Take-Two CEO Says Evolve's DLC Controversy is "A Good Thing"

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Take-Two CEO Says Evolve's DLC Controversy is "A Good Thing"


Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick says that, generally speaking, the controversy surrounding Evolve is a good thing.

The gaming controversy of the last few months has been around Evolve and its DLC practices. Turtle Rock Studios boss Phil Robb offered his own thoughts on the matter earlier, and now, parent company Take-Two's CEO Strauss Zelnick has made his own statement.

"Controversy, generally speaking, is a good thing," said Zelnick at Take-Two's annual earnings call. "People can argue about the business model. I think we're delivering a fantastic title that's well versed with consumers who will pay for it. And all signs are extraordinarily positive."

He went on the boast that Evolve has been the "only game in history" to win Game of Show honors at both E3 and Gamescom in the same year. "Never like to claim success before it's occurred. This looks to be a good news event. I'm going to leave it at that. Hopefully, in our next call, we'll have great news to report."

The controversy in question essentially sprung up from one of Turtle Rock's earliest statements on the game, that it was a title being built "from the ground up to accommodate DLC". Many fans took issue with the developer pushing DLC so hard before the game had even been released, something that was further compounded by the game's myriad of special edition and pre-order options.

What do you think of Zelnick's statements? It looks like he is standing by that old journalism adage of "all press is good press", but I'm not too sure myself. I know I personally have been put off purchasing the title at launch as a direct result of the controversy, and will wait for the inevitable "Game of the Year" edition that bundles up all its DLC.


Most controversy can indeed be spun into something good if you know what you're doing...but I'm inclined to believe that excludes "controversial business models". Blue Alien Side-Boob in Mass Effect is good controversy as it piques curiosity to see what all the fuss is about, while having people spit on your product and call it an overpriced scam is not a good controversy as it promotes the image that you're just a money-grubbing asshole peddling an incomplete product.

People cancelling their pre-orders is a good thing now? They will most certainly jump for joy if everyone cancels.

they have sort of shot themselves in the foot. people will hold out for a complete edition but by then the multiplayer will probably be dead so they wont purchase it

That's the problem with these prick CEO's of these big AAA development companies: "Any publicity is good publicity."

They basically want attention, good or bad, because it puts their product in the limelight. They have their heads so far up their own ass that they fail to see that gamers aren't just puppets on a string that they can make dance for them. That trick isn't going to work any more. Welcome to the information age where the internet makes super exposure of those sleazeball tactics that were once behind doors. No longer are reviews a month later in some magazine, or copies not shown unless at a friend's house who had already purchased it. Nope, one search on YouTube, on Twitch, on Google will find the sludge that your product is hiding behind flashy videos. And that exposure will take your crap product and sink it. Have fun, as I'm sure that people like Jim Sterling, Angry Joe, and Yahtzee will all crucify the game equally.

Is it Take Two or 2K Games that are trying for the dumbest comment of the year award?

EDIT. Apparently, they're the same thing. Somehow that doesn't surprise me.

People cancelling their pre-orders is a good thing now?

It is a good thing, though probably for different reasons.

Of the video game websites I go to the only one still talking about this is the one that he owns.

Remember, this wasn't a statement to improve consumer confidence but SHAREHOLDER confidence.

"Oh no, people are cancelling pre-orders causing our SHAREHOLDER confidence to fall! Quick, let's fix that by improving our SHAREHOLDER confidence! Time for a rousing SHAREHOLDER focused speech!"

Welcome to corporate metrics where they observe everything as numbers rather than in practical terms. The value of the shares and the confidence of the shareholders matter more than growth or profitability. Why? Because the CEO has a golden parachute and just needs to keep the company afloat while he's running the show. He resigns then becomes CEO of another company and the new CEO is stuck picking up the pieces.

Damn that got ranty... the point is this is some grade A corporate bullshit being spouted by some shill in a suit. It is not grounded in reality and is addressing the symptom, not the cause.

My that's a fine corporate dreidel there.
Just look at it spin.

He's right. Most gamers get hyped up very easily. I still remember how everyone got extremely hyped up for Diablo 3 and rushed to get it even though everyone already knew that it would use always-online DRM. People complained before and after they bought it.

I don't know if controversy helps but it certainly doesn't hurt.

Really. Well, I know he's got to say that, but this is the big reason I've decided to just bypass and ignore the game though it looked initially exciting.

But Call of Duty still sells a lot, so maybe he's right.

When I clicked on this I was kinda hoping the guy meant something in the vein of "Yeah, it's a good thing people are criticizing and scrutinizing our DLC, because most other developers are ripping people off with these things and we're going to make waves by introducing an innovative model that works and gives players what they actually pay for."

But the guy is a CEO, so apparently he opened his gaping maw and a swarm of locusts and feces just kinda burst out in the shape of two hands shooting everyone the double bird.

Damn businessmen.

"Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself."--Oscar Wilde

Controversy, in that sense, is a good thing. Though it might be giving the movie too much credit, the discussion surrounding American Sniper may be that kind of controversy.

But not all controversies are discussions about works of art. The kind of controversy surrounding the launch of Unity was not, and was not a 'good thing'. It can only become a good thing if the company listens in the short term (as Ubi seems to have, offering free DLC, etc.) and in the long term (it doesn't release such broken games again).

While Zelnick is careful to say that "generally speaking" controversy is a good thing, it's clear that he believes the kind of controversy surrounding Evolve is the good kind.

But the controversy around the game has nothing to do with its artistic merits. It is not about what the game is, but how it is being sold to us. In an era of extensive DLC the game has managed to still become controversial because of the sheer amount it has in the pipeline. That places it squarely in the second group I mentioned.

That isn't, in itself, enough to call the controversy 'bad'. As with the release of Unity, it depends on whether the company listens.

But if anything, his statement above seems to indicate that he is using the idea of 'controversy' to justify not listening.

People cancelling their pre-orders is a good thing now? They will most certainly jump for joy if everyone cancels.

considering that noone should preorder ever, its awesome. though probably not to take-two.

Yes, revel in being despised, that worked SO well for E.A.
They essentially caved in and have been if not repealing, at least keeping under the radar with their bullshit anti-consumer policies for the past couple years after all the bad P.R. If the bilious spite of millions of gamers brought the largest player in the game to it's knees and cowed it like a whimpering puppy, just how the hell do you think you're going to spin this shit to your advantage? That might placate people for a little while, but once the numbers come in, you'll be out of a job.

Oh sure it's a good thing, if you can ignore being seen as a toxic shit stain plaguing the industry. Lets just ride the popularity wave till it dies out and all that will be left is a name that will suffocate you.

I'm betting this won't stay popular for long. Good scores and awards (which most pretty games get now) doesn't mean it will last, and because of your 'business model', you will always have us scrutinise and judge you where ever your name is mentioned.

Steven Bogos:
Disclosure(s): Strauss Zelnick, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., is the head of ZelnickMedia, an investor in both Take-Two and Defy Media, LLC, our parent company. This article was published without approval or consent of ZelnickMedia or Take-Two.

Thank you for this honesty.

I agree with that business controversy is bad controversy. While a cultural(?) controversy about plot, design or game mechanics can be easily spin into good controversy. I mean if the Devs sweat and bleed their love into the game but management are hellspawns, more people will just pirate it.

"Never like to claim success before it's occurred..."

And then proceeds to claim success, yeah he's a sleezeball CEO alright.

If I had one wish it would be for everyone to cancel any preorders and not buy any DLC ever for Evolve just to spite them.

Soviet Heavy:
Is it Take Two or 2K Games that are trying for the dumbest comment of the year award?

There're the same company 2K is just a brand covering all Take-Two owned and hired developers excluding Rockstar.

But the game won awards at E3 and Gamescon, you guys!
Well, demo footage/beta gameplay judged by industry insiders was given meaningless tradeshow awards.

Gotta love the spin in this. Start with praising the controversy but never explain the controversy then switch tracks and praise your game for the controversy. Then completely abandon the topic and bring back old news in a new light to end on an extremely positive point.
Congratulations, you've effectively said nothing while pretending to make a statement.

If having people cancel their pre-orders over excessive DLC plans is good controversy, then what is bad controversy?

I reiterate: The people who run these companies are aliens, right?

"And all signs are extraordinarily positive."

He either is in major denial, or thinks that we are.

Honestly, I WAS interested in EVOLVE... before its business model came to light. Amazing how such a promising title just entirely dropped off my radar. I have zero interest in the game now. At best, I might check it out with a "complete" edition at bargain price depending on reviews or demos.


People cancelling their pre-orders is a good thing now? They will most certainly jump for joy if everyone cancels.

considering that noone should preorder ever, its awesome. though probably not to take-two.

Yup. I've yet to be ripped off by a game thats been out for a year and I did basic research on before buying.

No it isn't. Not for them anyway. It's great for me. And some other people that are becoming DLC weary. I for one have no intention of buying Evolve. Ever. It's not even a bargain bin for me.

I think we're delivering a fantastic title

It's cute that he has an opinion. But my opinion is more relevant seeing how I'm the potential customer. And I think the game can rot in hell for all I care. It's not like the gaming market is lacking fun games to play. I can go to Steam right now and find at least a dozen titles that I can buy to occupy my free time with. And then there's the backlog, books, movies, TV shows, and the classic human interaction and connection through various fun activities. So why the fuck would I even bother with his overpriced shit with an abysmal business model designed to nickle and dime the players instead of focusing on a fun and rich experience out of the box? Why would anyone bother with it? It's not like it's the only piece of entertainment to be released this year.

It's actually amazing that these things can be successful when the market is the way it is. Yet they succeed all the time. Gamers must be really dense or extremely rich to buy into every money grabbing title that comes along with a huge marketing campaign behind it.

I really wish game journalism outlets would stop giving awards at preview events to begin with. "Our game took 6 Best of E3 awards!" Claims a developer, not bothering to note that that's out of about 600 awards given out at that show, since game journalists give out those "awards" like candy. Everyone there is bound to win something with those odds.

Strauss Zelnick:
Controversy, generally speaking, is a good thing. People can argue about the business model. I think we're delivering a fantastic title that's well versed with consumers who will pay for it. And all signs are extraordinarily positive. [I] never like to claim sucuesl beofie it's ocrued. This loakshtho boaehalkga fjbhatoh blahhhghagl hgalg.

Sorry, I kind of crapped out around the end there: I couldn't see through all the glaze that accumulated on my eyes while I was reading the statement fragment. Now I really don't feel all that left out over having no internal hype for this game given the last few weeks.

Well he's not wrong is he, only about 10% of their consumers ever cared about the "scandal" and by the time that game comes out even they won't, only thing that will keep echoing is the hype.
So he can rightfully expect a massive success on the basis of sheer consumer ignorance.

The guy kind of came off as a smug asshole IMO. To me shitty DLC gouging controversy is not a good thing. Granted it gets the game name out there, but it's doing more harm. Those of us who pay attention to this kind of stuff are more then likely going to pass this one up.

I'm pretty sure those with zero spending restrictions will still pick this up and any/every DLC that can be thrown at them. I try to stay away from gamers like that. More times those type of people tend to be very elitist and make playing with or against them not very fun sometimes. Kind of like those elite players that spend $100's of dollars in CS:GO on weapon skins and play with such shit sportsmanship.

Wow. I bet this guy has a poster of Bobby Kotick hanging on his office wall.

Just replying to the headline, this is a great thing, people are showing a (somewhat) organized opposition to a practice the consumers have deemed to be unfair or exploitative. That is great, it supports the idea that consumers are becoming resistant to unfair practices and will hopefully vote with their wallets when this game is released, harming its initial sales period and (hopefully) encouraging businesses to reexamine how they treat the majority of players instead of simply the people who are dedicated to buying games for pre-orders and early access. If we are lucky, Evolve will struggle at launch, but will gain players as it ages and is actually 'finished.' What I don't get is why the CEO thinks its a good idea. Evolve is a fairly big name, well known title. He seems to think that this controversy is good because it is getting awareness out, but that only works when awareness is a problem. Games that are smaller and controversial benefit (sometimes) from controversy because a small amount of people will always buy something to see what the fuss is all about. If that small amount of people exceeds the amount of people that would have bought the game without the controversy, then the controversy is at least profitable, while I doubt its good if those involved ever want to make another game. But I have heard about Evolve for years, games media has been talking about it since its announcement (actually before since it's preorder bonus stuff surfaced before the game itself). I just don't get how it is at all good for Take-Two because their vehement defense of something people oppose doesn't look good.

I don't get the outcry. They've said the DLC they are selling is not "day1 DLC", it'll probably be a month or so until it comes out. Sure the dude definitely said some stupid stuff, but if we hated everyone who said stupid stuff once upon a time and didn't walk it back after we'd end up hating everyone (including ourselves).

If the anger is about "DLC fatigue" then fine, I get that. If you pay $60.00 for a game and can't/wont get your money's worth out of it in a month then fine. However if I take 2 of my kids to see an imax movie until I pay for admission and some snacks we're way over the $60.00 threshold and that's an aggregate total of what, ~6 hours of entertainment value? So if I spend 7 hours playing the game before this "evil DLC" comes out I have to feel like I got good value for my money. At that point I can judge DLC on a case-by-case basis and determine if I would get enough value out of it to make it worth purchasing. Plus their DLC won't split up the community unlike loads of other games.

Wow. I bet this guy has a poster of Bobby Kotick hanging on his office wall.

Oh man, that had me going. Well played, Aerotrain. Well played, though I feel ex-EA CEO John Riccitiello would be a better fit since at one point he said he wished he could charge players for virtual ammunition in online FPS matches.

He's right. This IS a good thing..Just not for Evolve. Controversies like these might convince publishers steer away from doing similar things in the future. One can always hope at least.

He's still talking about us using the same language of mobile developer's with their pay-to-play models. They could be trying to mimic the MOBA games, but slapping a $60 price tag at the beginning doesn't work.

I was never really interested in the game in the first place. I'll play squad-based missions as a sort of dessert to my gaming, like the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer.

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