Take-Two Plays the Waiting Game
A look back at games published by Take-Two since 2009 reveal the firm is terrible at shipping marquee, non-sports titles on schedule; future games troubled, too.
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Last week, Take-Two Interactive delayed Irrational Games' upcoming shooter BioShock Infinite to 2013. And tomorrow, the long-awaited Max Payne 3 finally hits retail after being officially delayed five times. These two events got us thinking about Take-Two and its (in)ability to ship marquee, non-sports titles on time. With this in mind, we looked at the publisher's major non-sports releases for the past three years and counted up the number of times they were delayed.
Of nine major titles shipped since the beginning of 2009, Take-Two only managed to ship one of them within its originally announced release window. The rest were delayed at least once, with the average number of delays per Take-Two title coming in at 1.44. Civilization V was the outlier on Take-Two's resume, as that game was announced in February 2010, and made it out in September of that year, right on schedule.
Ed. Note: While Duke Nukem Forever was in development for over 10 years, and was drilled by a heaping handful of delays, Take-Two was only responsible for pushing back the game's release window one time. Thus, only one delay was factored into the average delay equation above.
Looking to the future, of seven announced and scheduled Take-Two titles, four have thus far been delayed: BioShock Infinite (once), the XCOM shooter (twice), Spec Ops: The Line (three times) and the aforementioned Max Payne 3. The average number of delays for Take-Two's current slate of announced games is 1.57, and that number may still climb.
Clearly, Take-Two has serious trouble shipping big-name, non-sports titles on time. But that might be to the company's advantage. Shigeru Miyamoto once famously quipped, "A delayed game is eventually good. A bad game is bad forever." Miyamoto justified delays with quality, and Take-Two attempts to do the same. Only The Darkness 2 and Duke Nukem Forever scored lower than an 8.5 on GameSpot, with four titles scoring a 9.0 or higher. Red Dead Redemption (9.5) even took home our 2010 Game of the Year accolade.
It's tough to say if these delays proved ultimately worthy for Take-Two, but it's difficult to argue with numbers. While the publisher hasn't given clear sales data for all of the games, sales of Read Dead Redemption (13 million) and LA Noire (5 million) alone would make the average sales for the nine games stand at 2 million, even if BioShock 2, Borderlands, and the rest of the delayed titles never sold a single copy.
Looking ahead, there's one major Take-Two property likely to be as big as anything included here: Grand Theft Auto V. This game was announced back in October, and no release date has been affixed to the project to date. But if history holds true, don't be surprised if the day comes and goes with no new GTA to be found on store shelves. Of course, if history holds true, it might also be a game well worth the wait.
We reached out to Take-Two for comment for this feature, but did not hear back. If the company does issue a statement, an update will be posted here.