Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two Interactive, was at the Cowen and Company’s 41st Annual Technology, Media and Telecom Conference today, where he discussed Grand Theft Auto V, used games on next-gen consoles, multiple protagonists, and Red Dead Redemption.
Starting with used games, Strauss addressed the issue of Microsoft possibly receiving a portion of used games by saying, “if Microsoft has figured out a way to tax used games, then we should get paid, too. It’s hard to imagine why they should and we shouldn’t.” Rather than “whining or figuring out ways to punish the consumer for buying used games,” Zelnick wants to increase the quality of each game. In addition, he suggests making sure “to give people DLC, often free, three or four weeks out; which is the time you’re at risk for them trading in their game,” with the first 8 weeks of used game sales being the ones “that really nail you.” Finishing up his viewpoint on used games, Strauss is “somewhat hopeful that the new consoles will help us participate in used game sales.”
As has been evidenced by the crazy numbers The Walking Dead TV show put up every single week, and countless other zombie success stories in recent years, the undead are big. On this topic, Strauss mentioned that the expansion packs for Red Dead Redemption were “immensely profitable” for Take-Two, with the Undead Nightmare pack being a big reason for that. He attributes this to Take-Two having “the presence of mind to add zombies to the title; and everyone always loves zombies.” In fact, the CEO would “like to do zombies in everything” because “they do sell.”
When Grand Theft Auto V releases worldwide on September 17th, Take-Two expects it to sell 18 million copies in just the first year, which will definitely add to the 125 million Grand Theft Auto games already shipped to date. One headlining feature with GTA V is that you’ll be able to switch between the three main characters Michael, Franklin, and Trevor. After saying he thinks GTA V “is going to redefine what an open-world game is and will be,” Strauss added “that you’re going to have to have multiple protagonists in video games going forward.”
To that effect, Zelnick noted that Take-Two knows how to do it “because we’re the first ones to do it” and “it’s going to be very, very difficult for our competitors to do this.” Taking that one step further, in Take-Two’s opinion, those competitors are “going to have to do it.” This was later clarified to mean other companies have to innovate, with three protagonists given as an example.
Finishing up his thoughts on the three main protagonists in Grand Theft Auto V, which he says “is going to be the first video game where you can shift seamlessly among three protagonists,” Strauss said that this mechanic “will actually drive the story forward,” because one character doesn’t need to convey all the emotional roles.
Looking at Grand Theft Auto as a franchise, it is the most important one for Take-Two. Strauss even mentions that it’s “arguably the most important brand in the industry. And one can even argue, and I’m certainly one to do that, that it’s among the most important entertainment brands across any type of entertainment worldwide.”
Finally, addressing the consumers, he said that “you’ve got to give [them] what they want; and what they care about is only the very highest quality intellectual property. A B-product simply isn’t going to sell. And even an A-product has to be highly competitive to sell.”
Do you think Grand Theft Auto V will do over or under 18 million year one? Let us know in the comments below.