Quality over quantity is a virtue more game publishers should take to heart. GTA V’s publisher, Take-Two Interactive, won’t be going down the same road many AAA companies have chosen to take recently in annualising their most popular franchises.
Often have we seen that annualising the release schedule of a given franchise led to a marked decrease in quality. An interesting case study would be the Assassin’s Creed franchise, which had got steadily decreasing review scores as the releases progressed. This culminated in the catastrophic release of Unity, being a horribly broken and poorly optimized mess.
Granted, all was forgiven after the smooth release of Syndicate, which was a pretty damn good game all-round, however the public only really regained their faith in Ubisoft after they announced that Assassin’s Creed will no longer be an annualised series.
Take-Two has it’s share of annualised franchises in the face of 2K’s sports titles, however the core franchises such as Borderlands or basically anything made by Rockstar will be spared. Take-Two would rather see the next GTA be a long-baked masterpiece than a rushed cash-cow.
Take-Two president Karl Slatoff recently discussed this topic at length during a business presentation . A pressing question regarding this issue is that of investors. The AAA industry relies on them heavily, and it was generally investor pressure which kicked off the annual release trend in the first place.
It’s tempting to have continuous releases and milk a franchise as far as you can, [but] we’ve seen that fatigue in other franchises in the games industry. With almost every single franchise for us, the latest release is bigger than the one before.
GTA V has proven that while annual released games with a big name to them can sell pretty well, it takes true quality and several years of development time to produce something that blows everything else out of the water in terms of revenue. GTA V continues to break sales records even years after initial release.
This doesn’t exactly mark a change in Take-Two’s strategy. Late last year Strauss Zelnick, the company’s CEO made a similar statement soon after a sales milestone was reached. It not only concerned the future of GTA Online, but the direction of the company as a whole.
The market asks us, ‘Why don’t you annualise your titles?’ We think with the non-sports titles, we are better served to create anticipation and demand. On the one hand to rest the title and on the other hand to have the highest quality in the market, which takes time. You can’t do that annually.
Take-Two also knows that they don’t need to saturate the market with constant releases to remain at the top. They have more than enough franchises under their wing to have a handful of releases without putting any franchise other than the sports games into an annual rotation.
Zelnick has also noted that Take-Two has managed to chalk up profits equal to that of a publisher with a fleet of annualised releases through other methods. These other methods obviously refer to GTA Online’s Shark Cards. A recent financial report proved that microtransactions in GTA Online are responsible for a significant amount of the company’s revenue.
Regardless, Take-Two does plan on releasing installments of certain franchises – don’t worry, GTA isn’t one of them. Borderlands and Bioshock will be seeing more frequent releases in the coming future. We might be hearing more about that and the future of GTA soon enough, as it has been confirmed that Take-Two will have a major presence at E3 this year.
Are you glad that future GTA games will have all the time they need to be polished, or would you prefer more frequent releases with less content?