Back in the old days, before mobile gaming and its always-on connection was the hot ticket, people simply bought a game title and played it until it was ragged. But today we are finding more and more publishers are shifting to microtransactions for their revenue model. Now it appears that Take-Two, publisher of popular titles such as the infamous Grand Theft Auto gaming series, will incorporate it in all future releases.
According to CEO Strauss Zelnick, recurrent in-game spending provided over 42 percent of Take-Two’s earnings in the last quarter. Going forward, it will be even a bigger piece of its revenue model. As Zelnick explains,
We aim to have recurrent consumer spending opportunities for every title that we put out at this company. It may not always be an online model, it probably won’t always be a virtual currency model, but there will be some ability to engage in an ongoing basis with our titles after release across the board
This change in Take-Two’s business model is in line with other changes we have seen of late. The case for a title to be an ongoing revenue stream is a strong one, and it can be argued that this could be a way to keep players engaged for the life of a game while paying for new development. Zelnick sees this as the case for Take-Two as he says,
The business, once upon a time, was a big chunky opportunity to engage for tens of hours, or perhaps a hundred hours. That has turned into ongoing engagement. Day after day, week after week. You fall in love with these titles, and they become part of your daily life.
Now, with that description, it sounds like Take-Two would be better off with a regular subscription model. But perhaps their research shows that people were more apt to pay for loot boxes and other forms of microtransactions than they were to shell out for a paid subscription. This may make sense, especially if they take the model of a paid game up front with ongoing microtransactions.
The decision to embrace microtransactions by one of gaming’s most popular publishers would certainly seem to be a death knell to the previous gaming model, where you bought the title outright at the start. But when you consider that most large titles have offered paid downloadable content (DLC) for some time now, perhaps it is not that much of a change. One thing is certain – the days of simply buying a game to play without an ongoing cost to fully explore it are changing.