During its second quarter earnings call on Thursday, the publisher was asked to give its view on using free-to-play experiences to grow the reach of its properties.
“Well, look, we’re pretty open minded and at the same time we deliver the highest quality experiences in the business and we charge much less for them than we believe they’re worth to consumers,” Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said. “And then we deliver typically an ongoing component that is free, and that’s already a great deal of value.”
Zelnick also noted that Take-Two has at times promoted its games very cheaply or free, such as when it gave away Grand Theft Auto V through the Epic Games Store.
“And of course, Rockstar has announced that GTA Online will be a standalone experience for next-gen, coming in the second half of 2021, and that it will be free for PS5 users for about three months,” Zelnick said. “So, as you can see, we’re open-minded about our business model, and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that at some point, certain experiences can become free as a matter of the entry point.
“I like what I consider sort of tethered free-to-play, where 100% of people acknowledge the value of the title and pay to play it, and on an ongoing basis you have what is effectively a free-to-play experience attached that can go on for many years. Grand Theft Auto Online of course has been successful for seven years and is expected to set a new record in this fiscal year, amazingly enough.”
In February 2020, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said mobile was the publisher’s “largest” platform and that the company was working on mobile games based on all its top franchises. Over the past year it has enjoyed massive success with Call of Duty Mobile, which has been downloaded over 300 million times since its October 2019 release.
Given the success other publishers have had in bringing their console franchises to mobile (Activision wasn’t namechecked), Zelnick was asked whether Take-Two had similar ambitions for its “big IP”.
Zelnick said Take-Two “wouldn’t rule out the possibility of making a standalone mobile title” based on its owned intellectual property, but that any such move would need to be “driven by the label’s creative desire to do so and the belief that we could do an extraordinary job at it”.
However, he added: “It is not lost on us that the biggest hits in the mobile business are native to the mobile business, they’re not based on licensed IP, they’re not based on console IP, the biggest hits are native to the business.”
Elsewhere on its earnings call, Zelnick provided updated shipment figures for some of the company’s key franchises.
NBA 2K21 has shipped over five million units since its September 4 release, with next-gen versions set to launch next week. GTA V has shipped 135 million copies and Red Dead Redemption 2 has shipped 34 million units.
Take-Two is currently holding discussions with Dirt and F1 publisher Codemasters about a potential takeover of the UK-based company.