GTA 5 and Red Dead publisher not interested in 'milking' franchises, says exec

Company president Karl Slatoff: "We've seen that fatigue in other franchises."

GameSpot staff
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GameSpot staff
2 min read

Grand Theft Auto 5 and Red Dead Redemption publisher Take-Two Interactive has discussed why it doesn't release its non-sports titles annually, saying it is weary of product fatigue that can result from "milking" a property.

During a business presentation held in New York on Tuesday, company president Karl Slatoff was asked about the business reasons behind not annualising its most popular brands, specifically if that was a challenge in terms of keeping investors interested in franchises that go quiet.

"Yes, it is a challenge," he replied, before going on to state Take-Two still has no intention of annualising its franchises. According to Slatoff, the publisher's reasoning is to avoid franchise fatigue by managing releases more strictly. This, in turn, makes a brand viable for longer than one that is released yearly.

"We don't intend to change annual strategy because of product fatigue. [Take-Two] creates franchise value and [releases have] to be managed deliberately," he added.

"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."

Take-Two's chief executive, Strauss Zelnick, echoed similar sentiments in November 2015, when he said annualisation can lead to the erosion in the value of a brand.

He said at the time: "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."

Zelnick added that the company can still generate the kind of revenue that annualisation would provide through alternative methods.

"What we would like to do is be able to have enough hit intellectual properties in any given year, whether we have Title A or Title B, is not the issue," he said. "We'll have a handful of really great franchises and new intellectual properties that together really have the economic impact of an annualised business without the detriments of an annualised business."

Looking forward, Zelnick indicated that some of Take-Two's franchises would be released on a more regular rotation, though not necessarily on a yearly schedule. He noted that BioShock and Borderlands franchises are already on this path.

Titles from its Rockstar Games division such as Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne, however, are unlikely to have a set schedule.