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Take-Two CEO: Annual release schedules 'burn off' game franchises

Take-Two CEO: Annual release schedules 'burn off' game franchises

November 17, 2016 | By Alex Wawro




"Our competitors burn off their franchises, which means they have to create new ones, which is incredibly difficult to do."

- Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick.

For the most part, the big-budget game industry has fallen into a pattern of releasing games in popular series on an annual basis. Call of DutyBattlefield and (until this year) Assassin's Creed are all notable examples.

One notable exception are the non-sports game franchises under the aegis of Take-Two Interactive, the biggest of which -- Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series -- often goes years without a new entry. In a recent presentation to MKM Partners, Take-Two chief Strauss Zelnick talked up this business strategy and suggested that while "annualizing" Take-Two game releases might help the company in the short term, it would be harmful to its development process.

"I suppose, conceptually, if we took all [of our franchises] and we just turned it into an annualized schedule--leaving everything else to the side--the math says you would be in a better place," he said, according to GameSpot. "But what would it imply? It would imply doubling our development teams. It would imply calling into question our quality. And it would imply the risk that consumers tire of these franchises."

"One of the things that's best about Take-Two is our franchises seem to be permanent," Zelnick continued. "They're beloved and permanent. Whereas our competitors burn off their franchises, which means they have to create new ones, which is incredibly difficult to do."

Zelnick has been beating this drum for some time, of course -- in 2012 he told Gamasutra he wasn't interested in annualizing non-sports game for fear of "burning out the consumer." It's interesting to see him continue to tout this strategy, and the fact that Ubisoft will not release an Assassin's Creed game this year for the first time in nearly a decade suggests other big game companies may be sympathetic to his viewpoint.



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