It would be easy for one to make the assumption that every publisher would push developers to release content annually. On the contrary, Take-Two believes that it is not healthy for developers to shove oversaturated content down the throats of consumers, pointing to the Call of Duty series as an example. Recent measures by the popular publisher have aimed to streamline production, allowing for the release of big-budget titles without sacrificing quality.
Take-Two has had trouble in the past keeping their developers on a definite production schedule, delaying games almost as often as competitor Valve. The Chairman of the venerated game publisher, Strauss Zelnick, spoke at the UBS Annual Global Media and Communications Conference and addressed the concerns of further delays:
We’ve said repeatedly execution needs to get better at the company. That means aspire to be on time and not have slippage. We aspire to be on a tighter schedule.
Mr. Zelnick was quick to point to the relatively steady lifecycle of newer franchises alongside the annual release of 2K sports titles:
I think we’ve certainly done a better job on bringing some titles out in a somewhat quicker lifecycle. For example, with BioShock 2, that came out in roughly two years and we’ve announced that BioShock Infinite is coming in calendar 2012.
When approached with the question of releasing titles annually, Mr. Zelnick retorted:
My belief is that even a very, very high quality, annualized franchise: runs the risk of burning customers out. ‘I’ve seen that five years in a row, I’ve had enough.’
This would explain why blockbuster games, such as Grand Theft Auto, are not released perennially. What is that? Does a company actually rank creative integrity over profit?
There would be great economic incentive to release Grand Theft Auto in chapters every year. In 2008, the fourth iteration in the series enjoyed record sales, six million copies in one, single week. Consider the fact that since this time the market for games such as Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption has grown, how many copies would Take-Two sell over vast periods of time then? To put it simply, more copies than one could think imaginable.
So, where does this leave the publisher? Are they at a loss? Mr. Zelnick related his point so that all could understand why a developer would suffer economically in order to turn out great content:
If we had to use a film analogy, we’d like to be James Bond. You may have to wait a few years in between, but you’ll always want to see it.
Do you think it is possible for a publisher such as Take-Two to compete with industry leaders while preserving creative integrity? Do you agree that games become “overdone” after a certain period of time? Let us know in the comments below.