Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
October 23, 2014
arrowPress Releases
October 23, 2014
PR Newswire
View All

If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:

Analyst:  Mafia II  Likely Unprofitable, Long Delays Aren't Helping Take-Two
Analyst: Mafia II Likely Unprofitable, Long Delays Aren't Helping Take-Two
August 30, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

August 30, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

Read Dead Redemption will help power Take-Two past revenue estimates when it reports its third fiscal quarter this week -- which is a good thing, says Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter, given the underperformance of Mafia II and the possible delays of two games.

Rockstar's critically-acclaimed open world Western is still selling strongly enough to cover for Mafia II's weakness -- which is significant, according to Pachter.

"Mafia II’s average Metacritic score of 74 is well below expectations, and consumer interest appears to be waning, as the game’s position has dropped in many best-seller lists in its first week," he says. "With six years in development, we believe the game is unlikely to achieve profitability."

A Metacritic score of 74 is considered "mixed or average"; Mafia II's user score on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, at 7.5 to 7.7, is a bit better, categorized by Metacritic as "generally favorable."

Take-Two's approach to development has always been to permit long development cycles, even title delays -- "We have a pretty stern policy at Take-Two about serving no wine before its time," CEO Ben Feder said once regarding the company's decision to twice hold back Mafia II and Red Dead Redemption from their planned release windows.

The company has credited Red Dead Redemption's commercial success in part to its patient cycle -- that title, too, saw delays before launch. But analysts have long suggested the company could benefit from more discipline surrounding release dates if it wants to show more consistent profitability outside of years containing main Grand Theft Auto launches.

"Game delays have become the norm at Take-Two, and we expect the company to announce a shift in release dates for LA Noire out of 2010 and into 2011," says Pachter -- noting that last quarter, the company also announced a delay, that time for Max Payne 3.

"It is important to note that both games have been in development for longer than five years, making their break-even hurdles significantly higher than a typical game," says Pachter. And he suggests it's not likely the company will yet announce a new GTA -- although he says one may still appear by holiday 2011.

"With longer development cycles, Take-Two has a profitability threshold higher than its peers," says the analyst. "We believe that the company must focus on streamlining its development process and providing better visibility on future game releases."

Related Jobs

Nexon America, Inc.
Nexon America, Inc. — El Segundo, California, United States

Localization Coordinator
Petroglyph Games
Petroglyph Games — Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

University of Texas at Dallas
University of Texas at Dallas — Richardson, Texas, United States

Assistant/Associate Prof of Game Studies — Hunt Valley, Maryland, United States

Lead UI Engineer


Mark Raymond
profile image
I think it's a sign of inefficiency, to be honest. RDR, though scoring highly, also shipped with some significant bugs – so significant, in fact, that some of them ended up being shown on YouTube. This does not speak of a polished product.

Jonathan Jennings
profile image
That is true Mark, I excitedly attended a midnight release to purchase the game and while the singleplayer experience was everything I hoped for ,the frequent random disconnects from the online lobbies was infuriating .

With that said I think it's understandable to some extent, Red dead redemption was a massive game with multiple complex elements incorporated into it. Invisible horses aren't so terrible to me when I can Ride up and down a full map with 7 other players .

Bryson Whiteman
profile image
Every game has bugs, dude. Especially games on the scale of Red Dead Redemption. I don't know how you can look at Red Dead Redemption and conclude that it's an unpolished product.

Lo Pan
profile image
It is true for larger projects like RDR and Mafia that bugs are going to be a fact of life. The publisher and developer need to focus on ensuring they are squashed in a timely manner.

Having worked for a Publisher on a couple $$$ games I can say that Publisher at some point in the development becomes beholden to developer and the game. So much money is dropped into the game that canceling it or giving it to another developer is out of the question. When that happens it is up to the developer to deliver the goods.

With Rockstar developers like ID, Rockstar, Infinity Ward (Vince days), Bioware, etc. the Publisher has VERY little stick to use to control costs and maintain the production schedule. Any publishing producer that attempts to keep firm control over a Rockstar developer will find himself unemployed.

Joseph Cook
profile image
As Michael Pachter happens to do in a regular, totally predictable basis, could he again be completely ignoring interest by PC gamers in this game?

Mafia II is a Steamworks game, which means that every person who legally purchased the game is represented in Steam statistics. As such, it's risen to the top in concurrent users, showing ~30,000 people playing it simultaneously throughout the entirety of the weekend, which could easily represent hundreds of thousands of sales on that platform alone if you do the math.

Mafia II obviously isn't going to be some behemoth blockbuster, but to comment on its profitability while completely ignoring the platform that made the original game a success, and the platform on which the game is receive the highest reviews, certainly isn't giving me much faith in his proclamation here.

Jose Resines
profile image
This is Pachter. What did you expect?

Nicolas Godement-Berline
profile image
To be fair to him, hundreds of thousands of sales on PC aren't going to significantly raise the profitability of a game that took 5 years to develop. A game like that needs to sell through several million units just to break even for the publisher.

Joseph Cook
profile image
It does help 2K though that every single PC sale generally results in more revenue, thanks to the lack of publisher fees and the availability for high-margin digital sales through Steam and otherwise.