Video-game publisher Electronic Arts may be retracting its hostile bid for smaller rival Take-Two Interactive Software, but a deal ...

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NEW YORK — Video-game publisher Electronic Arts may be retracting its hostile bid for smaller rival Take-Two Interactive Software, but a deal — and a friendly one at that — is more likely than ever.

Take-Two, best known for the popular “Grand Theft Auto” video-game series, confirmed today it expects to sign a confidentiality agreement with EA to begin formal discussions about “strategic alternatives.”

EA had said earlier it wouldn’t extend tonight’s deadline for its $2 billion tender offer to buy Take-Two. The companies have been unable to agree on a price for the past six months.

Now, EA is saying that if it does buy Take-Two, it no longer believes it can combine the company in time for the holidays, when video-game companies make most of their money. Because of this, EA said it needs to review assumptions made to support its offer price of $25.74 a share.

“They are both posturing,” said Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter. “EA is saying ‘We want to pay less,’ Take-Two is saying they want more. The important thing is that they are talking.”

EA already has extended its deadline for the offer five times, mostly to let regulators continue their antitrust review. The company said it would let the offer expire at 11:59 p.m. New York time today, and added it “remains confident that antitrust issues will not prevent or delay a transaction.” The Federal Trade Commission is scheduled to complete its review by Thursday.

EA said today it will entertain a financial presentation by Take-Two under confidentiality agreements. Take-Two’s management said it plans to present EA with its three-year product release schedule, financial projections and other nonpublic information meant to support its claims of what the company is worth.

EA wants to buy Take-Two not just for the “Grand Theft Auto” franchise, the company’s main source of revenue, but also for its sports business and critically acclaimed titles such as “BioShock,” which is being made into a movie.