[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.