Take-Two Interactive (Nasdaq: TTWO) used to keep all its eggs in a single basket named Grand Theft Auto.  But the one-trick pony has learned a few new tricks and woven another basket or two.

This week's third-quarter report showed that Take-Two can have a profitable holiday quarter without a fresh GTA installment on store shelves. Thanks to strong sales of titles like Wild West shooter Red Dead: Redemption, basketball extravaganza NBA 2K11, and zombie-cleanup party Undead Nightmare, Take-Two delivered $0.52 of non-GAAP earnings per share on $334 million of revenue, both well above Street estimates.

Strong presales of MLB 2K11 also encouraged management to raise its earnings forecast for the fourth quarter significantly, though the seasonally slow period will still see a loss. And then fiscal 2012 looks like a barnburner, with another BioShock title, some chance of a new GTA, and the so-overdue-your-grandma-knows-about-it Duke Nukem Forever.

Take-Two has come a long way from the old single-hit days when Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS) thought it could buy the company on the cheap. Of course, the stock still trades at about half the proposed buyout price, so EA would be entitled to a smug chuckle. But if Take-Two can continue to deliver fresh tentpole titles and also extend the lives of Red Dead and other recent hit franchises, it could be Take-Two that gets the last laugh after all.

That may a lot to ask of a company with much smaller resources and a shallower pool of proven ideas than gargantuan game houses EA and Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI), which makes Take-Two a high-risk investment with the potential for high reward. But as we've seen here, a couple of recent titles are steps in the right direction, and the fact that they exist raises the distinct possibility of making more big hits.

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. Take-Two Interactive Software is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Activision Blizzard is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Motley Fool Options has recommended a synthetic long position on Activision Blizzard. The Fool owns shares of Activision Blizzard and Take-Two Interactive Software. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.