During Take-Two’s quarterly results conference call, the publisher talked about the performance of Battleborn, and the balance between new IP and sequels of established franchises.
CEO Strauss Strauss Zelnick acknowledged that while Battleborn launched to positive reviews, its performance in the market was below expectations. That said, he mentioned that there are still opportunities to grow the audience over time, and 2K intends to continue driving engagement via add-on content and virtual currency.
Later in the call, Zelnick was asked about the balance between new IP and sequels, mentioning that the company has launched a new IP nearly every year since 2007, and that’s why they have titles like Red Dead, Borderlands and BioShock. It’s tempting to rest on their laurels, since the company has eleven franchises that have sold over five million units, but they run the risk of halting growth.
Releasing a sequel has a reduced risk-profile versus a new IP, but Zelnick feels that it’s “both an obligation and an opportunity to do both.” How they do that remains an open question, and there are opportunities to reduce risk.
On top of that, the world of interactive entertainment now allows “on more bite at the apple.” That’s why 2K is still releasing new content for Battleborn, and they’re “counting it out for a minute.” Evolve Stage 2 is another example, with over a million players signing up. Zelnick explained that the world is changing. It’s unforgiving because there is a lot of money that needs to be invested in new IP, but it’s much more forgiving because it’s possible to have consumers be part of new releases, iterate with them, and come back and play another day.
“If your watchword is quality, there are great opportunities. Say what you will, the consumers actually said great things about Battleborn, as have the critics. We’re still encouraged by our approach of bringing back beloved sequels while creating new intellectual properties. We have to be careful, of course, to balance our investments and our risks with the opportunity, and there’s a little bit of science there, a little bit of heart in there, and that’s one of the things that we do every day.”