E3 2009 Q&A: Discussing E3 and the current console cycle, president Ben Feder declares the just-announced PS3 exclusive has the Houser Bros. and Rockstar North's "A team working on an AAA title."
LOS ANGELES--Unlike in past years, this year's E3 Sony press conference saw the platform holder's cup runneth over. Besides the PSP Go, native PSP video store, and new motion-sensing technology, the company showed off a series of high-profile exclusives, including MAG, God of War III, Uncharted 2, The Last Guardian, and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.
Ironically, the event dedicated only a few moments to a title that has the potential to be one of the biggest PS3 exclusives ever, Agent. The game is the mystery title announced in 2007 by Rockstar North, developer of the Grand Theft Auto series. Ben Feder, president of Rockstar parent Take-Two Interactive, believes the game could achieve the same level of success, given that its development is being overseen by Rockstar Games founders Sam and Dan Houser.
"We think this has the potential to be yet another great Rockstar North franchise title. ... It's the Houser Brothers and Rockstar North. It's the A team working on an AAA title. I think the subject matter, the characters, the story, the environment, the background--all the elements are there. It's such a rich environment to play in."
Speaking with GameSpot on the Electronic Entertainment Expo show floor, Feder explained the decision to develop the game solely for Sony's console. "The trade-offs a publisher will typically make is, if you're platform-agnostic, you get a larger installed base," he said. "You're platform exclusive when you get the right kind of support from first parties."
Take-Two believes Sony will offer the same kind of support that made Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas--all initially PlayStation 2 exclusives--three of the top 10 selling games of all time. Said Feder, "At this phase in the cycle, when you're trying to launch a new franchise, exclusivity can really help you launch the franchise. It can give you the kind of platform that you need to start exclusive, start in the right kind of way with the right kind of partner. Exclusivity does work."
Feder is also unfazed by the fact that the PlayStation 3 is currently a distant third in the three-way console race. According to Sony, the console has a worldwide installed base of 22 million units, compared to the Xbox 360's 30 million and the Wii's 50 million-plus.
"I have a lot of confidence in Sony. I have a lot of confidence in their ability to lead the market, as they always have," declared Feder. "Their console is a terrific platform to be developing for, and Agent is a great testament as to our belief in what that platform can do, and what they can do with us as part of a partnership."
The executive also thinks Sony has plenty of time to get back on top. "I think this console cycle is going to be a lot longer than people think," said Feder. "I think it's still very early--we're definitely not in a five-year cycle, and this is going to go on for a long time. I think that's good news for developers and good news for consumers. When that console change happens, I think there will be a lot of excitement for it at that point, because technology will have had the time to really accelerate and develop."
"If you look at this console cycle and the games shown at this E3 versus the last E3, or the E3 before that--all during this console cycle--the games are looking better, they're getting more exciting, they're packing more into the games. I know we're packing an enormous amount in BioShock 2 and Mafia II--those are stunning games. You wouldn't even have seen those games two years ago. So I believe we'll continue to see more innovation in this console cycle."
Ironically, it was the desire to create stunning games that led to the recent delay of two top Take-Two titles: Mafia II and Red Dead Redemption. "What can I say, we serve no wine before its time," Feder said. "Our number one goal is to be home for the best creative talent in the business, because that means putting the best games out. But we'll never ship a game before we know it's ready. If it needs a little bit more time, we'll give it a bit more time."
Red Dead Redemption and Mafia II are now scheduled for the first quarter of Take-Two's 2010 fiscal year, which runs from November 1, 2009, to February 28, 2010. "We haven't given any detail beyond that," he said, meaning that one or both games could still be released in calendar year 2009.
On the business tip, Feder said the reason Take-Two beat expectations during its last fiscal quarter was due to "strong performance of both catalog titles and new releases." One title, however, that didn't perform as well as analysts had predicted it would is Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for the DS, which has sold only 162,000 units during its first two months on the US market.
Feder, however, said his company was satisfied with Chinatown Wars' sales. "It's meeting our expectations. We're very happy with it. It's the best-rated game ever on the DS platform. We think that's a great success." He demurred, however, when asked if Rockstar would ever make another M-rated game for the DS. "We're partnering with Nintendo in all sorts of ways, but we make those decisions on a case-by-case basis."
As for Nintendo's console, Feder deflected questions about whether or not 2K Marin (BioShock 2) is developing a Wii project, as some of the studio's job listings have indicated. "I can't comment on that. ... I can say that, if we feel there's a market for a certain type of game on a platform, we will bring the two together."
Feder also said Take-Two was "very pleased" with the performance of Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned. He did, however, maintain his company's steadfast silence about sales of the Xbox 360-exclusive, download-only expansion. "We haven't released numbers, and we won't," he said flatly.
The executive's recalcitrance is likely linked to the financial reasons behind the expansion's exclusivity. According to a 2007 Take-Two earnings report conference call, Microsoft paid $25 million for Lost and Damned and another $25 million for its successor, the Ballad of Gay Tony.
Despite its provocative name, Feder is confident the second GTAIV expansion will do well. "It will pack just as much, if not more value," he chimed about the $19.99 add-on. "It's got a lot of innovation, a lot of humor. I think we're going to deliver on what gamers want from us and the GTA franchise."
As for this year's expanded E3, Feder echoed many analysts' praise. "I think this is much more reflective of what the video game business is," he told GameSpot. "It's not just a showcase. I think it projects the right characteristics of the industry--growth and excitement."
Feder also felt E3 2009 was more effective in terms of deal-making than both the smaller-scale insider events of 2007 and 2008 and the massive confabs that preceded it. "I think there's more business being done this year than any time in the last five years," he declared. "Retailers are here--over 100 retailers, last I heard. And when you talk to publishers about getting business done, relationships with retailers is a big deal."
Looks like Rockstar San Diego beat them to the punch. Red Dead Redemption is definitely the "next GTA."
Microsoft don't need it, they got Gears of War 3 and Alan Wake!! I can't wait for more details to see how good or bad it'll be.
@ george999819 the only reason L.A. Noire did not stay exclusive was that Sony stopped funding them.
Why does everyone keep saying this is going to 360? Microsoft payed them $50 million to bring GTA IV to the 360 with one-year exclusive DLC, and in return, this game was reserved for the PS3. That's why it was first "announced" (as a new IP exclusively for PS3) in 2007.
It's HIGHLY doubtful that Agent will stay exclusive. Rockstar said L.A. Noire was only possible on the PS3, but now all signs point to a 360 and PC release. And L.A. Noire is a much more ambitious project for Rockstar than Agent. It apparently cost more than GTA IV to develop and has been in development for countless years.
This game is going to show the difference between ps3 and xbox 360!! Hopefully they dont stuff it up!
please dont dissapoint it sounds cool but i heard its gonna be in the cold war and that kind of killed it a bit for me
heh I highly doubt it will release on the 360 if it does then cool but I recommend the ps3 though in my opinion :)
I love 2k games I really hope this one comes out well too, if in the end it does really become a ps3 exclusive they can do more with the game
This game sounds like it's going to be good. They had me when they said " Agent to be the next GTA" and when they said it was exclusive TO THE PS3. I love the series. Go Sony go! :P
@fadimalla mr marlboro wasnt being a fanboy like you since you got enraged because he prefers a certain system. hes just making a comment based on how the market is going right now. hes got a point and thats why your mad. your afraid that the 360 went too short term as it seems to have.
The announcement of Agent exclusively for PS3 is only compared to the announcement of the exclusively DLC gay stuff paid by microsoft to GTAIV on x360. lol
It doesnt hurt that sony is now pay developers to make more PS3 exclusives but Gamespot wont report that cause they have been sony fanboys for a long time.
I'm disappointed that there's nothing in terms of media, and details. We're given a glimpse at the logo, and a small detail of the games foundation.
I'm going to definitely be getting this. Thank the Lord ps3 won't have to suffer this game looking like s**t like GTAIV did :) And i'll be getting The Agency too ... MMO spy game, should be good if Sony are pumping this much money into it.
im really exicted about all the games rockstar is making like max payne3 red dead and agent.But what i wanna know is were the hell is la noire?
Sweet. Rockstar are just echoing the thoughts of many of the insiders in the games industry with those comments. Without wanting to start a fanboy war, I think it's too early for x boxers to claim a victory in the so-called console wars ( I didn't know there was a war on?). As Ben Feder said "I think this console cycle is going to be a lot longer than people think. I think it's still very early--we're definitely not in a five-year cycle, and this is going to go on for a long time. I think that's good news for developers and good news for consumers''. Couldn't have said it better meself : ) Need more info on Agent before we can make a judgement though
this is the story you will hear alot from now on.......companies make exclusives for ps3 and not for xbox....and why? because of the blue ray and the capabilities that ps3 have and xbox dont....many games stood back in graphics and bigger maps cause of stupidity of microsoft and the day that they will pay the price is coming...its like ps3's running a marathon and xbox360 a 300m with obstacles
do they mean in terms of sales and hype and popularity for saying the next GTA or just gameplay, because if I wanted GTAIV then I'd get it... @greenboy, if your talking about ballad of gay tony, MS bought it for 25mil. as is said in this article, if anything else i don't know.
Why do the GTA IV sequels have to be about characters we dont care about? Why dont they make them about Packie or Roman? OK Roman would be a little odd. And why does it have to be 360 exclusive?
OK, maybe expecting a groundbreaking game like GTA is a lot... I kinda expect it to be on the same quality level of Bully or The Warriors, still awesome games, but not as universally acclaimed. It would be good enough for me lol
nearly every game made by rockstar north has had the same type gameplay. A linear series of missions, with a number of exploration elements. i Think agent will be similar to gta
Sounds good to me. Usually when games are exclusive to one console, they end out better. Lets just hope this is the case with Agent.
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