The man at the helm of one of gaming’s giants, Take-Two Interactive, recently shared his thoughts on both gaming subscriptions and streaming.
CEO Strauss Zelnick mentioned his skepticism of subscription-based models but was more in favour of streaming, at least in certain cases, in a Take-Two earnings call.
When it comes to subscription models, Zelnick positioned Take-Two as a company that is open-minded because it wants to “be where the consumer is.” If it made sense from both a business and creative standpoint, the company will be glad to jump in, but it will not be without challenges.
You have to find that intersection in business models that serve the customer successfully and also serve everyone else who participates in the value chain. And that may prove to be a little challenging for subscriptions in this space because people do consume video games differently than they consume linear entertainment.
According to Zelnick, the average American household spends around 5 hours each day and 150 hours per month consuming linear programming such as TV and movies. For interactive mediums like video games, the average American home spends 1.5 hours daily or 45 hours monthly playing games, he said.
A subscription service for TV and film content makes more sense as people largely watch many different things that they can roll through quickly and move on. This makes an all-you-can-eat model such as Netflix appealing, Zelnick said.
For video games, however, the time investment might make that model a harder sell.
“In the case of video games, it is possible that the average user in those 45 hours might be playing 1, 2, maybe 3 titles; certainly not 70 titles,” he said. “In that event, if you play 1, 2, or 3 titles and you play them for months in a row–which often happens in [the video game world]–then a subscription model may not be such a great deal for the customer.”
Of course, Take-Two wants to release titles where gamers are. “This all remains to be seen; we’re open-minded,” the Take-Two boss added. “We want to be where the customer is. But I don’t think it is a foregone conclusion that subscription will be as massive for interactive ent as it has proven to be for music and motion pictures and television. But we’ll see.”
When it comes to streaming services, such as Google Stadia, Zelnick pointed to the ability to play blockbuster AAA titles without a console as a significant opportunity for Take-Two as a whole, it could mean potentially a wider audience.
We’re very optimistic about the notion of streaming technology bringing our titles to consumers who currently do not have access to them. The promise of being able to sign on to a service with virtually no barriers; without a box in between, and being able to play our games on any device whatsoever around the world and to do it with low-latency, well, that’s very compelling if that can be delivered.
The folks at Google minimally have said it will be delivered, and it will be delivered in relatively short order. Conceptually, we want to be where the consumer is. We’ll support new entrants. We are a believer in streaming services. We need to have business models that make sense for us, but so far we’re pretty optimistic.
This could mean the parent company behind behemoths such as Rockstar Games and 2K games will be expanding into streaming, and perhaps even subscription models.
Nevertheless, gaming’s future has never been more exciting/worrying and E3 next month could have even more reveals coming soon.