Grand Theft Auto Publisher Won’t Milk Rockstar’s Franchises

Take-Two wants to avoid franchise fatigue and believes annual releases make game brands less viable in the long run.

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Take-Two Interactive, the publisher of Grand Theft Auto 5 and Red Dead Redemption, has discussed its reasoning for not pursuing an annual release schedule for its non-sports franchises.

GameSpot reports that company president Karl Slatoff told a business presentation in New York today that that company is wary of the product fatigue which can be associated with “milking” an IP. Asked about the challenge of keeping investors interested in game series that can have long gaps between new releases, Slatoff admitted that, “Yes, it is a challenge.”

He noted, however, that Take-Two is still uninterested in annualising its franchises. Slatoff says that by spreading out new game releases, the company avoids franchise fatigue which in turn helps make a series more viable over a longer term than one that releases annually.

“We don’t intend to change annual strategy because of product fatigue. [Take-Two] creates franchise value and [releases have] to be managed deliberately,” Slatoff continued.

“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.”

Slatoff’s comments echo those of CEO Strauss Zelnick from November of last year when he noted that annualising a game franchise can erode a brand’s value.

“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,” Zelnick explained at the time. “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 games such as Borderlands and BioShock will be released more frequently in future but not necessarily annually.

Rockstar Games franchises such as Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and Max Payne are unlikely to move to a regular schedule, however. Rockstar’s last game, Grand Theft Auto 5, has shipped over 60 million copies to date.