In what must be one of the most candid and informative interviews done by any gaming company, Take-Two boss sat with Gamasutra to talk about a myriad of topics, including the risk and reward of launching New IPs on new consoles, brand building, his skepticism on Wii U and much more.
While Wii U was cheered by many industry professionals, citing the machine’s long-term potential and not Nintendo’s botched E3 2012 performance, Take-Two Interactive Software chairman and CEO Strauss Zelnick wasn’t among the throng.
“We haven’t announced anything,” says Zelnick on the possibility of moving the company’s mature titles onto the Wii U. “I’m skeptical.”
Zelnick’s skepticism, however, has nothing to do with next generation consoles. In fact the Take-Two boss can’t wait for PS4 and Xbox 720, as they’re prepping new IP experiences for said consoles.
Zelnick also explained their IP-building and preservation strategy as way different from their competitors who release different iterations of the same game on a yearly or biyearly basis. For them, it’s not market saturation, but rather well-thought out and planned releases over several years, a move the firm believes is more lucrative in the long term.
On PS4 and 720 he said:
“For a company like ours, it’s a great opportunity,” he says. “[New console launches] separate the winners from the losers — and we fully expect to be one of the winners.”
On IP preservation, he said:
“I don’t aim to annualize our non-sports titles because I think you run the risk of burning out the consumer — even if its very high quality [product]. Some of our competitors have had this trajectory where they extract a lot of value and the IP goes away. We’re trying really hard to build permanent IP. And if you have to rest the title for a few years, over time you’ll extract more value. … We’re not trying to create something good and market the hell out of it. We’re trying to delight customers with something great — and market hell out of it.
“We haven’t optimized our system – our slippage last year tells you we haven’t – but we’ve made a lot of progress. When I showed up here five years ago, THQ’s market capitalization was four times that of Take-Two. Ubi’s was twice Take-Two. EA’s was 25 time Take-Two’s. To say the very least, that’s not remotely the way the world works today. Would I like to apply a little more rigor to our art? Of course I would! Look at me, I’m a suit! But I have an excitement for what our team can do.”
Take-Two hasn’t announced when the latest effort from its biggest franchise, Grand Theft Auto V will be released. Speculation has it down for a December 2012 launch, however other analysts think otherwise, pinning the game down for a 2013 release instead. Although Rockstar owns the GTA franchise, the developer’s under Take-Two, making GTA, for now, a Take-Two published title.