April 14th, 2006

Take-Two's Confusing Corporate Health

Take your pick.

The financial prognosis for Take-Two (NASDAQ: TTWO) is either rosy or moribund, depending on whose analysis you believe.

In an article titled, "Three Video Game Firms with Long-Term Tailwinds," Morningstar lists TTWO along with Activision and EA as stocks investors should consider purchasing. While Morningstar lists Take-Two's risk as "above average" and cites "poor corporate governance" as "an ongoing issue for the firm," its report essentially argues that the stock is underpriced: "There is a reasonable argument to be made that Take-Two trades for a modest premium over the value of its GTA franchise alone, so a corporate event may help realize value for shareholders."

Here at GPHQ we'd call that unexpectedly good news for a company buffeted by board defections, shareholder suits, bad press and government investigations. But here comes the pain:

Marketwatch columnist Herb Greenberg reports that Take-Two has dumped its auditing firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and hired Ernst & Young in its place. As Greenberg writes:

"...the timing of the dismissal, on the heels of a delayed 10-K with disclosures of multiple material weaknesses, suggests otherwise. You think Take-Two, without prodding from its auditors, wanted to disclose that it 'did not maintain effective controls over the existence and valuation of its accounts payable related to inventory purchases?' I think not."
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Games the New Gateway Drug?

Will playing Halo 2 or GTA: San Andreas turn you into a reefer-crazed hophead - or worse?

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have released a study which examines whether playing violent games contributes to negative attitudes and behaviors. In the study, 100 adult men were divided into two groups. One group one played Grand Theft Auto III, the other The Simpsons Hit & Run.

The GTA3 subjects exhibited greater increases in blood pressure, an elevated tendency toward anxiety, depression and anger, more permissive attitudes toward using violence, alcohol, and marijuana, and more "uncooperative behavior" than those playing the Simpsons title.

The authors concluded that teens and parents may benefit from greater media education campaigns:

"Results of the present study suggest that media violence exposure may predispose adolescents and young adults toward greater engagement in general health risk behaviors and toward tension and conflict in social interactions with others."
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Another "GTA Made Me Do It" Case...

Were there no murders before video games came along?

Funny, we can't seem to recall Cain playing much GTA before he slew Abel. In North Carolina, however, a defense attorney used the Grand Theft Auto defense in the penalty phase for an 18-year-old client convicted of robbery, rape and first-degree murder.

As reported by the Wilson Daily, Kenneth Maurice Meeks Jr. (left) plead guilty in the horrific 2004 abduction, rape and killing of Brittany Willis. During his sentencing hearing, Meeks' attorney, Terry Alford, offered arguments for leniency, including his client's marijuana use and GTA playing.

Grand Theft Auto (no version specified) was "definitely involved in this case," Alford said.

Superior Court Judge Jerry R. Tillett wasn't buying the video game argument, however. Tillett sentenced Meeks to life without possibility of parole, the maximum possible given that the defendant was 16 when the murder was committed.

Commie Review Site Features Bourgeois Amazon Affiliate Links

Video game kapitalism is rotting from within, komrade...

When die-hard communist gamers take keyboard in hand, the result is a blatantly political - and unintentionally humorous - collection of reviews. The Maoist Internationalist Movement looks at a variety of well-known PC games in reviews slathered with Marxist theory and unabashedly red propaganda. In a rather suprising nod to capitalism, however, MIM offers click-to-buy affiliate links to Amazon.com for each game reviewed. Sneaky commies...

Here's a sample platter of MIM's game review rhetoric:

Civilization IV - "...The great person idea is a market concession to the popular bourgeois outlook on history, what Marx called historical idealism... there is one noticeably absent leader, Stalin... Russia now is stuck with the choice of Catherine or Peter "the Great." This is unfortunate considering there isn't much difference between two autocratic tsarist regimes... There is quite a bit of bourgeois bias in Civ4... In the game, it is a good strategy to oppress one's people with religion or bribe them with luxury goods.

Age of Empires III - "The game play... is very simplistic: build a lot of civilians, build up a big economy, and obliterate your opponent through superior terrorism. Naturally, the series is a big hit in the U$A... This game is a total white wash of history... On the plus side, the game is very beautiful to look at. Too bad this gorgeous engine was used for such a reactionary settler mythos worshiping game. That just makes the art even more reactionary... this is just dressing on a steaming pile of reactionary bullshit."
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