China, esports, and a triple-A title per year – Take-Two outline their plans for the future

Take Two Interactive GTA 5 has now sold over 80 million copies Rockstar North

Take-Two have had a quiet year in terms of new releases. Of course, they have Rockstar beavering away on constant content for GTA Online, but the delay of Red Dead Redemption 2 has left a gaping hole where some games should probably be.

Keep an eye on our upcoming PC games list for more future hits. 

In 2016, Take-Two had an incredible year for new releases, featuring games such as Mafia 3, Civilization 6, and, erm, Battleborn – it looked like their schedule couldn’t be healthier. So what are Take-Two going to do to keep things ticking over in future? Well, their focus is in four main areas: a new triple-A game each year, mobile games, esports, and cracking the Chinese market.

“We had a really good schedule and we began to feel like we were delivering on the promise when we said: ‘We emphatically don’t believe in annualising titles except for sports titles. We want to build a big enough stable of IP so that each season we have a great group of releases’,” Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick tells GIBiz.

“2K had a really good season this past year, but it was, for the company, still relatively thin. And it didn’t help that Battleborn wasn’t a big success. So part of it is the level of success, part of it is the schedule, and part of it is finding the human resources to actually take the intellectual property that we own and bring them to market. Those are an array of challenges, juxtaposed against the uncertainty of how long it takes to make a AAA title, which means we can find ourselves in fiscal 2018 with a much thinner schedule than we’d like.”

Fiscal 2019 is looking much healthier. There’s going to be a “huge new title from 2K” – Borderlands 3, at a guess – and there’s Red Dead 2, both of which will likely be massive.

While I wouldn’t expect Rockstar to start pumping out games annually, especially now they have GTA Online to keep fresh, 2K plan to increase their output significantly. “I don’t think there’s radical changes in the strategy,” 2K president David Ismailer explains. “Ideally, we will have one triple-A title every single year.”

Elsewhere, though, they would like to break into esports and also the Chinese market. Battleborn was a clear attempt at making a new esport, but that failed. Perhaps 2K’s stable of sports titles would be better suited. As Take-Two say, time will tell. “The launch of the professional competitive gaming league with the NBA is intended to be a meaningful venture, and we will see if it is or not, but it is intended to have sponsorship revenue, advertising revenue, media rights revenue, event revenue through beverage, merchandise, and the like,” Zelnick says.

As for the goal of breaking into Asia, Take-Two are hoping Tencent make it easier for them to break into the Chinese market. Traditionally, it’s been hard for them to get games released in that territory because of government approval. With Tencent launching a platform similar to Steam, Take-Two are hoping it makes the process a bit more painless.