I think it’s safe to say that Red Dead/GTA publisher Take-Two Interactive isn’t the biggest fan of the annual franchise model.
Addressing a crowd of investors at a recent MKM Partners event, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick revealed why his company tends not to annualize its franchises, as the likes of Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty do.
While the idea of putting out a new Grand Theft Auto or Red Dead every year sounds great in theory (hell, I’d love an annual Zelda), Zelnick made the very reasonable argument that it’d both cost a shit ton, and lead to a drop in overall quality.
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. But what would it imply? It would imply doubling our development teams. It would imply calling into question our quality. And it would imply the risk that consumers tire of these franchises. 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.
Clearly, Zelnick’s ‘burning off’ makes reference here to the likes of Ubisoft and Activsion, who’s ‘churn ’em out’ approach to certain franchises really hasn’t served them that well of late.
Apparently, Take-Two – which spans Rockstar Games and 2K Games – eventually wants to be at the point where it has enough franchises that it can release different ones every year without burning off any one IP.
Zelnick went on to say that this has been the company’s goal since 2007, a time when – in Zelnick’s words – they were far too dependant on GTA.
Some of Take-Two’s biggest franchises include BioShock, Grand Theft Auto, WWE 2K, Borderlands, and Red Dead – I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing any one of those once a year.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.