The success of “Grand Theft Auto V” and the ability its online component seems to have to keep making money came as a surprise to everyone at publisher Take-Two Interactive, but it hasn’t changed the way the company does business, CEO Strauss Zelnick tells Variety.
“We’ve already said we intend to deliver the opportunity people to stay engaged with games after release,” he said. “That could be through multiplayer, it could be through in-game engagement with in-game purchases.”
But that doesn’t mean every game moving forward from Take-Two needs to be online. And, Zelnick was clear to point out just how mindful he and the company are about perception of monetization and game pricing.
“Customer service isn’t just about the experience, it encompasses the check at the end of the day too,” he said. “You can have a great meal and get charged triple what you expect and then you didn’t have a good experience. You could go to Chipotle and given what it costs and what it is, you can have a great experience. Customer experience is beginning to end, including what you pay for that experience.
“But we can’t give away our product for free. We are creating amazing art and need to make sure our shareholders get a return on their investment.”
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That means the company tries to stay focused on its core business, which Zelnick said remains interactive entertainment, while also testing the waters on other avenues. For instance, the company has worked with studios in the past to make movies with their properties.
Zelnick said that they are still working with Lionsgate on a “Borderlands” movie, but are very selective about which games they go down that path with.
While the company does innovate, it tries to be careful about chasing what could end up being video gaming fads.
When I asked what he thought the three most important things coming to the game industry are, he paused to think of an answer, but first noted that if they were “Take-Two’s” innovations, he wouldn’t talk about them publicly.
His off-the-cuff response was that game streaming — which both EA and Microsoft are already pursuing publicly, could greatly enhance the size of the gaming market. Next, he mentioned that improved technology would continue to blur the line between live-action and computer-generated graphics. “Video games that look like live-action would be tremendous and we’ll get there.”
Finally, he said, the further expansion of esports beyond the tremendous successes of games like “League of Legends.”