Mafia III breaks sales records for Take-Two, but review scores “were lower than we would have liked”

Mafia III

Take-Two Interactive, the owners of Rockstar Games and 2K Games, held their quarterly earnings call yesterday. CEO Strauss Zelnick revealed that Mafia III has been a huge commercial success for his company, but expressed disappointment at its critical reception. 

What’s our verdict on Mafia III? Check out our review here.

It’s that magical time of year – one of the four, in fact – when the industry’s biggest players report their quarterly results. During an earnings call yesterday, Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick noted that Mafia III is selling very well, with combined digital sales and copies shipped to retailers totalling more than 4.5 million in its first week. Note that ‘shipped to retailers’ means only that, and not sold through to consumers, so the number of gamers who actually bought a copy of Mafia III in that week will be somewhat lower than that 4.5 million.

Regardless, this makes Mafia III the “fastest-selling title in 2K Games’s history”. Other 2K properties include Borderlands, BioShock, NBA 2K and PC favourites such as XCOM and Sid Meier’s Civilization.

And yet the commercial success isn’t enough to entirely take the sting out of the lacklustre critical response, it seems.

“In terms of the reviews and scores, sort of an odd anomaly,” says Zelnick. “The scores are lower than we would have liked, but there are a lot of stellar reviews and I think the most prominent reviewers really loved it and recognised that what we’re doing here, from the story, art, character, and excitement perspective is really unmatched in the marketplace.”

Zelnick concludes on a philosophical note. “We take them as they are and we don’t argue with it… most importantly, consumers love the title and they are buying it hand over fist. And that at the end of the day, that’s how we’re judged.”

Despite the critical drubbing – Mafia III’s PC version is currently rated a 62 on Metacritic – its commercial success is notable, given that it was a bit of a risk in some ways. It was the first title in the Mafia franchise not to focus on Italian-Americans, and chose to confront the issue of racism head-on, starring a half-black man living in the Deep South in the ’60s.

You can read Zelnick’s comments in full in this transcript of the earnings call, courtesy of Seeking Alpha. Did you play Mafia III? Does it deserve better than it’s got? Let us know in our community review.