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Analyst: Chinatown Wars Disappointment Proves Third-Party Challenge On Nintendo Platforms

Cowen Group analyst Doug Creutz says Chinatown Wars' underperformance isn't due to any "misexecution" on the part of Take-Two, but instead exemplifies the challenges for third parties on Nintendo platforms.
With 89,000 units sold since its March 17 launch, GTA: Chinatown Wars far underperformed analyst expectations -- but Cowen Group's Doug Creutz says it's not the fault of publisher Take-Two. "We view the title's performance as more indicative of the difficulties inherent in the Nintendo market for third party products and not due to any misexecution on Take-Two's part," says Creutz. As the analyst points out, Grand Theft Auto is one of the industry's most valuable IP, and with Chinatown Wars, it was delivered onto the platform with the largest userbase -- where it earned the highest quality rating in the platform's history. With all of that in its favor, it seemed likely that the title could perform to expectations even factoring in the DS demographics. "However, either the demographics are more challenging than we thought, or core gamers did not view the title as an essential purchase due to the nature of the platform," said Creutz. The analyst says Chinatown Wars was still a worthwhile experiment for the publisher, and that it's still likely to be "marginally" profitable. "The disappointing first month sales reinforce our view that achieving meaningful success on Nintendo platforms remains a very difficult proposition for third party publishers," he says. On Nintendo's Wii, Sega's M-rated Madworld was just revealed to have sold 66,000 units, a "modest" performance for a mature third-party title on a Nintendo platform.

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