Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick explains why big name game franchises like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption aren’t annual titles despite their popularity.
As of August 2015, Grand Theft Auto 5 has sold over 54 million copies, with Rockstar Games’ West Coast-based sandbox proving to be phenomenally popular with gamers on all platforms. Meanwhile, the developer’s Wild West adventure Red Dead Redemption may have been released over five and a half years ago (and only on two platforms; PS3 and Xbox 360) but the game is still a serious seller, and at last count Red Dead had shipped 14 million copies. But, while most publishers would see this success as a reason to release sequels and new games every year, Rockstar isn’t convinced that annualizing them is a good idea.
Take-Two (Rockstar’s parent company) CEO Strauss Zelnick made this much clear during the MKM Partners Investor Day earlier this week. During the New York City-based event Zelnick told attendees that although the market asks “why don’t you annualize your titles?”, Take-Two feels that “with the non-sports titles, we are better served to create anticipation and demand”. Zelnick explains that this is to “rest the title and on the other hand to have the highest quality in the market, which takes time”, but “you can’t do that annually,” says the CEO.
Instead, the company hopes to have enough “hit intellectual properties” along with “a handful of really great franchises and new intellectual properties that together really have the economic impact of an annualized business without the detriments of an annualized business”. Take-Two will also have a regular rotation of its key franchises with Zelnick citing franchises like Borderlands and BioShock as prime examples, something that fans will be glad to hear given that a new Borderlands game is in development and the BioShock series has been in stasis since Irrational Games laid off many of its employees and shut down.
Meanwhile, GTA and Red Dead won’t follow set schedules due to their lengthy development times, though Zelnick called them both “permanent” franchises, which is good news for those hoping for Red Dead Redemption 2.
Understandably, fans will be disheartened to know that they won’t get regular installments of Rockstar’s biggest brands, but Zelnick’s comments do make sense from both a business and a consumer standpoint. Take-Two doesn’t want to rush Rockstar and release broken games like Assassin’s Creed Unity and other recent titles and the company also doesn’t want to risk overwhelming fans with releases and risk saturating the market, after all, this is cited as a reason why Call of Duty‘s sales have been in decline. Instead fans will have to wait it out and bide their time until Rockstar’s next “massive consumer event”, as Zelnick calls them.