Grand Theft Auto Parent Publisher Defends Microtransactions

"We are not in the business of erecting toll booths along the way of gameplay," Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick says.

Virtual currency and microtransactions are hot-button issues in gaming today, and now Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Grand Theft Auto parent publisher Take-Two Interactive, has spoken out to defend his company's implementation of such measures in its games.

"We're in the business of delighting consumers... that is a different point of view than most of our peers in the business" -- Strauss Zelnick on microtransactions

"Virtual currency done right just further enhances gameplay and engages consumers with our brands. And when I say done right, we are not in the business of erecting toll booths along the way of gameplay," Zelnick said this week during the Cowen & Company Technology, Media, & Telecom Conference in New York City.

"We're in the business of delighting consumers. And when we design our virtual currency packs, we do it in a way that will make consumers happier, not sadder that they are engaged with our games," he added. "That is a different point of view than most of our peers in the business."

It's all in the way of keeping gamers engaged with Take-Two's games long after release, Zelnick said. Just five years ago, Zelnick pointed out, the standard business practice was to release a game and then essentially walk away and move on to your next project. But now games are supported for periods of months, and sometimes years, with new content.

"We do it from the backdrop of delighting consumers," Zelnick said about post-release add-on content. "When we sell a consumer an add-on content pack, we want them to feel like they got more than they paid for, not less; and the message boards reflect that that's true."

Zelnick said Borderlands 2 is a prime example of how Take-Two puts its best foot forward for post-release content. In the 18 months since the game launched in 2012, the company has released 12 significant downloadable content packs and numerous smaller updates. He also said Take-Two has seen "good success" with its DLC season pass offerings, suggesting we'll see more in the future.

But expansion packs and DLC passes only crack the surface of what's possible for long-term revenue from a single title. During the presentation, Zelnick highlighted the success Take-Two has already had in the "recurrent consumer spending" department. He pointed out that nearly half of Take-Two's digitally delivered net revenue last year came from virtual currency sales led by offerings for Grand Theft Auto Online, NBA 2K14, and NBA 2K Online in China. More than 70 percent of all Grand Theft Auto V players have played Grand Theft Auto Online, but it's unclear how many have actually spent money on the game's virtual currency, GTA$.

What do you think about microtransactions in video games today? Let us know in the comments below!

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Discussion

117 comments
jark888
jark888

Microtransaction is one of the reasons I delay or skip purchasing new games. 

Still, I can understand why the CEO said microtransaction would promote support from gamers to keep the online digital world alive.

Stepn2myworld
Stepn2myworld

I hate microtransactions. I don't bother with free-to-play because of it. Additonally, if a $60 game has microtransactions, I usually skip it until the "complete edition" is finally released 18-24 months later.

kate_jones
kate_jones

I would be surprised if they are selling much money in GTA online, it's still so buggy and full of hackers and glitchers.

xsonicchaos
xsonicchaos

I'm not saying I believe this to be true, but I heard from someone who heard from a friend of someone that it's common knowledge that whoever defends microtransactions is a disgusting pig.

nyran125tk
nyran125tk

Well i dont touch microtransactions at all, never will. Stop supporting it with your money and kill it please.


When you buy a game like NBA 2K from now on and you see microtransactions, DONT look at the store at ALL and just pretend its not in the game and pretend it doesnt exist. Its easy. I play NBA 2K14 and i havent even looked at the virtual garbage. It hasnt affected my gameplay in the slightest, i just pretend it doesnt exist and play the game. 


DONT SUPPORT micro!!

Cpt_Cosmonaut
Cpt_Cosmonaut

MICROTRANSACTIONS ARE THE WORST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO GAMING. Unless you are some rich guy who can afford to spend $5 dollars on a pair of VIRTUAL SHOES in NBA2k14 or an item somewhere else. With that money we could be buying ourselves bread. STOP MICROTRANSACTIONS! You companies get enough as it is. Or at least let us unlock stuff thru playing the game. NBA 2k14 is a disaster when it comes to Virtual Currency.

Veenox
Veenox

A company will always be in the buisness to make money. Otherwise, they lie.

PSYCHOV3N0M
PSYCHOV3N0M

FOR THE RECORD:


Expansions, DLC, & Microtransactions are THREE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS.

Tsuchikage
Tsuchikage

DLC packs aren't microtransactions.

straightcur
straightcur

I bought a new fridge and every time I open the door, it asks me if I want to spend $49.99 to use the ice dispenser. I am so delighted that they did this to make me happier.

sumoman23
sumoman23

If their goal was "delighting consumers" then they wouldn't have halved the payout of all the missions after you have done them once, they wouldn't have taken one of the very few legitimate ways of making money in the game and made it harder on several occasions. They didn't want to "delight" us, they wanted us to feel as if the only way to make money and have fun was to spend more money on top of the $60 to buy the game and purchase in game currency. This has nothing to do with consumers and all to do with milking us dry and masking it as them giving us options.

cboye18
cboye18

They already have alot to tweak for the single player; aggressive cops with deadly accuracy, very short health/armor bar, lack of weapon variety, lack of decent/fun cheats, no vigilante/emergency missions etc etc..


Shut up and get to work.

ECH71
ECH71

Micro-transactions on a free-to-play game? Sure, why not?


Micro-transactions on a game you've already paid $60+ for? Hell no... unless all of it goes to charities like the American Red Cross.

Dr_Lucifer
Dr_Lucifer

Where is the shirt Trevor is wearing bought from?

TheWatcher000
TheWatcher000

"Consumers are delighted by our microtransaction schemes."


Why in the world do gamers keep putting up with companies that clearly do not respect them, and only want to bleed them for as much money they can while delivering as little of a full product as possible.


We get the industry we deserve, because we keep enabling these parasites.

TheWatcher000
TheWatcher000

"We are not in the business of erecting toll booths along the way of gameplay"

Even though that's what we're actually doing, and as long as you sheep keep paying for it, we'll only subject you to more, but you're a kook if you talk about it.


Gaming is just becoming an Orwellian tool to turn everyone into an ATM.


Enough is enough.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

Individual offerings vary too much for me to make a broad comment on micro-transactions, except to say as a rule I stay away from any game built around it. Even then, there could potentially be very well designed u-transaction-based, F2P games in which, after spending enough to be at a comfortable place, I would have spent only as much as a retail game of similar quality.

The greater harm of micro-transactions, in my mind, comes from what it signals about the games industry. The base motivation for this business model is to milk, for lack of a better word, every customer individually for as much as he/she is willing to pay. Though it has its benefits, it also necessitates certain design decisions contrary to older expectations about retail games. If the entire industry adopts this model, older gamers will find the kind of "games" they played no longer exists. Then again, if newer gamers don't have a complaint, I guess there really isn't a problem.

playstationzone
playstationzone

Well people should leave Take Two and RockStar Games alone they try to make teenages and Adults happy and ya GTA5 Is Best game in series so far because they took a big risk for gta5 and they sold out of gta5 and ya i would buy game again for ps4.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

I'm more than happy to pay for extra content, but paying for virtual consumables strikes me as asinine. Don't we have enough bills to pay for in this day and age?

Poison-tooth
Poison-tooth

This guy change his speech according to the audience. We can see through this one Mr. Zelnick. Nice try though.

allever
allever

This guy is the King of Spin.

nurnberg
nurnberg

I don't think anybody like microtransactions, including those who buy them.  So it is absurd to claim that microtransactions are "delighting consumers".

VR_Verdugo
VR_Verdugo

This guy has a future in politics with doublespeak like that. It's the type you hear just before and after you've been screwed over.

biggamer194
biggamer194

"We are not in the business of erecting toll booths along the way of gameplay," Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick says. Looks at GTAV, see's the attempt to force players to buy shark cards, turns head in disgust! This high life update def added more restrictions and made rooftop rumble boring!

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

There is no defense of microtransactions - their only purpose is greed - we want more money.

Evil_Sidekick
Evil_Sidekick

Expansions and DLCs are not really what i call microtransactions....


Microtransactions don't work in SP, no matter how much developers and publishers want it.

Why?

It destroys character evolution, progression and story.

BabeNewelll
BabeNewelll

Next they will be selling single payer cheat codes that are currently free just like grand turismo and dead space 3 did.

misternathan
misternathan

"We are not in the business of erecting toll booths along the way of gameplay,"


...We're still doing it, we just find it uninteresting.

Raged4Life
Raged4Life

My ass! Delighting customers at a price every few steps of the way. Take your micro transactions and stuff it pigs!

archav3n
archav3n

Take2 and R* are winning huge. Thanks to blind consolitist

misternathan
misternathan

That was a pretty sleazy attempt at justifying an exploitative business model, Strauss.

myungish
myungish

"We do it from the backdrop of delighting consumers," 


I think you got 'my accountant' mixed up with 'consumers' there, Straussy.

thermalmotion
thermalmotion

No.... Take Two, I thought you were still one of the good guys :(
Corporate greed syndrome.

ghost140
ghost140

I don't see why these devs have to keep defending this as the "gamer" population has already spoken they like being nickel and dimed for their gaming experience. If they didn't like it they wouldn't spent so much money on it and these micro transactions would have gone away by now. I have already spoken with my wallet and im sure many other have too but we are but a minority in the mob that is the new generation gaming.

Divisionbell
Divisionbell

The microtransactions were not done just right. GTA Online is designed to force microtransactions or spend a ridiculous amount of time grinding to save up for something. They ruined the online experience. Thank god there was the money glitch to resolve that issue.

DARREN636
DARREN636

I've been saying this since Xbox in 2002

Don't drink the coolaid kids.

nyran125tk
nyran125tk

@Cpt_Cosmonaut just dont support it dude. Buy the game, dont touch the micro-garbage. Pretend the xtra stuff, is just flat out not in the game.

kate_jones
kate_jones

@straightcur have you see those ones that take soda stream cartridges. Awesome but almost requires a subscription fee to your fridge

TheWatcher000
TheWatcher000

@Thanatos2k 

But haven't you heard?  We are "delighted" by them.

And we will have to be put on suicide watch if they don't give us more of what we want, because we are so desperate in our need for them.

Can't you see they are just trying to save our lives and feed our addiction?


How can you criticize such humanitarianism?

xsonicchaos
xsonicchaos

@Evil_Sidekick 

Tell that to Dead Space 3.

Also, expansions (as we knew them) and dlcs kinda aren't the same thing either. But today, DLC is a generic description and can include expansion packs, map packs, maps, guns, and all kinds of micro-transactions (< see what I did there?), for both single player and MULTI player.

SweetPandaLove
SweetPandaLove

@jake198624 The fact of the matter is, people continue to buy DLC, so they continue to make it.  Don't purchase it and it goes away.  The companies, right or wrong, are making money off it.

SweetPandaLove
SweetPandaLove

@jake198624 Your example doesn't work.  There was clearly a sign up front that said "Ketchup packets $1.59 each."  Not their fault you didn't notice.  You're also not required to eat there if you are dissatisfied with your purchase/experience.  Why would you continue to go back?  You wouldn't, no one is holding a gun to your head.  Yet, if you continue to go, why would they change it?

Divisionbell
Divisionbell

Except GTA didn't state microtransactions on the box now did they?