Zelnick unimpressed by Asian free-to-play market

Zelnick unimpressed by Asian free-to-play market
Seth Tipps

By Seth Tipps

December 4th 2013 at 8:36AM

Xbox One, PS4 to overtake previous generation in five years, says Take-Two CEO

Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick still isn't convinced of the virtues of the growing Asian free-to-play market, arguing that there simply isn't a high enough proportion of players paying for content.

His remarks came before a group of investors at the Credit Suisse 2013 Technology Conference in Scottsdale Arizona, attended by GamesIndustry International.

"I'm not psyched about a business where three percent of your customers pay you, which is what you're dealing with," said Zelnick.

"But we're flexible. If that's the way the business evolves, as long as we can get paid and make a profit doing it, we're happy to contemplate it. I'm skeptical that for very high-end products, that's the way the business goes. I think you'll continue to sell those high-end products as the entry point, and then you'll have in-game monetization for certain sold items and free items."

While this is certainly not a strong endorsement, Take-Two is exploring the free-to-play market in Asia, but Zelnick's comments make it sound like it will be some time before a major foray into the new sector.

This jibes with his other comments at the event, where he spoke confidently of the success of next generation consoles, and that Take-Two plans to stay true to its former emphasis on triple-A titles while maintaining an “ecumenical” approach to platforms and business models.

“Our DNA remains these very high end, triple-A, immensely immersive experiences, and I don't really see us deviating from that," Zelnick explained.

Considering the strong sales of next generation consoles over the past month, it makes a lot of sense to try and target what is obviously still a very popular platform for games.

Zelnick suggested that the record-breaking sales of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are due to a newfound consumer interest in hardware, and agreed with an investor who asked if he thought the new machines would have a larger install base than the current generation in five years.

"I'd specifically say yes because it appears that - and this is largely anecdotal but tablets are a good example - all these new iterations of more and more exciting hardware seem to have picked up in velocity generationally compared to five or ten years ago," he said.

"But if we had a big market meltdown, for example, a repeat of '08 and '09 in three years, or two years, or two minutes, that would influence it. But if this economy stays on this track, yeah, I feel good about it."