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Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said in an earnings call today that he is allergic to buzzwords like the metaverse, special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), and cryptocurrencies.
Those buzzwords have generated a huge amount of excitement and investment. There are those like Roblox CEO Dave Baszucki who want to build a metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One. SPACs are quick alternatives to going public, and companies such as Skillz have used these to raise money on Wall Street. And cryptocurrency fans have touted the blockchain-based tech as being transformative for games.
“We’re going to create bigger experiences as always by encouraging our creative folks to pursue their passions and to always think of that thing that no one thought of before,” Zelnick said. “Which is why our strategy is to be the most creative and most innovative and most efficient company in the entertainment business.”
He added, “I’m always allergic to buzzwords. The buzzwords of VR (virtual reality) didn’t get this industry too far and AR (augmented reality) hasn’t improved matters either. 3D hasn’t done much for us. What moves the dial in our business is amazing creativity, great characters, great stories, great graphics, great gameplay. The ability to enjoy those experiences with other people all around the world. That is what really matters.”
The metaverse is already here?
And he said, “I think what the metaverse implies is what we already do with GTA Online and Red Dead Online and what we do with NBA 2K and what we aim to do with upcoming titles. An opportunity to exist in that fictional world and express yourself in ways that are challenging and new and do things we can’t really do in the real world.”
Would we want to do conference calls in game worlds? Probably not.
“If you take metaverse, SPAC, and cryptocurrency, in five years will any of this matter? I’m not sure it will,” Zelnick said.
Of course, Zelnick is an incumbent when it comes to having leading titles now. It is natural for him to pooh-pooh trends supported by would-be competitors who could potentially disrupt his business.
Apple v. Epic
Regarding the Apple v. Epic trial over Apple’s 30% royalty rates for iOS games, Zelnick declined to make a specific comment. But he said that given the trial and various regulatory actions, “clearly take-rates are being examined.”
He noted the company is in a broadly competitive distribution environment and that Take-Two will employ a broad array of ways to reach distributors, including its own direct-to-consumer means. He thinks that means that “take-rates,” such as Apple’s 30% royalty, will decline meaningfully and that will benefit Take-Two.
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