GTA, Red Dead Parent Company Boss Responds To Coronavirus Concerns

Strauss Zelnick says Take-Two is uniquely positioned to keep working even if the situation gets worse.

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Take-Two, the parent company of 2K Games and Rockstar Games, is the latest company to speak about the impact of the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus). Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick started off by stressing that the health and safety of people around the world is far more important than the business of making video games.

In terms of Take-Two's business, Zelnick said he is not concerned about a significant impact. Take-Two's Private Division has delayed the Switch version of The Outer Worlds due to the coronavirus, as the developers at port specialist studio Virtuos are based in China where their office was closed. However, Take-Two is not expecting a material impact beyond that, Zelnick said.

The global financial market may take a "real hit" due to the coronavirus, Zelnick said, but he doesn't believe the games business will be meaningfully impacted.

Part of the reason why Zelnick is not stressing is because Take-Two has the capability in place to allow its developers to work remotely. That's not something he thinks will happen, but if it does, Take-Two will be prepared. "We have the ability to work remotely if it comes down to that, and I don't think it will," he said.

Zelnick said he has been skeptical of working remotely in the past, but he believes in it more these days. In fact, Zelnick said he expects that business travel will be significantly reduced going forward as people realize that tele-conferencing is a viable option for conducting business meetings. Face-to-face meetings might be preferable in a perfect world, but there are problems with that, too. Zelnick said to an audience of analysts and investors that everyone loses productivity time when they travel.

Also during his talk, Zelnick said he expects cases of coronavirus to increase going forward because the virus is more transmissible than the regular flu. He also took issue with the way in which the media is presenting the coronavirus.

"I think it's terribly unfortunate ... that the press is seemingly not aware that we have currently, right now, in America, 25 million cases of the flu. And in any given flu season in America, somewhere between 30 and 60,000 people typically pass away from the flu," he said. "That seems to be lost in the shuffle, and [the coronavirus] is the flu virus."

In other news, Destiny 2 developers at Bungie are now working from home, amid concerns around the coronavirus. This month's Game Developers Conferences has been postponed due to the outbreak, while E3 2020 is planned to go forward despite Los Angeles declaring a statement of emergency.

Zelnick is on the ViacomCBS board of directors. GameSpot is owned by ViacomCBS.

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