Made up of a half-dozen studios responsible for games like “BioShock 2,” “Civilization,” and “Mafia III,” 2K Games is looking to grow significantly by 2023, 2K president David Ismailer told Variety.
“Our aspiration is to double our size in five years,” he said. And they seem to be in a position to do that.
Parent company Take-Two Interactive is the publisher behind “Grand Theft Auto V,” which sold about 95 million copies and continues to bring in a steady stream of cash four years after its release. Take-Two has been slowly investing some of that cash in acquisitions. Last year, they company snagged “Kerbal Space Program,” and then launched a new publishing label, Private Division. The company also founded Ghost Story Games last year.
Ismailer said Take-Two has put a lot of trust in 2K to grow and expand its portfolio and that the company is looking to 2K to essentially, wisely invest some of its profits. With that in mind, Ismailer said 2K has three priorities right now: grow its portfolio, create more content, and find a way to keep the gamers the company attracts inside its games.
“I think of games as an amusement park,” Ismailer said. “The more rides there are, the more people come and the longer they stay.”
He added that when he took over leadership of 2K last year, his focus became to empower studios through more resources, a better infrastructure, and creative freedom to publish their games. More games could mean tapping into the company’s many untouched IP, creating entirely new games, or expanding on games that have already seen some success.
“We have our eyes on a lot of things,” he said.
Take-Two’s appearance on the E3 showfloor this year is an accidental metaphor for the current state of the company. The booth was massive, decked out to look like a standing, luxurious office with a glassed in waiting room, massive video screens to recreate a view of the beach through faux windows and the sky, complete with a sunset and the occasional birds. But the company had no games to show at E3, at least not in its elaborate booth. It was an infrastructure in need of more content.
The booth did have another, more sensible purpose though: as a place to host meetings with potential developers, partners, perhaps even acquisition targets.
While 2K is absolutely in need of more games to put under development, Ismailer said they don’t want to force any of their existing studios, like “Civilization” and “XCOM” creator Firaxis, to do something they’re not interested in.
“Whatever they are passionate about doing” is what Firaxis will work on next, he said. “We can’t guide the creatives to do something. It’s really difficult to manage very large teams. It’s even more difficult if they’re not passionate about the project they are working on.”
Ismailer also declined to say what Hangar 13, the relatively new studio that developed “Mafia III” in 2016, is working on other than to say that it’s something “incredibly exciting” and that it is an entirely new IP.
“They did ‘Mafia III’ and we were very happy with the results and then they moved on to some other project,” he said.
Take-Two Chairman and CEO Strauss Zelnick essentially said the same thing to Variety during E3.
“We are generally focused on encouraging our creative teams to pursue their passions and make the extraordinary art that they can make today in the form of video games,” he said.
Ismailer said his team is looking at all kinds of “quality content.”
“We are open for business,” he said. “We are looking to grow and we look at a lot of pitches per year.”