Take-Two CEO Dubs Subscription Gaming a Business 'Holy Grail'

By Blake Ellison, Nov 14, 2008 12:48pm PST Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick has seen the future, and it is subscription-based gaming, a business model that the leader called the "Holy Grail."

"The Holy Grail is taking a business, already a very large and successful business that's focused on packaged goods that you sell once ... and turning that into a subscription business or a semi subscription business where we have an ongoing relationship with consumers," explained Zelnick at the BMO Capital Markets conference this week as noticed by Kotaku.

Zelnick was eager to indicate that the lucrative DLC trade is an intermediate step toward that business model. "Looking ahead, the biggest opportunity that we see for the industry as well as for us is downloadable content," the executive stated, offering paid downloads for Grand Theft Auto 4 and BioShock as solutions to the thriving used game trade.

There are limitations to the plan, Zelnick conceded. "The triple-A titles that people really want to have that are really must have are in the best position for this business model," he said. Further down the food chain, however, Zelnick believes that "you won't be able to apply a subscription model to mid-tier titles."

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22 Threads | 41 Comments

  • I worry that the gaming industry is going to start pursuing this model aggressively when I feel it's obviously going to fail. Publishers desire to have a library of subscription-based games is about as realistic and achievable as my desire to have a solid gold toilet.

    I can't see consumers having the stomach for more than a couple of monthly-subscription games at a time. And the fact is subscription-based games suck up huge amounts of gamer time, making us far less likely to buy other games. Moreover, the more we invest in a particular title the less responsive we will be to switching to another.

    Yes, all the publishers want their own WoW, but it just isn't going to happen.

  • Yea, but a LOT of people aren't willing to suscribe to games. And the market can only tolerate so many "monthly suscription" based games, especially the ones that suck up a lot of time. How many MMO players play more than 1 MMO (in the same month) for very long?

    DLC is smart, but hopefully it won't get to the point that it costs $50 for a game engine with 4 hours of gameplay and then have to pay $10 the next month for some DLC expansion that provides another 4 hours.

    I do like how Strongbad (on wiiware) is priced. It's somewhere around $10 or $15 for each episode. Each is standalone. No "base" price to get started.

    I think Rockband's dlc prices are fair. Meh. I could talk about this a long time. stopping.... now.

  • You won't be able to apply a subscription model for anything that isn't getting frequent, large, and
    interesting updates; people are not willing to pay for that. Single player games like Bioshock or The
    Witcher will find it very difficult to get this model going. That is why only MMO's have this idealogy. It takes
    a lot of development and time to make worthwhile game influencing updates. He has to remember that
    just being a triple A title doesn't mean you can charge for updates. And if I'm going to be paying for it, the
    DLC better be more than bug fixes or new areas in a game.