During the MKM Partners Entertainment, Leisure and Internet Conference, Take-Two Interactive Software Chief Executive Officer Strauss Zelnick elaborated more on a previous statement in which he identified “anomalies” in the reviews system related to the release and reception of Mafia III.
“What has really happened here is that we have got a lot of great reviews, and then we’ve got some bad reviews.
I spoke earlier about a sort of an anomaly in the metacritic scores, and to be clear, I’m not being critical. We take these as we find them. But I am observing that it’s unusual to have great reviews from IGN and Forbes, and then some bad reviews that hold the scores down.
And I think, you know, if we got some criticism from the consumers that had to do with gameplay… But most everyone loved the look, the feel, the setting, the non-traditional protagonist, the 1968 re-imagined version of New Orleans, an African American criminal… This is all different ways to look at the Mafia franchise, and I think that has resonated.
Are we prooud of the marketing we did, including television marketing? Yes. Do we think that that marketing got that message out despite the sub-par scores as you correctly put it? Yes. Our title is doing fine. Better than fine. Mafia II sold over eight million units and this title is shaping up to be a big success.
So we don’t dispute what we find out in the marketplace, our goal is always to have the highest metacritic scores, but in this instance, I think what we’re offering the consumers a very powerful, fun experience.”
Zelnick was also asked whether Metacritic matters or not:
“Less than it used to, but still a lot. And the reason that it’s less than it used to is that when you see these anomalies, right? That does not help the system. And frankly, if it mattered less, that would be a good thing for us. It’s put more efficiency on the need to tell the story ourselves, and put more value in our marketing. But we can’t do anything about this, so the more Metacritic scores do not reflect how our consumers actually feel, the less relevant they’re going to be.”
Zelnick then continued mentioning that in the theater business reviews matter a lot. In the film industry they matter only some times, and in the music industry they don’t matter at all. The video game industry has been very similar to the theater business, with reviews that really, really mattered. He doesn’t think that was sustainable, and that’s probably a good thing, especially as the company innovates, and by innovating they’ll get certain things right and certain things not as right:
“So if you have reviewers that appear on Metacritic, who are going to torture you for everything you don’t get exactly right… If they’re not reflecting how consumers feel when they play the game, it’s not gonna be helpful.”
Mafia III released for PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 7th.