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Ken Levine Close to New Deal With Take-Two

| 8 Jul 2008 16:14
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BioShock mastermind Ken Levine is reported to be close to a new deal with Take-Two, a move that could bolster the company's ongoing efforts to avoid being absorbed by Electronic Arts.

The New York Post says the negotiations, first revealed in June, are at a "delicate stage," but that Take-Two wants to reward Levine for his success with BioShock and his cachet within the industry. Sources familiar with the negotiations say the new deal could be heavily incentive-laden, offering "points" based on the performance of his future games, but will give Levine more creative control over his projects as well as greater freedom to develop new franchises, concessions meant to balance the fact that he still won't be earning the kind of income seen by the top dogs at Rockstar Games. "Levine delivered a big hit for Take-Two and they want to give him a good deal going forward," the source said. "But BioShock isn't Grand Theft Auto. It's not even in the same universe."

While representatives for both Take-Two and Levine have declined to comment, analyst Evan Wilson of Pacific Crest Securities said holding onto Levine was very important for Take-Two's efforts to hold out against EA's hostile takeover attempt. Wilson said that without Levine and other high-profile developers in its stable, Take-Two likely wouldn't be able to attract interest even at the level of EA's current offer, which Take-Two has dismissed as being too low. "Having certifiable hit makers on staff is rare," Wilson said. "If Take-Two tried to sell without development talent, then what would EA really be buying?" EA recently extended the deadline for its tender offer for outstanding shares of Take-Two for the fourth time, to July 18.

While BioShock is Levine's highest-profile project, he has worked on a remarkable assortment of acclaimed titles over the course of his career, including Wall Street Tycoon, Dark Vengeance, Master of Orion 3 and Tribes: Vengeance.

Disclosure(s): Strauss Zelnick, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., is the head of ZelnickMedia, an investor in both Take-Two and Defy Media, LLC, our parent company. This article was published without approval or consent of ZelnickMedia or Take-Two.
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