Analyst Michael Pachter believes that Mafia II will lose money because it was in development for way too long.
Delaying a game to make it better is a good practice for gamers, but it might not be all that great for publishers. After analysts recently criticized Take-Two for another believed delay to L.A. Noire, Wedbush Morgan Securities' Michael Pachter is taking a shot at the company for what he sees as a failure with Mafia II.
Mafia II was in development for a reported six years, and has a Metacritic score in the mid-70s. As much as we hate games being based on review scores alone, Pachter confirms that they likely have a strong affect. He says: "Mafia II's average Metacritic score of 74 is well below expectations, and consumer interest appears to be waning, as the game's position has dropped in many best-seller lists in its first week. With six years in development, we believe the game is unlikely to achieve profitability."
Take-Two is known for delaying its titles for quality issues, and this turned out to be a great idea with strong seller Red Dead Redemption. Still, analysts such as Pachter say that a game can't just be great, it has to make a profit too. Pachter points out that "game delays have become the norm at Take-Two," and he also expects L.A. Noire to be delayed and checks off Max Payne 3 as another problem title.
If these two games also receive a less-than positive reception, they could drag Take-Two into the depths of unprofitability. "It is important to note that both games have been in development for longer than five years, making their break-even hurdles significantly higher than a typical game," Pachter says. "We believe that the company must focus on streamlining its development process and providing better visibility on future game releases."
The company still has the Grand Theft Auto card to play, but Pachter doesn't expect a new GTA to show up until holiday 2011 at the earliest. Maybe Take-Two knows what it's doing, and maybe it doesn't, but the constant delays are surely annoying lots of investors.