Strauss Zelnick Says Single Player Is Far From Dead

Take-Two Interactive is fighting against the narrative that in the wake of Grand Theft Auto Online's success, the company will work on maximizing the profits by using similar monetization methods in all future games.

While Red Dead Redemption 2 had only a limited, behind-closed-doors presence at E3 2018, the game publisher's CEO did answer some questions.

Strauss Zelnick's statements, while not revealing any new information about the game proper, give some insight into how things work at Take-Two and Rockstar, what direction the company wants to take, and what aspects of game development they prioritize. Though the questions didn't directly aim at these issues, two frequently voiced fan fears were also addressed.

You can read the whole interview with VentureBeat's Dean Takahashi here. It's an interesting piece of insight into Zelnick's business philosophies and is worth reading for people who care about the industry side of things.

There is, however, also a few answers that help us glean a bit about what to expect from Red Dead Redemption 2.

After the huge successes of Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto 5, the expectations for Red Dead Redemption 2 are colossal, and high expectations like these carry with them worry.

After GTA 5's once announced single-player DLC was quietly canned and the focus was shifted to Online, players began to worry that the success of the multiplayer mode would result in Red Dead Redemption 2's single-player portion being half-assed, with emphasis placed on multiplayer.

This has been the most prominent worry among fans ever since the announcement included a line stating that the game will also have a multiplayer mode.

An official Rockstar statement recently confirmed that the company is also committed to single-player experiences, which did help with the unrest, but only so much.

Zelnick was asked about the state of single-player games in an industry dominated by competitive e-sports and battle royale games being streamed en masse. His stance was clear, and reassuring:

Single-player, in my opinion, is not dead, not even close. Companies that feel like they’ll just avoid the hard work of building a story and characters and go right to where the money is in multiplayer, I don’t think that’s going to work. I’d be surprised.

In fact, it was the very success of GTA 5, in spite of the high player counts of Online, that provided further evidence that single-player experiences are still sought after. At launch, GTA Online was not included, only the story mode, and it broke all sales expectations.

We certainly feel like there’s no evidence that people don’t want a single-player, because they’re still playing Grand Theft Auto V.

Another concern voiced by players quite frequently is now that Rockstar has a clear model for a financially successful game, they'll just copy it. Some are afraid that Red Dead Redemption 2 will just be GTA 5 all over again with a Wild West skin.

While the reports of gameplay demos shown to press earlier this year helped assuage this fear, the fact that the public hasn't seen any of that footage means it's still afoot.

Zelnick addressed the innovative and creative nature of the design philosophy prevalent among Take-Two's subsidiaries. He sees creativity as a key resource and asset, and the success of the games developed by the companies under the aegis of Take-Two prove him right.

We say that our strategy is to be the most creative, the most innovative, and the most efficient. We really encourage our creative teams to follow what they’re passionate about. We give them a lot of resources to do that. We don’t tend to be focused on what used to work – “Let’s replicate what used to work.” We’re very focused on what’s on the cutting edge, what’s going to engage and entertain consumers in the future. We’re willing to take measured risk. When we get it wrong, we’re collaborative with the studios. We don’t point fingers.

While the frequent releases of 2K makes this more apparent in their case, comparing the more spaced out Rockstar titles prove this as well. Simply taking a look at a running comparison between GTA games shows that aside from a general iconic formula, the series has changed and evolved significantly.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is nearing release and the hype has been mounting nonstop since the initial announcement of the game. In the past few weeks, news flow has begun to pick up and soon more and more information will be revealed to the public. Based on various accounts from journalists we have an idea of what to expect but are yet to see the game in action.


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