Want to know why you’re not seeing a lot of Take-Two label games on the App Store? That answer resides in a new Forbes interview with CEO Strauss Zelnick. When the conversation turned towards iPad and iPod games, the business-first-man whipped out the phrase “economically meaningful.” When used in a negative light like he did in the talk, it means, “not making the kind of money we want.” In short: the cold reality of business is why.
“We’ve tried a bunch a things. We tried Chinatown Wars [$9.99 / HD] for the iPhone, and we’re thrilled that we did it, and it was creatively successful. At the price point for which we can sell on the iPhone, it is not going to be economically meaningful,” he said.
To keep this in focus, Chinatown Wars started out as a Rockstar Leeds Nintendo DS project. The App Store version is a port with a few bells and whistles. The original DS title did not perform up to expectations, either.
“At the end of the day, we are interested in creating economic value, and what we intend to do is make something and sell it to millions and millions of people, and sell it at a high price. You don’t want to spend lots and lots of money to make something you are going to sell to a small amount of people at a low price.”
So, smart -- thus, cold and non-consumer facing -- business is, part of what’s gumming up the Take-Two / App Store works. Pricing specifically was touched on. Zelnick, naturally, favors boosted prices. When pressed, he seemed opened to the idea of a $20, $30, $40 tablet games -- but provided that said game brings a “robust and engaging” experience.
“I don’t see why not. Tablets are ubiquitous. And tablets are a great game platform. And it’s the right sized screen. And you use the tablet to have an engaging experience. So if all of that’s true, I don’t see why we wouldn’t be able to sell a robust product for the same price point. The reason the price point is currently lower for an iPhone app is it is used for five minutes, and not for a hundred hours,” Zelnick said.
There’s no little pretty bow to wrap this up in -- Zelnick was non-committal about the App Store as a whole. The thing is, though, is that Take-Two exists to make money and there’s no doubt at all that the App Store can provide in this arena. The question we’re asking now is if Take-Two will scale back experiences to cater to lower prices or if it actually does plan to charge premiums for console-like titles.