Single-Player Is Not Dead, Despite Rise In Multiplayer And Live Services - Take Two CEO

GTA Online and Red Dead Online are making huge money from microtransactions, but Rockstar is still focused on single-player as well

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Take-Two, the parent company of Rockstar Games and 2K Games, fundamentally believes in the single-player experience, despite a rise in live services both at Take-Two and across the industry. During an earnings call this week, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said its Rockstar Games label has always been known for its excellence in storytelling and single-player, and you should expect the company to continue to invest in this with its projects going forward, despite the rise of GTA Online.

"The folks at Rockstar Games intended to create a powerful single-player experience a story driven experience. And Rockstar has always been known for great stories and great single-player experiences and then developed in addition, a massive multiplayer opportunity over the past years," he said.

Zelnick said Rockstar's ability to have success in both single-player and multiplayer within its games demonstrates that the developer doesn't have to choose--it can have both. GTA Online and Red Dead Online set new player records in 2020, while the base games themselves also continues to reach new sales milestones. This is all despite no single-player expansion ever releasing for Grand Theft Auto V. In the past, several single-player expansions released for Grand Theft Auto 4, but the online mode in the game wasn't as robust.

GTA V is now up to 140 million copies sold while Red Dead Redemption 2 has climbed to 36 million.

Rockstar is firing on all cylinders.

"I think it's a reminder, not that we needed one, that Rockstar Games can do both of those things at the highest possible level of execution in our business," Zelnick said.

The executive mentioned that there was an ongoing debate in the gaming industry a few years ago about whether or not single-player games would fall by the wayside as developers and publishers shifted their focus to multiplayer games which can often bring in more money, more regularly, through live services and microtransactions. But Zelnick said no one at Take-Two entertained that idea.

"There was, I think, there was an argument just a couple years ago, not around here, not in this shop, but in some of our competitors' offices, that single-player is dead, that it's all about multiplayer," he said. "We didn't believe that I said specifically and publicly that we didn't believe that, our labels don't believe that."

Thanks to Take-Two's diversification across studios, labels, and genres, the company is able to have fingers in many pies--and reap the benefits.

"We deliver an array of experiences that range from hyper casual mobile, to the most complex, the most robust, single-player and multiplayer experiences. And we intend to continue doing that," Zelnick said.

Rockstar was criticized by some in the GTA community for not bringing story expansions to GTA V as the developer did with GTA IV. Rockstar had said it was exploring story DLC for GTA V, but it never materialized, but the studio instead focusing on supporting GTA Online with frequent and substantial updates.

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