Console gaming is "alive and well," despite what the doubters might say, according to Take-Two president Karl Slatoff. Speaking during a BMO Capital Markets conference this week, the Grand Theft Auto parent company executive explained that Take-Two is "pleased and very excited" about the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 launches, with sales of 2 million each proving that console gaming is not doomed.
He tempered his comments by acknowledging that it's still "early days" and pointed out that new product releases in the holiday season typically sell out, even if they are not a success in the long run. All of that said, Slatoff said he is optimistic about the future of console gaming.
"But this was a little bit different because there is a lot of noise around the gaming industry in general and a lot of question about whether this console cycle will have the same juice as the previous console cycle," he said.
"And there are a lot of doubters about whether or not the console market in general is dead," he added. "And I think the successful launches for the PS4 and the Xbox One have proven that obviously console gaming is alive and well."
Also during the conference, Slatoff explained why the Grand Theft Auto franchise--the pillar of the publisher's portfolio--is released at a slower rate compared to other blockbuster franchises like Call of Duty or Assassin's Creed, which come out every year. He claimed the GTA franchise raises the bar with every new installment, and creating such industry-leading games isn't something that's likely to happen with a shorter development cycle.
"There is always a way to speed up development. And then you have to ask your question of do you want to? Is it the right business decision to make?" he said. "And if you could speed up development and not sacrifice quality and every time you come out with whether its GTA or different product, every time you came out with it, if you could do it and take video gaming to the next level--which is what happens every time GTA comes out, it sets a new standard for video gaming. If you could do that every year and if you could do that without tiring out your franchise then that would be a really good thing."
Another reason Take-Two doesn't release GTA games more regularly, Slatoff said, is because the company is committed to creating new franchises, so that in the event one series goes dry, another can fill its shoes.
"For us specifically, it’s very important to invest in other products because we don’t want to be ever in a situation where a product sort of runs its lifecycle and then there is nothing there to replace it. So we’re very focused on new IP. So there is always an opportunity cost to dedicating all of your resources or the vast majority of your resources towards any one franchise," he said. "It may work really well in the short-term, but it’s a very dangerous thing to do in the long-term and that is not something that we’re interested in doing."
Slatoff said Take-Two always has room to improve regarding the efficiency of its development processes. But at the same time, he said the company is continuing to invest in new ways to drive consumer engagement in an effort to keep people playing longer. This includes creating compelling expansion content for games like Grand Theft Auto V.
"We have more tools in our disposal," he said. "And GTA Online is another example of that where we can keep the consumer engaged with the franchise in between these tentpole releases, so it doesn’t matter quite as much when they come out."