Take-Two posted an exceptional set of Q4 and full-year results for 2018-2019 yesterday evening. On the back of the launch of Red Dead Redemption the company’s total net booking rose by 47 per cent to a record $2.93bn (£2.55bn).
Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick told MCV: “Red Dead Redemption 2 is a massive hit, we sold in more than 24m units. And we’ve maintained the original wholesale price while doing that.”
The online mode for the game is still in beta but that due to end soon, Strauss revealed. “We expect to come out of beta in the current quarter and launch more content. History shows that when we do that we gain momentum both with online and the core game as well.
“So we couldn’t be happier with Red Dead Redemption 2 and the outlook for Red Dead Online. We’ll see how it continues to perform, but results for Red Dead Online were up sequentially in the quarter,” he told us, before adding that a total of 90m people had engaged with a Rockstar Games title over the financial year.
But Take-Two is far more than Rockstar of course. With a Take-Two statement noting that the big contributors during the year also included: NBA 2K19 and NBA 2K18, WWE 2K19 and WWE SuperCard, Dragon City and Monster Legends, and Sid Meier’s Civilization VI. Strauss commented: “We had a record year for net bookings and a record year for adjusted operating cash flow.”
Looking ahead to the 2020 fiscal year, Strauss singled out Borderlands 3 as a key title, especially after the success of the pre-launch event last week. “We had something like 12 million views on Twitch and about a million hours viewed,” he noted.
We ask after his thoughts on the Epic exclusivity of that title and others from the Private Division label. “Well, we’re still on Steam with other titles, we’ll be on Steam with those titles after the exclusivity period, which is about six months. So I think our view is more choices to get to the consumer better and we wanted to be supportive as Epic launched its store,” he replies.
While the Epic Games Store move has attracted some criticism from fans, its been Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford that has been making the most headlines, so is Strauss concerned that’s drawing attention away from the game itself?
“Well certainly in terms of what we’re seeing from the event last week people are very engaged with the game itself. As they should be. And if it needs to be said we’re very supportive of Randy.”
Borderlands 3 will get a lot of attention this year but Take-Two’s 2019-2020 lineup is strong enough that its returning to the show floor of E3 with a consumer stand for the first time in many years: “We’ve got a big presence coming at E3.”
That presence should include Borderlands 3, plus upcoming titles in the NBA 2K and WWE 2K, plus The Outer Worlds and Ancenstors from Private Division. The company also has “some unannounced titles that we’re contemplating,” for the upcoming year, though we may not see those at E3.
“We have a robust year ahead and we’re projecting bookings of 2.5 plus billion dollars (£1.93bn plus) and cash flow from operations of over $400m (£309.4m). That’s phenomenal and you really should be comparing that to fiscal 2018, since that was the year that didn’t have Red Dead Redemption 2. It looks very positive, compared to 2018 it looks very positive indeed.”
Google’s Stadia is the other big unknown for publishers this year, so is Take-Two figuring it into its plans?
“So it remains to be seen. We’re not betting but the opportunity to have less friction between us and a consumer through streaming will almost certainly be a good thing,” Strauss tells us.
“It remains to be seen how big it is and we don’t tend to make financial projections based on opportunities like that. But we are excited about what Google Stadia will be doing and, assuming the business model works for us, we intend to be supportive and I suspect that we will be very supportive,” he continues.
And then adds: “We’ll also support other services and we do think that streaming technology presents an interesting opportunity.” By which he almost certainly means Microsoft’s xCloud, which we expect to hear a lot more about at E3.