The publisher is doing well. Just how well?
After THQ’s collapse last year, industry focus shifted to the survivability of mid-size publishers. THQ’s franchises had shown promise–Saints Row: The Third alone shipped four million copies–but the firm could not survive an uncertain economic environment and questionable management tactics. Take-Two was one of those names subtly mentioned as next to fall, even going so far as to consider a potential takeover deal from Electronic Arts. But in retrospect such a deal would be seen as foolish: with terrific sales and an established portfolio, Take-Two is soaring into another generation.
The turnaround has been quick. In the first quarter last year, Take-Two had a loss of $79 million, whereas this year the company reported $22.5 million in earnings. The profit comes from several high-profile titles from 2012–Borderlands 2 and XCOM: Enemy Unknown among them. That profit margin should increase too, with the rebranded The Bureau: XCOM Declassified and enormously popular Grand Theft Auto V coming later this year.
2K-produced Borderlands 2 was an understated success, reeling in six million units shipped and on track to become 2K’s most sold game ever. That eclipses Gearbox’s continued support, adding more Vault Hunters and a possible second season of downloadable content. Even more of a critical success, BioShock Infinite has managed 3.7 million copies shipped in two months, accruing “significantly higher first month sell-through than any other BioShock release”, as quoted from Take-Two’s 2013 fiscal year report.
But the behemoth of them all, Grand Theft Auto V, shipping this September, Take-Two expects will bring in $1.1 billion. One analyst suspects sales of 18 million. Supposedly all-knowing Michael Pachter projects a count as high as 25 million. The numbers vary but they are still expectedly gargantuan.
On May 1, Take-Two elected Karl Slatoff as its first president. As noted by GameSpot, he had been COO from 2010 and before that executive vice president in 2008, capping a business career that started in the music business. Before two weeks ago, Take-Two had no official position of president; just the usual collection of fancy business initialisms. In speaking with GameSpot, the company said his promotion was “a natural progression”. However, the move could be seen as preparation or a contingency plan should the company fall on hard times again.
Alternatively, Take-Two could be prepping for a hugely beneficial upcoming year. With Take-Two having a limited role at E3 in June, bringing in a business mind to help make Grand Theft Auto V competitive (if it even needs a marketing push) would work to counteract the outpouring of information from the world’s largest gaming event. As well, now that Borderlands is a guaranteed seller and BioShock is back in the public conscious, new guidance isn’t always terrible.
Regardless of Take-Two’s plans, or its role in the industry, there is one definite thing here: an advertising onslaught featuring Grand Theft Auto V at its center. Absurdly, the game has to battle a new set of consoles too. TV commercials and decadent billboards lacing city skylines will be a thing to discuss.
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