Peter Moore bicep tattoos and a loads of cash helped to secure GTA on Microsoft’s Xbox 360
Grand Theft Auto “only on Xbox 360” to cost Microsoft $50 million

Grand Theft Auto carries an enormous fan-base as a game franchise  – one that Microsoft so desperately wanted to grab from Sony’s PlayStation 2 legion. Microsoft felt like it won a victory when it announced Grand Theft Auto IV would be launching on the same day as the PlayStation 3 version, though it wouldn’t stop there.

Word recently got out the Xbox 360 would be receiving exclusive episodic content, giving it the edge over PlayStation 3 version. Getting the exclusive content wasn’t cheap, however, as revealed in a recent Take-Two Interactive earnings call. There is a $50 million incentive to keep exclusive episodic content “only on Xbox 360.”

There will be two distinct episodic content packages related to Grand Theft Auto, each costing Microsoft $25 million, according to comments made during the conference. The $50 million may help Take-Two alleviate its recent financial woes.

“The first 25 is for the first episodic content package that’s supposed to go out and that is in March of ’08. That’s why it moved into current because it’s in the next 12 months,” Take-Two CFO Lainie Goldstein explained. “The second 25 will be for the second episodic, the episode, and that will be later in fiscal ’08.”

Despite the Xbox 360 exclusivity deal, Take-Two Chairman of the Board Strauss Zelnick believes the pull of Grand Theft Auto IV will still stir sales of the PlayStation 3. “We think that frankly, the release of Grand Theft Auto 4 is going to have a materially beneficial impact on the sales of PS3. Certainly if history is any guide, that’s going to be the case. We think this is a must-own title that will help the platform,” he said.

Zelnick also hints at differences between the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, “Obviously we’ve episodic content coming for X-Box 360 for the title and because the consoles do differ, there will be some differences in the games. My kids actually have three game consoles at home and sometimes play the same titles on different consoles and they see some differences and they find that compelling. So there’ll be – these obviously are not going to be identical experiences but they are going to be very, very close.”

Grand Theft Auto IV ships to retailers on October 16 as both a regular and special edition.

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