Take-Two skeptical of Call of Duty Elite-like services

CEO has doubts about big-screen experiences on phones and tablets, says 90 percent of business still comes from packaged games; Take-Two and Rockstar franchise sales totals tallied.

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Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick took the stage at the UBS Media and Communications Conference today to give investors a general overview of the company. In a post-presentation question-and-answer session, Zelnick underscored the difference between the Take-Two and Activision approaches to a hit series.

Don't expect GTAV to have a subscription-based service tied to it.

When asked about subscription-based stat-tracking services like Activision has recently embraced with Call of Duty Elite, Zelnick was hesitant to endorse them.

"I can't tell whether it's relevant yet. I'm kind of skeptical, frankly," Zelnick said. "I suspect that we want a different experience on our big screen than we do on our middle-sized screen than we do on our mobile screen, because I think we use them at different times and they mean different things. I do think an intellectual property can thread through, but only if it is really high quality."

And while Zelnick didn't name names, he was critical of certain publishers' desires to annualize hit games that don't necessarily lend themselves to new installments every year.

"If you start trying to stamp these products out annually, we don't think that's consistent with a high-quality result," Zelnick said, adding, "If you give consumers something every year like clockwork, even if it's fantastic, there's a high chance they're going to get tired of it."

Zelnick also spoke to the publisher's general approach to digital distribution, revealing that packaged goods account for 90 percent of the company's business. However, Zelnick said that's not because the publisher is particularly enamored with the retail environment; it's more a matter of where consumers have indicated they want to buy Take-Two's products.

"We want to make sure we have everything available all the time wherever the consumer is," said Zelnick. "We don't have any currency around what platform something is, nor should we."

Updated Take-Two franchise unit shipment numbers
Grand Theft Auto - 117 million
Grand Theft Auto IV (individually) - 23 million
Red Dead - 13 million
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare (individually) - 2 million
LA Noire - 4 million
Midnight Club Racing - 19 million
BioShock - 9 million
Civilization - 11 million
Mafia - 5 million
Borderlands - 5 million
NBA 2K - 18 million
NBA 2K11 (individually) - 5.5 million
Carnival Games - 8 million

Discussion

112 comments
4514N_DUD3
4514N_DUD3

God wtf is up with all the trolling? I'm pretty sure all those people knew what they signed up for when they bought the game they dont really even need to sign up for elite. U guys kept saying its retarded n everything but I've seen all you people get it any way! Especially BF fans, u guys say ur more grown up and mature, well then STFU n just play ur dam game. If u really don't like CoD that much then you shouldn't really even bother post any comments about it at all. That tells me ur all pretty immature, plus wtf is up with u guys calling ur selves "real gamers?" that just tell me ur a virgin that's always in ur moms basement. Seriously, even when I'm playing CoD there would be BF fans trolling in there too. Seriously u guys can just say wut ever shlt u want, but the thing is... We don't give a FK! Get out of ur moms basement, and get a life. Sry for the long comment, but I just have to make a point. I'm not hating on BF I luv BF I try to play that every spare time I can find. I just hate BF fans and those annoying lil trolls always crowding up comments space with their spam about games that don't even relate at all!

another_drew
another_drew

@ jurassic85 and Infinity_gauntl unlinke you "fanboys" i have played cod since before cod4. and jurassic you keep saying perks and game modes like they're big changes. they're not. in the end all the game modes play exactly the same. and you say bf hasn't made any changes. are you blind? have you seen the frostbite engine? destructible environments are a pretty drastic change. at least they affect the flow of gameplay. o wow cod gives you more killstreaks, that essentially all do the same thing. kill players, reveal players, give you some kind of useless support. that's it. nothing about any of the new cod is game changing. and elite being excellent? how is it that everyone is bragging about elite when is pretty much just stat tracking, something other companies have been doing for quite some time. also infinity you can't compare god of war or ninja gaiden to fps'. they're an entirely different genre. action/adventure determines how the game plays. fps' have a little more freedom to change different aspects about themselves. something they are too afraid to do with cod. don't tell me they wont change what works because they did it with CoD4. or are you too young and newbish to remember back that? you guys do realize you are the only ones actively defending the series. everyone in here sees it for what it is. the same piece of stale bread year after year. and you are acting like i said that the games were crap. they're not bad but they're definitely not what they used to be. i play one i play them all. the only reason i own them is because i met all of my online friends through cod and I'm very slowly getting them onto BF. oh and I'm sorry I forgot the one drastic change they did make lag compensation. great idea...............

Bigbudd0045
Bigbudd0045

Man am I jonesing for the next Red Dead....which likely wont be till the next gen. Still finally got around to the first bioshock and wow. Thats a top 5 game of this generation for me and its a 4 year old game. If you havent played it check it out.

Infinity_Gauntl
Infinity_Gauntl

@another_drew None of the big titles will change their overall format - Halo, God of War, Ninja Gaiden, Uncharted and why would they do so? They all change locations, guns/weapons but rarley anything else and to do so could be suicide for the franchise (expect like @Jurassic85 said the only one that has recently is BF and they made it more like COD). I think your on a bandwagon of COD hate (which is really old).

Jurassic85
Jurassic85

@another_drew I'm not really big on defending CoD, but you are wrong. They added new a killstreaks system (support), 2 new modes, new perks, and Elite (which has an excellent free version), not to mention new weapons and equipment. I actually do play the BF series. What major additions did they make? Making it more like CoD? A slightly better graphics system? Oh yeah, and Snipers flash when they shoot. You are simply hating on another franchise that is sounds like you haven't even played.

foxrock66
foxrock66

While MW3 may have broken records, nearly everyone I've spoken to has significant gripes with their purchase. People are finally starting to realize what COD has become, it may take another year or two before the sales start to drop

dude976
dude976

Well yeah, I wonder why 90% of your games are being sold retail if they're either not on PC or bad ports.

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

@ExtremePhobia Exactly, couldn't be more correct. Thank god we still have companies which treat their customers well. Rockstar, Valve.. Gaming giants all seem to be going down the quick-release money grabbing DLC route now, but it's good to know some will remain true to their fans.

praack
praack

with the push for annual and elite like services, and especially the recent mass effect MP announcement- I keep thinking of an episode of Sony's The Tester-where a team got Dinged because they threw multi-player on they end because everyone else had multiplayer on their game concept. that was only a few short years ago- here we are today and the checklist is: annual installment - check multi-player - check 3 hour singleplayer- check ok to ship with day one patch- check addtitioanl 40-60 dollar special ('eeelite) package - check interfaces with facebook etc - check

Omega_Weapon_X
Omega_Weapon_X

"Tired of it...." And yet, MW3 went on to break all sales records since... ever.

Ni6htSorrow
Ni6htSorrow

@AuronAXE: Soon... The masses will get tired of CoD. The reason GH died pretty fast is because Activision released numerous games in one year, and it seems like Activision doesn't want that to happen to their CoD franchise. Although nothing is certain in this world, and sooner or later, the people will get tired of the same old CoD every year. Articles like these reminds me of why Take Two is my favorite video game publisher. Can't wait to some of their games coming up: Bioshock Infinite, Max Payne 3, and of course, GTA V.

AuronAXE
AuronAXE

"If you give consumers something every year like clockwork, even if it's fantastic, there's a high chance they're going to get tired of it." Oh God I wish that applied to Activisions properties. Somehow people haven't puked all over CoD yet, although they did that easily with GH. Very positive outlook by Take 2, giving developers the resources to create bigger games is important in innovating games and not sticking to a formula.

Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

Reminds me, Take 2 houses some of the best properties in gaming.

odog5100
odog5100

i like MW3...i like BF3 as well. going to play both when time permits again. liking 1 or the other because your familiar with the controls doesn't make you a "fan boy". IJS and as far as COD itself. outside of the game controls, its an entirely different and better game than Black Ops which was carried by Treyarch. from graphics and campaign to gameplay. only thing thats bad so far about MW3 are grenades are weak as ice water and connecting to games really sux. just let people enjoy what they want without trying to make yourself feel good lol

another_drew
another_drew

@Jurassic85 new game modes and equipment are not drastic changes. Also for sales who, who care about sales. The drain I was speaking of is the quality. Everyone knows that CoD has hit that brick wall and is doing nothing to fix it. Great new equipment, great different maps, ooohhh wow new game mode. None of that changes the fact that the game plays exactly same, looks exactly the same, and feels EXACTLY the same. Fanboys can defend this franchise all they want, but everyone knows that the only people who are so hard on this game are the ones who can't play anything else. I.E. BF series.

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

As long as GTA V isn't as numbingly dull as GTA IV, I don't care if it uses an on-line pass. "I am Niko. I'm going to mope my way through another generic GTA mission and then take my mongoloid cousin to go bowling for two hours."

Jurassic85
Jurassic85

@another_drew What do you mean they won't make drastic changes? Are there not now equipment, game modes, etc added each time? Spec Ops survival is something that I would consider a huge change. Kill confirmed and Team defender are solid additions to the franchise. Zombie mode has come a long way. The engine is the same, and the general MP gameplay is too, but they definitely make changes. I'm far from a CoD fanboy, but what you are saying is just not true. CoD is circling a large drain? Sales would say otherwise.

KrazzyDJ
KrazzyDJ

Just for the record, I find Rockstar's retail packagings of Grand Theft Auto to be far superior as compared to those of EAs. Feels like every Rockstar game you've bought is unique whereas every EA game has the same boxing !!!

Hurvl
Hurvl

Heck, I don't want games from one franchise to come out every year even if they're fantastic each time. I'll still be playing the old ones when it gets out and I don't want to buy any game that doesn't last me a very long time. I just recently started playing Knights of the Old Republic 1 (with lots of mods) and I have other good old games (some of which I bought at Good Ol' Games) that I still play/want to start playing.

another_drew
another_drew

@ Jurassic 85 sure they may be in development for two years, however i have pointed this fact out several times. The development of the games overlap so they are not going to make any drastic changes to the formula for fear that it would cause a downplay to the one that follows it. Sure its different companies, but it's still the same publisher. Everyone knows that what Acti says Acti demands. They are not going to introduce some big new change to the series, it'll keep being the same rehash game after game. Face it CoD is circling a very large drain at the moment.

100proofsoco
100proofsoco

"If you start trying to stamp these products out annually, we don't think that's consistent with a high-quality result," Zelnick said, adding, "If you give consumers something every year like clockwork, even if it's fantastic, there's a high chance they're going to get tired of it." This is exactly why MW3 sits on my shelf at home covered in a thin layer of dust. I usually dont bad mouth Cod or say rehash rehash blah blah blah. but this is a horrible horrible game. MW2.5 at best. Call of Duty Mehwarfare3 on a more story related note, can't wait for GTAV.

Jurassic85
Jurassic85

The thing that people fail to realize is that CoD is made by a different company every other year. It comes out annually but it's in production for more than a year. Besides, this guy is a hypocrite as Take-Two works on the 2K stuff that comes out every year!!

kvan33
kvan33

You cannot deny the sales figures for COD. Yearly releases work...so far. Now Assassin's Creed is completly different. I stopped playing after AC2, and refuse to buy anymore until a proper sequel is made.

taino1128
taino1128

So pretty much Take-Two refuses to do business the way that Activision and EA do. GOOD! GTA doesn't need to be milked with any subscription services or yearly releases.

Jordanballin
Jordanballin

Just thought i'd say this, if it werent for EA's bull**** all the time trying to get every dollar out of us, then gaming would be alot cheaper. EA started the whole online pass **** and everyone else adapted it to. The REAL game companies who actually make games because they love them more then just money like BETHESDA and ROCKSTAR, dont pull that ****. F*** EA, they are the worst thing thats ever happened to the gaming industry, just because they own some of the best/hottest game franchises around,they think they can charge us out the *** for it. LONG LIVE THE TRUE GAME COMPANIES!

X_Colbert_X
X_Colbert_X

I look at the games on that list and unlike most mega publishers out there, almost every single one of them is absolutely stellar. Out of the "Big 5" (Activision, EA, Ubisoft, THQ, and Take-Two), Take-Two often posts the worst figures, performance-wise. Why is that? Because they aren't out there pushing Rockstar or 2K Marin to produce games as fast as they can. Take-Two actually listens to its developers and if a developer like Rockstar needs more time, they don't question it, rather they simply say "no problem" and increase the budget. Take-Two is the Valve of the publishing world.

PayneKiller
PayneKiller

I never get tired of FIFA..... But anyway the way I see it, the stat tracking on Elite is free, what you do pay for are some extra perks like more online video storage and of course the map packs. It is almost no different from all these "season pass" things you see in the online stores for other games' DLC. Pay a slightly lesser price now than you would end up paying for all future DLC individually. Take-Two has already done it themselves with LA Noire. So I find criticism of Elite pretty hypocritical, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see another of these Season Pass things tagging along with GTA V.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

May have to add this page to my favorites. It's very reassuring to see a top developer 'tactfully' criticise some of (what I regard as) the worst practices in modern gaming. More power to him.

kweeni
kweeni

I want a new Midnight Club! D: Oh and GTA ftw!

hunter8man
hunter8man

Proof is in the numbers. None of these annual releases will ever be as memorable or high-quality as those games which developers actually take their time to create a great experience.

Grawse
Grawse

People still care for GTA? Not I after Just Cause 2. Can't wait for Just Cause 3!

ExtremePhobia
ExtremePhobia

@warhawk-geeby I agree with the both of you. It's beautiful to hear a dev say something like that. Especially a dev who has put out quality games and knows what they are talking about. Side note: Bioshock only sold 9 mil?

Benifited
Benifited

Take-Two hands down the best publisher. They let developers take their time and you get classic games like all the ones on the list above. I own or had every game on that list

Khasym
Khasym

I too have some reservations about an annual release of a game. We all saw what Guitar Hero and Rock Band came to after they oversaturated the market. Though, games like CoD and BF, MIGHT(and boy do I stress might) have that market, if FPS pro gaming goes mainstream. Those games can get incredibly stale to watch once the content's known. An annual release, maybe two or three weeks before the majority of the pro leagues start their seasons, would be a great tie-in, and offer good exposure. But that's a lot of hope heaped onto pro gaming. I have nothing against it personally, but I'm not sure it will ever get popular enough to justify games built AROUND it.

helldude90
helldude90

I totally agree with Mr.Strauss Zelnick.

Daian
Daian

It's great to see Civilization on that list with such good sales, just proves that a quality and well enough marketed product can sell well on PC too.

x-wing20
x-wing20

These are some wise words about franchise fatigue.

Earthen80
Earthen80

@DarRupert so you're not gonna play GTA V? Sucks to be you then. The GTA franchise is the only franchise that has NEVER disappointed me and I'm sure it's because of Take Two's approach to game development, if GTA was released annually (even though I doubt Rockstar would ever allow that to happen) then believe me, the quality of the games would suffer. I thank Take Two for not being greedy and selfish

DarkRupert
DarkRupert

after saints row 3 the gta franchise is dead to me.

jamyskis
jamyskis

"Zelnick also spoke to the publisher's general approach to digital distribution, revealing that packaged goods account for 90 percent of the company's business. However, Zelnick said that's not because the publisher is particularly enamored with the retail environment; it's more a matter of where consumers have indicated they want to buy Take-Two's products." I've gained new respect for Strauss Zelnick. Finally, an industry businessman that understands that it really is about what the customer wants, not what the industry would like to force upon us.

firehawk998
firehawk998

For every company that are hell bent to rip us off ( EA and Activision) its good to know that there are some companies that always try to treat the consumers with respect and still make a great profit. Take Take Two here. They could have released Max Payne 3 really early ( as a regular cover shooter) and make a quick buck on the brand name alone but they decided to fix things and release it after it was polished. Also their DLCs are awesome in the sense these are expansion packs ( GTA 4 DLC and RED DEAD Zombie DLC) and what DLC should be. Unlike EA where they release 1 hour quest dlc,tons of overpowering items( DA 2).

wan6danio
wan6danio

if fifa or madden were under take-two, imagine the possibilities

benboz
benboz

Take Two always bring out awesome games

zzcool500
zzcool500

now i feel like buying the game twice just to give them money

cheamo
cheamo

"If you give consumers something every year like clockwork, even if it's fantastic, there's a high chance they're going to get tired of it." QFT, point and case: Assassin's Creed.