organically compatible.
Well, we know that gamers chose to play now.
The only fear now -- if you happen to be Microsoft or Sony -- is if roughly millions of gamers are buying the game now because they have no intention of upgrading to the new systems right away.
There may be an inevitable shakeout, especially after Nintendo's (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY ) recent move to slash prices of its slow-selling Wii U system ahead of November's launch of rival platforms. Will gamers hold off on buying new systems until they see whether there are price cuts on the way next year?
They probably won't wait, and not just because we're already seeing the launch-day pre-orders sell out at GameStop and Amazon.com. Best Buy is sold out of its online pre-orders, but it should be available at stores in limited quantities at the time of launch. We don't know whether weak supply is what's giving the appearance of strong demand, but it's hard to bet against the industry -- even after years of declining sales -- after digesting Take-Two's blowout debut of Grand Theft Auto V.
The industry couldn't have timed its new generation any better. The economy's showing signs of life, and Take-Two's five-year lull between flagship Grand Theft Auto numbered releases only appears to have made audiences hungrier.
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