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Take-Two CEO says competitors 'burn off their franchises by annualizing them'

You may want a new Grand Theft Auto every year, but giving development studios time to percolate maintains their quality.


Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick explained why their studios like Rockstar steer clear of annualizing all of its franchises.

"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," Zelnick admitted to investors at an MKM Partners event (via GameSpot).

However, those additional sales would come with a number of negative trade-offs, he continued—namely ballooning development teams, a lower bar of quality due to having to perpetually rush to meet a yearly delivery schedule, and declining interest from consumers.

"One of the things that's best about Take-Two is our franchises seem to be permanent. 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."

Passing on annualization hasn't hurt Take-Two. Just the opposite: according to Zelnick, Take-Two's Rockstar Games and 2K labels account for 11 franchises wherein individual game releases sell over five million copies apiece.

On top of that, 54 of Take-Two's properties have sold over two million units each—a figure that Zelnick told investors is "second to none in the business."

Ultimately, Zelnick and his partners at Take-Two want to get the company to a point where consumers can expect yearly releases from at least one of its franchises. That satisfies financial demands while simultaneously giving makers of big-ticket properties like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead breathing room between their respective releases.

Case in point: Take-Two and Rockstar recently revealed Red Dead Redemption 2 back in October. Assuming the sequel stays on course for a 2017 release, it will follow the original game seven years after its publication.

"We can have a really powerful release schedule without burning off the IP and that's our goal," Zelnick explained.

Some of the properties under the auspices of Take-Two include BioShock, WWE 2K, NBA 2K, Borderlands, and Civilizations.

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at and @davidlcraddock.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 17, 2016 12:51 PM

    David Craddock posted a new article, Take-Two CEO says competitors 'burn off their franchises by annualizing them'

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      November 17, 2016 1:16 PM


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        November 17, 2016 1:24 PM

        Ehh, sports games are kind of a special case. By their nature they're mostly about making the same game with updated player rosters and maybe updated graphics.

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          November 17, 2016 2:06 PM

          Yeah. This should go without saying. It's also about creating a buffer: NBA 2K and WWE 2K, for instance, are bankable properties that help fill 2K's coffers to both continue creating entries in those franchises and hold over Take-Two as a whole while developers under T2's umbrella (e.g., Rockstar) work on their games.

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      November 17, 2016 1:23 PM

      Truth. It induces burnout for fans, and slipshod development from the company.

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      November 17, 2016 3:19 PM

      I agree with that sentiment. You don't really get any big leaps it all gets incremental to the point of burnout.

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      November 18, 2016 6:40 AM


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