Future games must have multiple protagonists, says GTA parent publisher

[UPDATE] Take-Two says going forward, games must deliver innovation to succeed; "It's going to be very, very difficult for our competitors to do this."

[UPDATE] Following the publication of this story, a Take-Two Interactive representative reached out to GameSpot to clarify Zelnick's comments. The company said the spirit of Zelnick's talk was that future games must deliver innovation to suceed in the market and that his example of Grand Theft Auto V using multiple protagonists was an example of this.

The original story follows below

Take-Two Interactive has such high hopes for Grand Theft Auto V's three playable protagonists setup, that the company believes it will be an industry standard going forward.

"We think Grand Theft Auto V is going to redefine what an open-world game is and will be. We also think that you're going to have to have multiple protagonists in video games going forward," CEO Strauss Zelnick said today during the Cowen Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference in New York. "And we actually know how to do it because we're the first ones to do it. It's going to be very, very difficult for our competitors to do this. And they're going to have to do it in our opinion."

Zelnick said he believes being able to switch between characters with the press of a button in GTAV will allow for story to be told in an unprecedented way.

"This is going to be the first video game where you can shift seamlessly among three protagonists and if you think about it, one of the complicated factors in a video game has been the first person has to play all the emotional roles in the story; the good guy, the bad guy, the victim, the policeman, the cop, the hero," Zelnick said. "And, for the first time, you're going to be able to have three protagonists and that will actually drive the story forward."

Zelnick also used his platform to talk up the Grand Theft Auto franchise overall. He reiterated that the series has shipped 125 million units life-to-date and said the franchise is arguably one of the most important in all of worldwide entertainment.

"Our most important franchise remains Grand Theft Auto. We're proud of that; we're not trying to get away from that; we're trying to add to it, not diversify away from it," Zelnick said. "It's certainly the most important brand for Take-Two. It's arguably the most important brand in the industry. And one can even argue, and I'm certainly one to do that, that it's among the most important entertainment brands across any type of entertainment worldwide."

He also discussed consumer buying behavior, saying B-level games cannot succeed in today's market.

"What we do think is you've got to give consumers what they want; and what they care about is only the very highest quality intellectual property," Zelnick said. "A B-product simply isn't going to sell. And even an A-product has to be highly competitive to sell."

This sentiment matches up with that of Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat, who said last month that there is "no room for B-games."

GTAV launches September 17 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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Discussion

619 comments
DarkAztaroth
DarkAztaroth

*facepalms*
Castlevania 3 and many old games had multiple protagonists.
Some game actually made the thing dam interesting (Ark The Lad :Twilight of the Spirits comes to mind) But, yeah, it's not innovative, and it's not a special trend that will mystically make games successful either.

gen85
gen85

i would rather have one well written protagonist than 3 cliches anyday still im pretty psyched for the new GTA since its bringing back the rpg elements and customization that made GTA san andreas great

TheDebauchee
TheDebauchee

I think that playing as 3 characters could be very interesting and unique. If you dislike playing as one character you could simply switch to any one you like to play as. However, this idea may also take away from the immersion of the game. I always find that games that take you out of a characters story and introduces you to another as annoying because it interrupts the story of the character you are immersed in. If they write a story that smoothly transitions from character to character without interrupting the immersion and experience of the game, it could work. Rockstar needs to focus on how to get the player to think of the 3 characters as one, or part of the same group.

buffaloblitz85
buffaloblitz85

Really what past games have shown is that future games must be open world games. Truly open, Bethesda/GTA open.... I can't think of a single truly open world game that has failed.  Also mass customization is what gamers want.  All in all the less restrictions the better the game.   Story and number of protagonist is just a bonus.

PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

If only RPGs, tactical shooters and many other genres didn't do that already...

Talavaj
Talavaj

Blargharbla bla ...

In short: A CEO of a publishing company thinking he knows things about game development while caressing himself by self praise for things he is not responsible for.

Scholar_Of_Time
Scholar_Of_Time

Future games don't need whatever you think it needs....it just needs to be good...

swantn5
swantn5

depends on the story of the game 

TreFacTor
TreFacTor

While I'm excited about GTA V, I much rather prefer the ability to create the character and have the story catered to that character by way of optional story paths. RockStar may be taking on a huge undertaking trying too much. Gamers may not get attached or relate to either of the three. It will be interesting to see how they split time between the protagonists and develop each story line.

Enforcer246
Enforcer246

No. 

Don't try to go down the road of sonic games.

Robertle419
Robertle419

I find the idea of having a multiple protagonists is ok because for the fact that it can help create the story, base on characters personality  and style because if you guys notice the character we will be play as seen how their all different and if you take a look at RE6 that is a good example of having multiple protagonists

Koristar
Koristar

I want my character and I to feel as one. As a gamer, I do not agree on there opinion about  multiple protagonists.

flammable_zeus
flammable_zeus

That's pretty innovative. Almost as innovative as Super Mario Bros. 2 (which had four characters so clearly they must have had more inspiration.)

thermalmotion
thermalmotion

Why are they claiming GTAV is the first game with multiple protagonists?
Donkey Kong 64 comes to mind as do countless others.

Sheepsquad
Sheepsquad

Multiple protagonists reminds me of Heavy Rain.If each protagonist has their own story missions, that need to be completed together for a new set of story missions to open up, i'm down with that. I hope they take some pages out of Saint's Row when it comes to side missions utilizing an otherwise story-less zone.

leeko_link
leeko_link

Multiple protagonists = innovation? This is why Squaresoft should had released Seiken Densetsu 3 worldwide in the first place. Now these ppl claim to be first to an innovation that already exist.

QuadThumbs
QuadThumbs

I wonder if they are talking about games like Resident Evil 2? Remember you could play all the way throught with chris then come back and play all the way through with Ada Wong with the other side of the story.  And Both Charactors had 2 differant play throughs each. I never understood why other game developers didn't try this method of game play??

NorthernDruid
NorthernDruid

Even after correcting their statement, their claims are so moronic.

"This is going to be the first video game where you can shift seamlessly among three protagonists and if you think about it, one of the complicated factors in a video game has been the first person has to play all the emotional roles in the story; the good guy, the bad guy, the victim, the policeman, the cop, the hero," Zelnick said. "And, for the first time, you're going to be able to have three protagonists and that will actually drive the story forward." 

If you ignore that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Aztkaban let you switch freely between three characters.

 And every RPG with three or more party members.

This might be a largely non-false statement.

And that's only because they specified three.

 Oh, also Day of the Tentacle (and Maniac Mansion IIRC) let's you freely switch between three characters.

Other than that, acting as if multiple characters is this new huge innovative thing that totally hasn't been around for decades even if you ignore certain genres in which control of them is rather far removed (birds eye or further, NO TOP DOWN, BIRD'S EYE). You still have adventure games from the 90's to contend with.

Of course if they wanted to specify third person action games, then there are still plenty of games with three or more protagonists, and Kingdom Hearts Dream Drop Distance has them beat by a year with the switching between protagonists on the fly, each protagonist with a different part of the story deal. (If it's just switching between characters/party members or such the Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Ring of Fates has DDD beat by some three-five years before that again).


It's cool if they're gonna do something new to the franchise, but falsifiable claims of firsthood aren't exactly a good idea.

Because some people were around in the 90's (or even earlier) and remember stuff that wasn't that special back then isn't that special right now. And multiple protagonists are NOT a new idea never implemented in gaming before, not even third person action games.

Neither is switching between them freely.

Hey_Jay
Hey_Jay

'Must' is a pretty heavy word. Right, because the film industry is clearly failing from lack of a progressive mindset in using singular protagonists...

-___-

Innovation isn't simply what you write, it's how you write.

GollumDoesDrugs
GollumDoesDrugs

Just stop teasing me and release this game already, even for my wedding I wasn't this anxious

noandno
noandno

Multiple protagonist, multiple stories, multiple themes, multiple places, etc.

Future games must be MULTIPLE

MalakTawus
MalakTawus

Saying that future games should have multiple protagonists like they did in GTAV is simply idiotic.

Not that i have anything against multiple protagonists, but imo it's not necessarily the best solution, trying to give a general direction like they did is absurd 'cause it depends on the story of the game: some games will be cool with multiple protagonists while others will be cool with just one.

What really matter is if the story and the character(s) are good, their number is secondary, if not irrelevant.

vivalatour
vivalatour

oh I forgot to mention these videos are dust ...

vivalatour
vivalatour

getting to know the character you're playing should be interesting , it seems more involved to me ? like action speak louder than words sort of thing , I could be and probably am bias towards the splitting because I think I will prefer one character over the others , but , not given it a chance I won't shed any tears over it , it's not wrong to introduce new concepts as long as they don't reach to outdo themselves ? to me SRTT did that and to each his own " I QUIT " ! .... really really really looking forward to GTAV really !

PacoTaco
PacoTaco

I'd prefer 1 deep, likeable protagonist over 3 cliched ones I don't give a rat's ass about.

farcorners
farcorners

will the game length be split into 3 parts?

Lhomity
Lhomity

I don't see the big improvement that having multiple protagonists is. There's nothing with having one solid, interesting, well developed character at the lead. I'd take 1 excellent protagonist over 5 mediocre protagonists any day of the week.

If each of GTA V's protagonists manage to prove their worth, then, fine. Why should every game in future have to do the same thing? I'd rather developers/publishers follow their own creative direction and came up with their own new and interesting story ideas, rather than follow some bullshit unwritten law that says a game must have X, Y and Z in it.

rocketsatdawn
rocketsatdawn

This is kinda off subject, but is Alan Wake worth buying? It's 90% off on steam right now but i'm not a huge fan of the horror genre. I watched a review but i'm not convinced.

amar1234
amar1234

Take two must think we are not very smart, they haven't done the Gta franchise any favors. Vice city was the best bar none and that was before Take Two turned up. San Andres was a good game too, but you could tell some of the magic was starting to vanish. Then GTA 4 comes and its clear the franchise has completely changed for the worse.

The guy below thinks multiple protagonist means more plot and multiple endings but i beg to differ, it will just mean the game feels more like a soap opera rather than a cinematic movie. 

I like to feel invested in my character, like what i am doing is making a difference for my character. Having to worry about so many characters means we will feel no attachment to any of them. It would be better if you choose your character instead, this will also increase replay value.

The way they are doing multiple protagonists means the game will play out chapter based, it wont be as sand box anymore.

This isnt the first time Take Two has said silly thing.s They also cliam MMo dont work in USA.  Are they for real? i mean have they not heard of WOW? The mmo model is the true way forward in games. Being able to play a game where actual real people inhabit also is the future.

buffaloblitz85
buffaloblitz85

@Talavaj What cracks me up is the CEOs, Presidents and all upper management that handle the financial, publishing, and promoting of games, think they know how to create a game and what makes a good game.  This is the equivalency of an accountant for a wine company, being an expert with wine and being able to distinguish between good and bad wine. Laughable really... Welcome To Corporate America

buffaloblitz85
buffaloblitz85

@flammable_zeus Grand Theft Taxi should in no way talk about innovation... The past games have been stagnant since GTA III (with the exception of San Andreas and only due to character customization)

Klyern
Klyern

@flammable_zeus Or like Yakuza 4 (ryu ga gotoku)

or like Frontier Saga which had around 6 main characters?


yeah its not innovative at all, game developers dont know anything about games these days, because they are not gamers.

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

@leeko_link multiple protagonists is not innovative, but it can make for a better game in some cases. I hate GTA san andreas cause I hate CJ and since the whole game is all about a character I have no interest in I have no interest in that game. I liked Vice City cause I thought Tommy was a cool character and I also like GTA 4 cause I liked Niko Bellic. Now with GTA 5 if I don't like one char I can just play as another char which I like that idea, cause honestly Franklin does not interest me at all but Trevor and Micheal do. (No its not because he is black, its because hes a "gang banger" I hate the way he talks with all the gang slang and crap so if this game was all about franklin I would not even spend 10 bucks in the bargain bin for this game.)

Neo_Sarevok
Neo_Sarevok

@QuadThumbs Technically, you don't play as Ada Wong. You play as Claire Redfield, but I see your point. You don't play as Ada unless you're counting Resident Evil 6, which does bring up a good point... The vast majority of Resident Evil games use multiple protagonists anyways, no matter how minor their roles.

RE1 = Jill/Chris
RE3 = Jill/Carlos/Mercenaries
RE4 = Leon/Ada/Ashley
RE0 = Rebecca/Billy
RE5 = Chris/Shiva
RE Rev = Chris/Jill/... a ton.
RE6 = Leon/Ashley/Chris... a ton again.

While games like Final Fantasy and other RPG's pioneered multiple character parties, it was Resident Evil that really let you use a plethora of INDIVIDUAL characters.

buccomatic
buccomatic

@farcorners hmm good question! 


if it's not a epic long AAA title like past GTA titles. i'm not buying until it goes on sale 8-12 months after launch.

buccomatic
buccomatic

@rocketsatdawn hell yeah it is!

 it's a BADASS game! very creepy and some bizzare stuff! very immersive and super elite and ultra cool environment the whole way through the game. non stop and intense action, gunplay & gameplay is 110% kickass! it's hard and will test your skills.


i waited forever to get it for $15 on xbox360 because i thought it was going to be a short AA game and whew, i was wrong! it's an AAA epic game no doubt. it's pretty good length (with the dlc that is included) but not skyrim long - no, not even close. but it is a crazy fun game and probably about 20 hours long.


MightyEzekiel
MightyEzekiel

@rocketsatdawn If you like story and atmosphere then yes. might get difficult sometimes also. i personally loved it. :)

Dredcrumb9
Dredcrumb9

@amar1234 WOW was a terrible game, just a bunch of fatass losers who sit on their computers all day.

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

@amar1234 I disagree, I think GTA 4 was the best game in the series so far. As for MMO's being the true way of gaming NO THANKS. I played WoW for a while and got sick of all the elitist jerks that talk shit to you because you are not as good dps as them or as good healer etc etc. Not all of us have 20  hours every day to sink into a game to become true elite masters, I'd rather play by myself where I can enjoy a game my way without everything being treated like a competition. I think what you just said about MMO's being the true way forward is sillier than anything Take Two has said.

Dredcrumb9
Dredcrumb9

@stan_boyd @leeko_link If I was like most morons I would say "you a racist republican! you prob don't want gays to get married and you like BUSH!"

ssdd_again
ssdd_again

@buccomatic The world will be bigger than RDR and GTA IV combined. I don't think the word 'epic' will begin to cover this game.

Boom_Kat
Boom_Kat

@Dredcrumb9 @Neo_Sarevok @QuadThumbs Just to clarify you both, yes, you do play as Ashley in RE4. It's a small portion, but she is playable. Also, the girl you play in RE6 is Sherry from RE2 :P