Take Two CEO Strauss Zelnick reckons yearly-release schedules and subscription based services like Call of Duty Elite aren’t sustainable.
Talking at the UBS Media and Communications Conference; Zelnick didn’t specifiy exactly which franchises he was criticising. He had, however, just finished discussing a certain Activision franchise – Hint: it rhymes with ‘mall of booty’ – which just so happens to have a yearly release schedule. Take from that what you will.
“If you start trying to stamp these products out annually, we don’t think that’s consistent with a high-quality result,” he said. “If you give consumers something every year like clockwork, even if it’s fantastic, there’s a high chance they’re going to get tired of it.”
I’m assuming 2K Sports, which has been pumping out yearly sports titles like nobody’s business since Take Two acquired them from Sega back in 2005, is exempt from this criticism. Rockstar, Take Two’s other major developer, is relatively frugal when it comes to sequels, however.
Zelnick also questioned the viability of subscription based services; specifically mentioning Activision’s absurdly successful Call of Duty Elite program.
“I can’t tell whether it’s relevant yet. I’m kind of skeptical, frankly,” he said. “I suspect that we want a different experience on our big screen than we do on our middle-sized screen than we do on our mobile screen, because I think we use them at different times and they mean different things. I do think an intellectual property can thread through, but only if it is really high quality.”
Gamestop sold around 600 thousand Call of Duty Elite Premium subscriptions in the first week of release, and that’s only a small fraction of total sales. The service proved so popular that registrations had to be closed after scores of users looking to sign up crashed the servers.
“Right now, it’s an option,” said Activision’s Jamie Berger while talking about developers implementing services like Elite; and presumably fanning himself with a wad of cash. “In three to five years, it won’t be.”