“We’re not on a weekly cadence and we’re not going to be,” says Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick.
Cyberpunk 2077’s launch in December of last year was a major event, but as it turned out, it was major for all the wrong reasons. One of the most highly anticipated video game releases in years, the game received widespread backlash at launch, with its poor technical state – especially on consoles – being slammed in all corners.
Cyberpunk’s botched launch has sparked a lot of conversations about rushed video game releases, which is particularly ironic, considering the many years the game was in the works in some form or another, and how many times it was delayed in the lead-up to launch. Recently, speaking during Take-Two Interactive’s quarterly investors call, CEO Strauss Zelnick weighed in on the topic as well.
Under Take-Two’s ownership, Rockstar Games have consistently released massive open world games with impeccable levels of technical polish, most recently with Red Dead Redemption 2, while other Take-Two labels have also have also generally maintained impressive levels of polish. Zelnick says that that’s something that Take-Two makes a key part of its approach, and that the company chooses to “wait for perfection” than rush video game releases in efforts to stick to planned launched dates.
“We’re having the most self-critical group I’ve ever run into,” said Zelnick. “How do we maintain our commitment to quality, by making sure that are our accretive creative teams pursue what they’re passionate about and don’t pursue something they’re not passionate about. And by maintaining operational and financial discipline at the same time. And the effect of that is we can have long development cycles, and we’ve been criticized for that.
“But I think the case that you’re alluding to reflects the fact that you’re always better served to wait for perfection if you can create perfection and all of our labels are seeking perfection, and we don’t always succeed. Sometimes we fall short but that’s the goal. And if anything these times causes us to sharpen our minds further and sharpen our discipline further and try harder. So yeah, I mean it’s great that Rockstar Games continues to put out add-on content and additional content for Grand Theft Auto Online and for Red Dead Online.
“But they put out material that they really believe in, that they’re passionate about and that is of the highest possible quality. And that means we’re not on a weekly cadence and we’re not going to be. It means we don’t necessarily know the exact release date. But what we do know is that we will wait for it to be as close to perfect as anything can be and that’s true with 2K, and that’s true with Social Point, and that’s true of Private Division.
“And that’s an unwavering commitment and it’s part of our strategy and it comes from the top of the company. And we are prepared to accept the results when we fall short in terms of timing or when we sometimes spend a little more than we would like because it always pays off.”
The level of polish Take-Two’s games – especially Rockstar’s games – maintain on a consistent basis is undeniable and has been impressive to see, and there’s little doubt that that’s the level that most in the industry are aspiring to. Of course, the other side of the coin is the excessive crunch that calls for during development, which doesn’t seem like a good tradeoff. Reports have suggested that Rockstar is taking steps to minimize crunch, so here’s hoping that pays off, and that the developer can maintain a good level of polish under better working conditions.