June 9th, 2006

Take-Two CEO "Pleased" With FTC Verdict

When a company happily accepts a public thrashing from the Federal Trade Commission along with the threat of crippling fines for future violations, you know they must have been really worried about the alternatives.

According to Next Generation, Take-Two CEO Paul Eibeler said yesterday, "We are pleased that the FTC has concluded its very thorough investigation, and that the matter has been resolved. We recognize the importance of the FTC investigation, and the necessity of maintaining public confidence in the ESRB rating system, and helping the ESRB educate parents and consumers about the rating system. We look forward to putting this behind us."

The embattled CEO was reacting to Thursday's FTC Hot Coffee report which said that Take-Two and its Rockstar subsidiary had engaged in deceptive marketing practices and circumvented the industry's rating system. The FTC threatened fines up of to $11,000 per unit sold for future servings of Hot Coffee.

Eibeler made the remarks during a quarterly conference call with investment analysts in which the firm disclosed a $50 million loss for the second quarter of 2006.

Take-Two stock (NASDAQ: TTWO) dropped nearly 14% in overnight trading to 14.45. TTWO has lost roughly half of its equity value since its pre-Hot Coffee high point.

Want to talk about it? You can discuss this story via the "comments" feature (click below), or in the new GamePolitics Forums...

NPR on Columbine RPG & Stephen Colbert Talks Games with "Everything Bad Is Good For You" Author

GP readers have tipped us to some worth-catching programs from the mainstream media this week.

On Tuesday NPR's excellent Here & Now did a segment on Serious Games, including the highly controversial Super Columbine RPG. Host Robin Young interviewed the game's creator, Danny LeDonne as well as Columbine victim Richard Castaldo.

In defending his game, LeDonne said, "We as a society have not yet viewed video games with the same level of academic or artistic credibility that a film would have."

Young also interviewed Georgia Tech professor Ian Bogost, founding partner of Persuasive Games, who talked about the controversy surrounding the Columbine game.

"Video games are still struggling to be seen as a medium and not just a distraction," Bogost said, "Not just a kind of leisure time activity that you use to waste time. This happened before in every other medium. You can just look back at graphic novels and comics for example and think of a work like Maus by Art Spiegelman, which is this graphic novel about the Holocaust and see some of the same kind of issues coming up as we try to make sense of a medium like the video game."

Here & Now also covered MTV award winner Darfur is Dying, the United Nations' Food Force, and the execrable Border Patrol.

On Comedy Central last night, Stephen Colbert interviewed Everything Bad Is Good For You author Steven Johnson and apparently the two spent a goodly amount of time talking about video games. GP missed that, but is Tivoing this morning. It looks like the Colbert Report repeats at 8:30 A.M. and 2:30 P.M. here in the Eastern U.S.
Read more...Collapse )

Thompson Outs Police Benefactor Over Take-Two Connection

A businessman and philanthropist who volunteers as chairman of the Seattle Police Foundation is under fire this morning for also serving on the board of Take-Two Interactive.

As reported by the Seattle Times, Michael Malone (seen at left), a music entrepreneur and hotel owner, was one of the founders of the Seattle Police Foundation, a non-profit organization designed to support and honor the city's police officers.

Yesterday, however, controversial Miami attorney and anti-game activist Jack Thompson happened upon Malone's name listed as a Take-Two director while researching the company's web site. Malone's bio on the Take-Two site clearly states his connection to the Seattle Police Foundation.

Thompson immediately fired off an e-mail to the Foundation's board of directors as well as various media outlets, informing them that Malone was a member of Take-Two's board. Take-Two, of course, publishes the Grand Theft Auto series which allows players to commit animated violence against police officers.

Reaction to Malone's Take-Two connection was swift - and negative.

"I don't think anybody would argue that these video games are a detriment to the safety of police officers," said Jim Johnson, who is CEO of a local athletic club as well as a fellow Seattle Police Foundation board member. "I don't think Mike would want to stay on, and it would be very difficult for the board to support that. It's a direct conflict."

Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske praised Malone's past contributions in obtaining bulletproof vests and other equipment for SPD officers but expressed concern about the GTA connection.

"We've had officers, because of that equipment, who are in a better position to go home at night," Kerlikowske said. "But an association with a company that manufactures those games, that's certainly something I'd like to talk to Mike about."
Read more...Collapse )