Company's year-end earnings target "crumbles like a shit cookie"

MarketWatch is reporting that Take-Two Interactive's shares have taken a 15-percent fall since mid-May on weak sales of "L.A. Noire" and scathing reviews of the much-hyped "Duke Nukem Forever."

Although "L.A. Noire" was the top-selling game for the month of May, the 899,000 units sold did not reach the expected 1 million units analysts had predicted for the title. Last year, "Red Dead Redemption" sold 1.5 million units for Take-Two in the same period.

Meanwhile, "Duke Nukem Forever" finally saw its official release yesterday, after years of starts and stops, and one week after the much-anticipated first-person shooter leaked to torrent sites. However, reviews have ranged from pitiful to "barely playable." The game averaged a 55 Metacritic rating for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 ("Red Dead Redemption" averaged 95).

Ars Technica offered a particularly scathing review. Some excerpts:

Duke is thoughtless, backwards, and belligerent.
It's not racy, it's not funny, and it makes you feel dirty. ... It's like watching your uncle tell racist jokes at Thanksgiving and praying someone has the guts to tell him to cut it out, but this time it's interactive—and you're the uncle.
This is an ugly game that exists to celebrate ugliness. The people involved should be ashamed.

IGN's review isn't much better:

In most cases, the sections in Duke Nukem Forever that connect the shooting are dull, derivative experiences that feel like they exist for no other reason than to bloat the story mode... 
Duke Nukem Forever isn't a revitalization of the early days of the first-person shooter genre or a middle-finger to the increasingly complex and sophisticated nature of videogame entertainment. It's a muddled, hypocritical exercise in irritation with solid shooting mechanics and decent encounter design. There's some dumb fun to be had in Duke Nukem Forever, but the game tries hard to ensure it's only fleeting.

The MarketWatch report, notes that Doug Creutz of Cowen & Co. cited the "extremely poor" reviews of the game in a note to clients that said he believes the company isn't likely to reach its year-end earnings goal. He gave Take-Two a "sell" rating.

And the reviews for the game have been so terrible, that Take-Two subsidiary 2K Games' public relations firm posted an open threat on Twitter to reviewers, saying those who "went too far" in their reviews might not receive review copies of their games in the future. (The tweet has since been deleted and apologized for, but Wired captured a screenshot in time.)

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