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Grand Theft Auto V sales zoom past $1 billion mark in 3 days

By Malathi Nayak

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Grand Theft Auto V has crossed the $1 billion sales mark after three days in stores, a rate faster than any other video game, film or other entertainment product has ever managed, its creator Take Two Interactive Inc said on Friday.

The latest installment of GTA, a cultural phenomenon that has sparked a national debate on adult content and violence, received strong reviews and racked up $800 million in first-day sales alone.

That marked a launch-day record for the Grand Theft Auto franchise which is Take Two's most lucrative and allows players to cruise around a make-believe gameworld based on real-life locations such as Los Angeles.

Take-Two shares were little changed at $17.48 in early afternoon-trading on the Nasdaq.

Gamers had eagerly awaited the fifth installment of the 16-year-old game after Grand Theft Auto IV was released in 2008.

It took more than five years to be developed by Take-Two's Rockstar Games studio at a cost of between $200 million and $250 million, according to some analysts' estimates.

Last year, it took Activision Blizzard Inc's first-person shooter title "Call Of Duty: Black Ops II" 15 days to hit $1 billion in global sales after its November release. That game took in sales of $500 million on its first day.

While GTA V is off to a flying start, industry analysts are keeping a close eye on Take-Two's ability to sustain sales momentum.

Grand Theft Auto V is currently only available on Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 consoles, owned by over 160 million gamers. Take-Two is yet to announce a version for the much-awaited next-generation Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles, which will go on sale in November.

(Reporting by Malathi Nayak; editing by Andrew Hay)

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