Take-Two says next-gen development will be complicated and costly

CEO Strauss Zelnick says making the "standard bearers of the industry" will not come easily.

Grand Theft Auto parent publisher Take-Two Interactive believes creating compelling titles for next-generation platforms will be complicated and costly.

Despite the challenges, CEO Strauss Zelnick believes his company is up to the task, due in part to a drive to be fiscally responsible and disciplined, as well as the cash it has on hand.

"There's nothing straightforward about making what we hope will be the standard bearers of the industry. And there's no question that developing for what will be next-gen will be complicated and for the type of titles we do, will be costly," Zelnick said today in a post-earnings financial call.

"That said, we have a very strong balance sheet and we align our business with our costs; and one of our three strategic objectives is to be the most efficient company in the business," he added.

Zelnick's comments today don't match up with what the executive said in November. At the time, he did not foresee a significant increase in development costs for next-generation games. In fact, he said the opposite would be the more likely scenario--that games would become easier to make.

"We don't have a ramp-up of operating expenses for next-generation," Zelnick said at the time. "Do we believe the titles to be a whole lot more expensive to make for next-gen? And the answer is we do not. In many instances we believe that it may be somewhat easier to make titles for next-gen, depending on how the technology comes together."

Today, Zelnick said that in time, development efficiencies may be reached, but right now it's "too early to say" if that will be the case.

Take-Two's next major project is Grand Theft Auto V, which launches September 17 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation. Wii U and PC versions are "up for consideration." For more, check out an Ask GameSpot video feature on the game below.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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Discussion

410 comments
Collins0262
Collins0262

They're just looking for an excuse not to port GTA V to next-gen :p It will be expensive in the sense that a new console will need new expertise, new hardware/software for development etc. Developing for next gen in the long run will be much more time-efficient and thus less costly thanks to the simplified and similar architecture of both systems, especially that both systems and of course PC will support DirectX 11.1, the sales might be lower initially as people will probably take their time transitioning to the new consoles. Anyhow stop bitching and give us a decent title for next gen, like the agent or whatever, any game from rockstar simply rocks!  

vishalwales123
vishalwales123

i need friends for my NFS MOST WANTED GAME  please please add me my user account name is wales123486

Hurvl
Hurvl

Not so optimistic anymore, are we? The next-gen Playstation and Xbox are supposed to be more PC-like and that would make it easier to develop for them and port games to PC, so I hope that offsets any increases in development costs.

edinko
edinko

I believe the opposite to be true IMHO. Its less time consuming just to port a high end PC version that is equal on the next gens(with pc architecture) than to spend a lot of time to optimize and water down and suffer stuff like the cell processor etc.

It seems more like a justification for more monetization schemes

Vividnightmare
Vividnightmare

This just boils down to standard industry double talk. Basically the new technology is going to lower their development costs, they admitted this by accident, not wanting to have to lower prices on games and lower their profit margin they quickly counter their statement. Let them raise it to whatever they like, I'll either wait for it to come down or change hobby's. I'm tired of dealing with this corrupt industries greed mongering all the time.

LukeWesty
LukeWesty

But where do you draw the line. Game costs 200 million to make, triple A, so they sell at $70 then a B-rate game comes a long and thinks "great I can sell at $70". I think they need price for quality a bracket system which games sell at $40 and the triple A go for more because otherwize the crappy games reek the benifits from triple A games having to rise prices and them following suit.

Scarshi
Scarshi

Developers and Publishers have been saying the same about creating games for the PC for years, and that was mostly because of piracy. The old bait and switch tactic again.

Its not the expense that is the problem, its the smaller profit for the original game. Hence, enter DLC territory. My heart bleeds. Their happiness comes from our wallets and addictions. Hey, wait a minute. Are we being pimped?

bezza2011
bezza2011

Wait so next gen is going to cost them more even tho, the ps4 has stated it's spec's and is pretty much a pc under it's hood and you already make games on a pc and tone down the graphics and everything else to code it to say the likes of the ps3 system where it's nothing like a pc, :S 

maybock3000
maybock3000

Nobody will be able to afford next gen games or systems, because in a year or two the economy is going to totally tank. Things are going to get really, really bad and we won't be buying toys anymore.

baxwam
baxwam

Expect seeing a game selling 14 million being called a failure next gen 

chriswolves1
chriswolves1

nighterrorx you beat me to it, that was exactly what popped into my head when I saw the headline for this story

OldSchoolPlaya
OldSchoolPlaya

This guy should be a politician. Haven't heard so much double-talk since the Romney campaign!

nighterrorx
nighterrorx

Sounds to me Take-Two is trying to justify/prepare us for $69.99 to $79.99 prices for regular titles. 

Barazon
Barazon

The PS4 will be perhaps an order of magnitude easier to develop for than the PS3, due to not just a more standard architecture, but a SINGLE architecture.  To develop for the PS3, you had to use two different compilers: one to write code for the "main" CPU (or PPE) and a separate compiler for the 6 "satellite" processors (or SPEs).

Xbox development should be made easier slightly by the introduction of the Blu-Ray drive, in that you will have much more space available.  This will alleviate the need to balance out how detailed of texture files you can afford to create, how many minutes of digitized voices, etc.

It will easy cross-platform development because, with both using Blu-Ray, you should be able to fit the same size data (textures, voice, etc) on each version.  It may also be easier due to similar architectures, since they are both fairly similar to a PC.

tim1935
tim1935

I call (*cough* bull#$%#) the new consoles are glorified computers.  How much easier can development get for them?

IanNottinghamX
IanNottinghamX

So it begins.....the next big Fall of the Video game Industry...

dussan2
dussan2

This statement is for the shareholders so their expectations are managed appropriately.  Once the next gen consoles come out the spreadsheet monkeys and no-nothing shareholders/analysts will  sit there and wonder when the next Rockstar sandbox game will be released on it.  


Take Two gets fucked over every time because they can't manage their stock prices effectivley.  They get boosted by their big name titles, and then it slowly dwindles away because their AAA shit takes a ton of resoiurces to make.

deth420
deth420

these people shouldnt be aloud to address the public in any way.

deon99
deon99

All they have to do is keep making te quality games they have been making and they should have no worries about making their money back , and then some.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

Well... PS4 is easier to develop than the PS3 right?

Technically that's half of the next gen argument brushed aside.  I don't mind paying more for games if the costs are justified, but I'm not going to fork out extra cash for something that could have been achieved this gen.

Aside from the indies obviously ;)

commanderxp90
commanderxp90

I want to make a new deal that if you buy the GTA5, then you can play GTA5 on either PS3 and PS4 on the voucher inside the game include free DLCs. My strong suggestion is up for it. :)

gun_blade25
gun_blade25

Bullshit, it will be exactly as difficult as making current generation games. The only difference is larger textures, higher resolutions and better anti-aliasing, which most decent developers already provide for PC users anyways. If anything, the fact that PS4 and 720 will be using the same standard PC architecture will simplify the process greatly.

Pr0ving4Gr0undz
Pr0ving4Gr0undz

I could of sworn someone from 2k said it would be easier a while back. 

h1221292h
h1221292h

so in short, next-gen games will be expensive>

bradrame
bradrame

Kickstarter should solve a lot of problems, I think.

N-bellic
N-bellic

The game is clearly getting a PC release. All these screenshots are showing off graphics which current gen consoles couldn't possibly run.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

Wait a minute. One minute they are banging on about PC architecture is going to be easier to make games for. Now this guy is saying the opposite?

Does that mean the only thing that is going to improve on the next generation is the graphics? i.e. the most expensive part and one which isn't even essential to the game? They have obviously put a lot of money into some areas if they are already worried about it being too expensive.

If graphics is all next gen brings to the table I am going to be so pissed. Gameplay before graphics! How many more shit games need to be released before they realise this? All they are doing now is pouring resources into graphics, no wonder they aren't meeting their sales quotas after selling 3 million odd copies!

deathblow3
deathblow3

@Vividnightmare dude deve cost has been going up with every console games didnt used to cost over a million to make now it is 30 to 100 mil easy how is that cheaper. all those new graphics and bells and whstles cost money.

boom_f15
boom_f15

@LukeWesty Couldn't agree more.  Hopefully with next gen's embrace of different pricing schemes, this will become a reality.

patiotom
patiotom

@Scarshi I agree mate there is no reason why dev costs would rise at the end of the day games are designed on PC and down scaled to work on consoles, all this next gen is doing is raising the level of the base line (consoles) to that of a modest PC so surly now the development playing field should be a more level area making the whole process smoother between alls systems (especially when Sony have given up putting their own tech like the cell processor inside instead of "industry standard solutions").

The problem for dev's is that we consumers will only pay up to a certain price for a game (UK standard new release on Console £40 / PC £30). I paid £40 for NES game and i paid £40 for 360 games , just think what the dev cost difference between a game like Mario 1 to Halo. 4 Over the years as dev costs have risen they need to find another profit stream hence the DLC, F2P. Although most gamers are getting very savvy to this and cherry picking the best quality DLC, often because we know that the content should have been in the original purchase or adds absolutely nothing to the game experience!! I avoid micro transactions in games like the plague!!

patiotom
patiotom

@bezza2011 In other words the guy is talking out the back of his head, next gen will do nothing but make the process smoother. Im sure most dev's are rubbing there hands in joy at developing for a X86 processor and GDDR5 RAM/GPU rather than the constantly problematic Cell Processor used by Sony this gen!!

degaboss
degaboss

@maybock3000 ive heard that before, this is being caused by the system failure in USA economy to my understanding, huge unpayable debt that usa is generating, so yea hopefully we are wrong

OldSchoolPlaya
OldSchoolPlaya

@nighterrorx Then they should also be prepared to either take major losses, or make sure every game they (and every other developer) turn out is AAA.

IanNottinghamX
IanNottinghamX

@tim1935 its an issue of cost not technology. The bigger the console, the bigger the games, the bigger the games the more money it takes to make them...

faycerol3media
faycerol3media

@dussan2 They don't really make games to impress the shareholders anyway. They're one of the few developers that don't make games to make money for themselves. They pump it right back into making timeless masterpieces instead of annual crap.

steve4123456789
steve4123456789

@deon99You can only keep selling the same thing so many times before the demand for innovation. Even the hardcore Cod fans are turning. It's just a matter of time.

McGregor
McGregor

@gun_blade25 I started writing my comment before I read the others. I decided to read a few before posting, and what would you know, just a few comments down I find nearly the exact same thing I was going to say. Well said.

rpgnutt
rpgnutt

@N-bellic how do u know that it could be from a ps3 or 360 u have no clue unless ur there which clearly ur not

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@N-bellic Yeah it is called pre-rendering. It is the same way they make cool looking cut scenes and intro movies. How do you think they program games if not on a PC? Then they scale down the graphics to make them play on consoles because after all, a games console is for playing games not pushing the boundaries possible for graphics. 

Getting a new console capable of better graphics is fine but if the games suck what is the point?

McGregor
McGregor

@Dannystaples14 The funny thing is that graphics won't increase costs. They are already doing the updated graphics for the PC version, so where is the extra cost? Porting a game costs money, but a console that can handle the same quality of graphics as it's PC counterpart, shouldn't require much more dev.

gun_blade25
gun_blade25

@HyperWarlock @gun_blade25 I may not be a developer but I know a little about programming and I know a little more about marketing. If I had to take a stab at it, I would guess that he is attempting to drum up investment or reassure investors by painting his company in a positive light. Notice how he keeps things vague and doesn't make any concrete statements/promises/whatever. It's marketing 101.


N-bellic
N-bellic

Relax guys, I'm not trying to insult consoles or anything, I'm a console gamer myself:) I was just making an observation. I would love it if GTA 5 looked and good as the pictures are advertising.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@McGregor What? You don't think graphics cost to develop? What about the wages of the hordes of programmers they hire to make them? I'm not talking about just porting them over or increasing current graphics of an existing game, I was talking about graphics overall. 

Making graphics from scratch (or whatever qualifies as scratch) for a new game is one of the most expensive parts. And for what? Sure it looks good but most games that boast great graphics, have shit gameplay. Just look at the Crysis games. All three has a shite story and is pretty much a generic FPS with those abilities tacked on for good measure.

All show with nothing to back it up.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@p4kman88 Yeah it looks good. Apparently it is pretty baddly optimised though overall. That probably means they had a low budget graphics team working flat out to maximise graphics but not enough to make it truly perfect. That is probably saving them a hell of a lot of cash overall. We will see if they make their sales goals first.

I mean look at some games and they have armies of people working on the graphics. Each one needs paying and all of that comes from the end sales. Less graphics means less cost, less sales needed. What I love though is if they made the games actually fun rather than just nice looking they would get more sales overall. It is like they are hamstringing themselves.

I mean look at Colonial Marines. Not exactly ground breaking in graphics and SEGA actually made money on it. If they didn't screw up the story and gameplay they would be rolling in the dough right now. Quite an interesting correlation if you ask me.

McGregor
McGregor

@Dannystaples14 @McGregor @N-bellic Very true. I just look at it this way. The money I save on playing PC games (steam deals) greatly outweighs the cost of replacing hardware. My friends buy their games at the store/amazon for roughly $20 more than I pay, after 10 or so games, that adds up. I have only recently switched to PC gaming, but the money I would have saved over my consoles would have purchased a new rig after just 3 years. Even recently my little brother in law bought Tomb Raider on his xbox, it was $40, at the same time, it was $30 on steam. Same with Dishonored. Just with games, it adds up (for me) to about $200/yr. So if I have to buy a new video card, or something similar every 3-4 years. I'm still ahead.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@McGregor @N-bellic Yeah until PC overtakes it and then my PC for the same price as the console will slowly but surely get worse and worse at playing games until you have to spend more and upgrade. My 360 can still play every game released for it, my old PC can't. 

N-bellic
N-bellic

Well, like you said, a console is for playing games, not pushing boundaries. If you've got a ps3 or Xbox, why not just play it on one of those?

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@N-bellic I'd love it as well as long as I don't have to spend several hundred on a PC to run it.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@McGregor Yeah but the graphics capable on the next console is much greater than the current gen.

Take something like GTA games in actual simulated dimentions. Every items you see, every texture on every time, every person model, the sky above you the soil below you. The little personal touches that get added into really good looking games, all need to be thought up and made by a person. In a game like GTA that number of items is MASSIVE, therefore they will need to hire more people to cover the workload.

If they know the graphics of the current gen can't handle a certain level it is unlikely they will put it in in the first place. Saving them time and people power in the office. 

Sure they make good looking games on PC but the majority of games aren't Crysis 3 quality or Witcher 2 quality, they are 360, PS3 quality, where the only real difference is load times and render speeds on PC are greater. I don't tend to play a game on more than one system, but the games I have seen on PC that I like to play are either VERY AWESOME or about the same as console e.g. ports and non-ports.

If developers now start developing all games at current PC levels as standard games that are currently PS3, 360 quality like GTA IV or V, are going to be pretty much exponentially increasing the amount of time and effort that needs to be put into the graphics, just on shear scales. Because lets not bullshit GTA IV, neither worked properly on PC nor did it look that much better on PC so the cost wasn't much greater. Making it to PC levels to start with though?! And people wonder why they didn't bring V out on PC from the start?

If you ask me I wouldn't care even slightly if graphics didn't improve AT ALL in the next generation. 360, PS3 graphics weren't exactly bad. They should sharpen them up and make them more efficient. If they can learn how to handle everything there is about the current level, that will cost them less later on when they do decide to increase the graphics more.

Not only will that mean more emphasis can be put onto gameplay, story and size of games (something that has been slipping for years) and it will make the lifetime of each console longer. Since they won't hit their power limit quite so soon. And most people will buy their really fun games again and so they will make money. Wins across the board as far as I can see. 

Also PC fans will be happier because if they make games actually run properly on the consoles new PC architecture then the ports they get won't be as terrible as they have been in recent years. Since lets be honest consoles do tend to set the benchmark when it comes to what level of graphics to make a game at. PCs power increases, games stay the same as the least powerful console, then the whole idea of consoles holding PCs back starts all over again.

The industry needs to get out of this rut and start emphasising the best parts about games again. Their fun factor. Not their looks.

McGregor
McGregor

@Dannystaples14 @McGregor All I'm referencing is that the developers are already spending the money on current gen titles that they claim will increase their costs for next gen. So for games to go up significantly beyond what they are now to develop, seems like someone just saying something to say something. Most of the articles I've read have the developers agreeing that the costs won't go up much, because all the same tools will be utilized. They just no longer need to dumb down the graphics for the console versions anymore.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@poster012 @p4kman88 Yeah you are probably right but Nvidia are always pushing graphics beyond what most normal PCs can do now anyway. I mean just have a ganders at one of their conferences. Some of the stuff is like watching CGI in a movie. Totally epic.

I personally think graphics should increase gradually over time. But it has only been in the last nine or ten years graphics have really started to get beefy but for developers that is way faster than they can afford.

While some games may do it, some are still enphasising graphics way too much. Take something like Arkham City. Great feeling to play it. Awesome gameplay, sweet atmosphere, decent story, but if they had put less of the beefy graphics in Arkham City could have been bigger, had more missions and kept you going for much longer. I'll take that over graphics any day. 

I'd buy a game with PS1 graphics as long as the gameplay and story are great.

poster012
poster012

@Dannystaples14 @p4kman88 There are plenty of good games that put gameplay before graphics. The thing is, if graphical technology isn't getting pushed, then it's not going to get better and cheaper to produce. So, in a way, having crappy, graphical powerhouses benefits the whole industry.