Home Gaming Only really 4 AAA publishers left, says Take-Two boss

Only really 4 AAA publishers left, says Take-Two boss

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The triple AAA game space is shrinking. It certainly feels that way – there are fewer great big studios and publishers than there were just 10 years ago, leaving just the companies that can actually afford to make games able. There are fewer AAA publishers – and Take-Two is pretty happy about that.

“The truth is that we’re blessed in that the shelf is way less crowded today than it was at the beginning of the last console cycle,” Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick said – Speaking at the Cowen and Company’s 43rd Annual Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference. “There’s been a big shake out. It’s pretty hard to make AAA products that are really competitive. We are not the only company that does it, but we’re one of four companies, really, that do it. And we see ourselves as number three in the business. I think most people see it that way, and our revenue certainly stacks up that way.”

There are far, far more smaller publishers, developers and studios, but Zelnick doesn’t see them as competition.

“I was asked recently in a similar setting, ‘What do you think about all these entrepreneurs who are working independently to create independent games?’ And the answer is I think it’s really interesting and we’re aiming to learn more,” Zelnick said. “But to be clear, they cannot do what we do. There is no opportunity to make a AAA game in a garage. Those days are long gone. You need at least 100 people working on a title for at least two or three years. That is a very expensive, complex, difficult undertaking.”

Back to the four AAA houses – and ignoring first parties – which one might he mean? Obviously Activision and EA, and probably Ubisoft in at third – which is a bit of a slap in the face to places like Square Enix, Warner Bros  Bethesda and Capcom.

Not taking indies, mobile pubs and other publishers seriously is also a little strange, seeing as Tencent, King, and DeNA actually make more money.

Last Updated: May 29, 2015

75 Comments

  1. FreddyBear

    May 29, 2015 at 13:05

    Bethesda’s the only AAA I need…. (apart from TESO) 😛

    Reply

  2. Admiral Chief's Adventure

    May 29, 2015 at 13:07

    Die ou het ‘n gesig soos ‘n tent pen

    Reply

    • Ottokie

      May 29, 2015 at 13:12

      Jy wil dit net in die grond donner?

      Reply

      • Admiral Chief's Adventure

        May 29, 2015 at 13:16

        10 punte net vir jou, Ottokie

        Reply

        • Loftus

          May 29, 2015 at 13:23

          Op slaan…mens slaan ‘n tent op. maar die chief se agressie ken geen einde nie 😛

          Reply

          • Admiral Chief's Adventure

            May 29, 2015 at 13:23

            Jy slaan ‘n tent op ja, maar jy wetter die ten pen in die grond in

          • Loftus

            May 29, 2015 at 13:25

            Ek dink ons praat dieselfde storie oor die arrogante man met die bicycle gesig.

          • Admiral Chief's Adventure

            May 29, 2015 at 13:27

            Moer, wetter, kaplaks slaan, nes jy wil ja

  3. Mistake Not...

    May 29, 2015 at 13:14

    “You need at least 100 people working on a title for at least two or three years.”
    20 to make the game and 80 marketers to bleed the consumer for every penny they have.
    And yes, small companies can’t make AAA games, but it’s still better than the nonsense some of these AAA houses are putting out.
    *Finishes venting steam

    Reply

    • Admiral Chief's Adventure

      May 29, 2015 at 13:18

      *harnesses steam for electricity
      *sells back to Eishkom
      *profits

      Reply

      • Deceased

        May 29, 2015 at 13:43

        *Eishkom sells bought electricity to neighbouring countries*
        *power goes o

        Reply

        • Admiral Chief's Adventure

          May 29, 2015 at 13:49

          Sad, but true

          Reply

  4. Ghost In The Rift

    May 29, 2015 at 13:17

    CDPR should take a spot, i bow down to their master piece, should let Dandelion make a ballad of their achievements and keep the girls safe.

    Reply

    • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

      May 29, 2015 at 13:29

      I am in full agreement with this statement…

      Reply

      • Deceased

        May 29, 2015 at 13:44

        Me too, because girls need “safety” XD

        Reply

        • Ghost In The Rift

          May 29, 2015 at 15:48

          LOL!!

          Reply

    • SEGA Neptune

      May 29, 2015 at 13:56

      Nep wants all devs to be able to publish their own game.

      Reply

      • Ghost In The Rift

        May 29, 2015 at 16:05

        True, but i always remember who made the games and don’t care about who publishes what lol

        Reply

  5. Hammersteyn

    May 29, 2015 at 13:21

    The less publishers the better. They buy up studios and milk the properties till the cows tits falls off and then they close shop making countless talented people unemployed . Gaming would be better of without them.

    Reply

    • Admiral Chief's Adventure

      May 29, 2015 at 13:21

      An…interesting point there dude

      Reply

      • Hammersteyn

        May 29, 2015 at 13:21

        EA, prime example.

        Reply

        • Ghost In The Rift

          May 29, 2015 at 16:06

          So true, you have my vote.

          Reply

          • Hammersteyn

            May 29, 2015 at 16:33

            XD

    • Ir0nseraph

      May 29, 2015 at 13:23

      Well being a AAA publisher seems to be judged by the amount and not the quality of games shipped in a year, CDPR and Rockstargames may only release games further apart , but their quality towers like a shadow over the top 4.

      Reply

      • Pariah

        May 29, 2015 at 13:25

        A gazillion bugs in TW3 say hi.

        Reply

        • Hammersteyn

          May 29, 2015 at 13:25

          LOL at least we know they’re working on it.

          Reply

          • Admiral Chief's Adventure

            May 29, 2015 at 13:28

            Yeah, and not doing a moer expensive DLC and hiding bug fixes in there

          • Hammersteyn

            May 29, 2015 at 13:31

            Or using terms like “rewarding experience”

          • Admiral Chief's Adventure

            May 29, 2015 at 13:31

            Heh

          • Pariah

            May 29, 2015 at 13:30

            Activision worked on their bugs too. I’m just pointing out the obvious here.

        • Ir0nseraph

          May 29, 2015 at 13:30

          So far it’s the only game this console generation that lived up to the hype.

          Reply

          • Admiral Chief's Adventure

            May 29, 2015 at 13:31

            Wow, that is quite the statement dude, and quite true may I say

          • Pariah

            May 29, 2015 at 13:32

            CDPR – releases patch to fix bugs, makes more bugs. Nice hype

          • Hammersteyn

            May 29, 2015 at 13:32

            The trains still rolling even if it’s a not quite on the tracks.

          • Pariah

            May 29, 2015 at 13:33

            I know a certain government that can have that term applied to them.

            Again, I’m just pointing stuff out here.

          • Ir0nseraph

            May 29, 2015 at 13:33

            I didn’t say it’s perfect , just as close to perfect we have seen in a while.

          • Pariah

            May 29, 2015 at 13:34

            It’s a sad state our industry is in if a bug-ridden mess is “as close to perfect we have seen in a while”.

          • Hammersteyn

            May 29, 2015 at 13:37

            Indie games are perfect o/

          • Ir0nseraph

            May 29, 2015 at 13:38

            XD

          • Pariah

            May 29, 2015 at 13:43

            Not really. Some are close, certainly, but I don’t think any game can be perfect. Ever.

          • Ir0nseraph

            May 29, 2015 at 13:39

            It’s my opinion of a game i enjoy , and since it’s the first game I ever played from CDPR I am amazed at how much fun it is.

        • Blood Emperor Trevor

          May 29, 2015 at 13:35

          It’s so cute when you try.

          Reply

          • Pariah

            May 29, 2015 at 13:35

            Not my fault fan boys don’t see reason or logic.

          • Hammersteyn

            May 29, 2015 at 13:38

            And there it is.

      • Hammersteyn

        May 29, 2015 at 13:25

        I’d buy a Battlefield or COD game from CDPR or Rockstar any day.

        Reply

      • Nikola

        May 29, 2015 at 13:36

        I think you are very right there I rather have quality over quantity and Witcher 3 is the best game I’ve played in a really long time!

        Reply

      • Freeflight

        May 30, 2015 at 13:59

        CDPR is not really an publisher, they are mainly an development studio.
        Rockstargames is owned by Take-Two, as such they don’t tower over any of the “top 4”, because they are actually part of them.

        Reply

        • Ir0nseraph

          May 30, 2015 at 15:09

          O well that settles that then, thanks.

          Reply

    • The Sten

      May 29, 2015 at 13:28

      Its not black or white. Publisher or no publisher. The publishers have a a roll to play in bringing the developed game to the consumer. The problem is when they force good games to have Bloated and unneccessary DLC and pre order crap that changes or interferes with the core game that the developers wanted. They just need to know their place thats all

      Reply

      • Hammersteyn

        May 29, 2015 at 13:29

        There are some that I’d support blindly. But they are in the minority.

        Reply

        • Admiral Chief's Adventure

          May 29, 2015 at 13:30

          Is that why you support me?

          Reply

          • Hammersteyn

            May 29, 2015 at 13:31

            Well you are in the minority

          • Admiral Chief's Adventure

            May 29, 2015 at 13:32

            In being so much awesome in one person? Why thank you dude, you maketh me blush

      • Deceased

        May 29, 2015 at 13:49

        Good luck trying to teach management and/or PR their roles and/or place in any space of the SDLC … I’ve seen some weird shit and really horrible decisions from those departments and at the end of the day, the devs, who make less money, have to grind their asses off to keep the clients/consumers happy with the promises that were made 😐

        Reply

  6. Greylingad[CNFRMD]

    May 29, 2015 at 13:28

    If I have ever encountered a corporate smile, well, this guy has one, look at those shining white teeth, I could’ve been blinded by them…

    Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      May 29, 2015 at 13:31

      Would not buy a car for R100 from him. Maybe R99

      Reply

      • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

        May 29, 2015 at 13:37

        Well, I won’t buy a chappie from him, behind that smile is a hidden dividend that you’ll have to pay out after unwrapping it, then there’ll be an inspection as to whether you really need to have the chappie and by the time the investigation finishes, the chappie would have disintegrated into oblivion…

        Reply

  7. Blood Emperor Trevor

    May 29, 2015 at 13:38

    Again, watch the credits of a AAA game from T2, EA, Ubi. Look at how many C-level execs there are, Presidents, Vice-Presidents, etc, etc, etc, just from the publisher’s side. There’s usually more of them than there are developers. That’s why it costs so much.

    Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      May 29, 2015 at 13:39

      I want to say fat cats but I prefer fat fucks

      Reply

      • Trevor Matrix

        May 29, 2015 at 13:49

        So you like ’em big boned?
        I can respect that…

        Reply

        • Hammersteyn

          May 29, 2015 at 13:57

          Something something cushion

          Reply

    • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

      May 29, 2015 at 13:40

      The worst is that they get rewarded for “innovative business decisions”, you know, paid DLC, unfinished games, screwing goats….

      Reply

    • Freeflight

      May 30, 2015 at 14:06

      They are merely glorified middle-men, pretty similar to big music labels.
      The only unique thing these companies can offer being financing and some infrastructure and these usually come with a pretty hefty price tag (responsibilities), outside of that there is no particular need for “AAA publishers” anymore.

      Reply

  8. Blood Emperor Trevor

    May 29, 2015 at 13:39

    If you remove all the corporate babble what he really said was, “I hate competition & monopolies are cool!”

    Reply

    • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

      May 29, 2015 at 13:41

      EX-ACT-O-MUNDO!!

      Reply

      • Hammersteyn

        May 29, 2015 at 13:44

        *Hears Samuel L Jackson in my head

        Reply

        • Greylingad[CNFRMD]

          May 29, 2015 at 13:45

          Oh, Shit-Yeah!

          Reply

  9. SEGA Neptune

    May 29, 2015 at 13:46

    Nep agrees with Jim. “When Publishers Kick, Developers Start”

    Reply

    • Blood Emperor Trevor

      May 29, 2015 at 13:51

      Publishers: Nobody likes CRPGS any more. Divinity:OS, Pillars of Eternity, Wasteland 2, Torment all say hi.
      Publishers: Nobody likes space sims any more. Star Citizen & Elite: Dangerous say hi.
      Publishers: Nobody likes Megaman or Castlevania any more: Mighty No.9 & Bloodstained say hi.

      KS isn’t perfect & carries risks of its own, but one thing it’s proven is when publishers say people don’t like something what they mean is it won’t make a $1 billion franchise.

      Reply

      • SEGA Neptune

        May 29, 2015 at 13:53

        Nep nep thinks the Industry is in a new Golden Age.

        Viva inhouse, viva CD Projekt Red 🙂

        Reply

  10. konfab

    May 29, 2015 at 13:57

    Hmm, I wonder if he has forgotten the about Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.

    Reply

  11. carol argo

    May 29, 2015 at 14:48

    That person might be in for a shock soon,the futur AAA title will likely come from India and only on android,especially now that nvidia shield for tv is out and its sibling for tablet.

    Reply

  12. Sentient_Slug

    May 29, 2015 at 14:51

    1. Ubisoft
    2. EA
    3. Activision
    4. Naughty Dog
    5. Bioware
    6. Bethesda
    7. Square-enix
    8. Epic

    But then again I always get confused between developers. publishers, game studios etc. I do think, however, that this guy sounds as kak as his hair looks.

    Reply

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