Take-Two Interactive chief executive officer Strauss Zelnick wants two things: to increase and diversify the output of the publisher’s games, and to undo the collar button on his shirts. He’s already succeeded at the latter, and he has his company working on the former.
Zelnick spoke about boosting Take-Two’s production during a fireside chat at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference in San Francisco today. The executive reiterated the company’s pledge to make a significant investment in its pipeline. It wants to produce new and more diverse games through the next generation of consoles.
“We’ve said that we’re making the biggest investment we’ve ever made in our pipeline, and that will be expressed in the next five years,” said Zelnick. “We’ve also said that our goal year-in-year-out is to not only have this basis of a great catalog, great annual releases, and great live games, but also to add new frontline releases every year.”
When Zelnick says “frontline releases” he means new games beyond expansions for GTA V. This doesn’t necessarily mean new intellectual properties — although that is part of the publisher’s strategy. But it also means bringing back franchises like BioShock.
“We’re investing more and more so we will get to a point where we will pretty reliably have a great front-line release schedule in addition to our catalog, our live-ops, and our annualized releases,” said Zelnick.
Take-Two looks to mobile and indie to expand its pipeline
Take-Two is also looking beyond blockbuster-scale games.
“We are focused on building up our mobile business where we are still a relatively small player,” said Zelnick. “We’re doing that with [mobile publishing label] Social Point, which has five successful games up from two.”
Zelnick pointed to WWE Supercard as an example of what he wants from mobile. That free-to-play card-collecting battler has had more than 20 million downloads.
On the indie side of things, Zelnick emphasized Take-Two’s Private Division label. That is an independent publishing operation that is working with smaller creators to help with distribution and funding. The company is already doing that with the space-flight simulator Kerbal Space Program. But it’s also working with studios that retain their ownership rights like Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds.
Zelnick says that Private Division can also deliver the kind of diversity that Take-Two wants going forward. And that can fill in the gap between now and when the publisher is ready to ship more games.