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Take-Two CEO: "THQ won't be around in six months"

Strauss Zelnick had some harsh words for THQ at a recent conference [UPDATED]

Update: There's only so much damage control that can be done after comments like this, but now Strauss Zelnick has apologized for his remarks. "While discussing our strategy I spoke out of turn about someone else's. It was inappropriate and I regret it," he told Game Informer.

Original story:

THQ has been struggling of late as it attempts to make its business profitable again. In the most recent quarter, sales expectations were missed by $125 million and the company decided to further narrow its focus on core titles and connected experiences, but will it work out for THQ? Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two, sure doesn't think so.

Speaking at the MIT Business in Gaming conference in Massachusetts, Zelnick slammed THQ's business.

"THQ's strategy was licensed properties, first and foremost. License stuff from other people, whether it's UFC or WWE or a motion picture property, and make a game around that," Zelnick said, according to Joystiq. He then continued to pat himself on the back for his management of Take-Two in the last several years. "And our approach, since we took over the company, is 100 percent owned intellectual property."

Zelnick noted that there's a simple reason that THQ has struggled while Take-Two has bolstered its business: game quality.

"The most important difference is quality. Take-Two has the highest quality ratings among third-party publishers, according to Metacritic and most people in the industry. Quality really, really, really matters. THQ has had some good games, but their quality levels aren't even remotely ... the quality hasn't measured up," he said.

"Strategy didn't work and the execution was bad. To put it another way: the food was no good and the portions were small... THQ won't be around in six months."

Needless to say, THQ, upon hearing Zelnick's remarks, was none too please about it. A spokesperson issued the following statement: "Obviously, Mr. Zelnick's perception of THQ is outdated and inaccurate. His comments are irresponsible and false. Perhaps he would be better off commenting on his own business."

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Latest comments (11)

Ollie Miles Writer/Artist/Designer/Programmer 4 years ago
Weeell...Darksiders 2, FOV, nuff said.

Lulz, AND HOMEFRONT, ye gods, I didn't realise Kaos Studios was one of theirs. Ouch. xD

Might've been a faux pas, but Take Two's CEO ain't a silly boi. :) Even if they did publish the last (hopefully in both senses) Duke.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Ollie Miles on 6th April 2012 5:59pm

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
I didn't realise Company of Heroes, Saints Row and Darksiders were licensed. :) And, even with licensed property, they publish some good games - the Warhammer and Metro games, for instance. Silly rabbit is silly.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game4 years ago
Don't 2K do licenced sports games in the US? Also, 2K do pretty much have the best track record for quality games in the west, but it used to be the case that they were losing money every year that they had no GTA game. If you are talking quality, and interesting ideas realised well, 2K have earned the right to be cocky, but in terms of consistantly making money, they are over reliant on
Rockstar, and specifically GTA/RDR, the success of GTA IV seems to be the only reason they are not part of EA, or someone else. So maybe his advice to THQ should be "strike lucky by bottling lightning in a jar, finding that one magical franchise."
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Show all comments (11)
Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
I think if they announced a new Homeworld game, THQ would have their lightning in a jar straight away.
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Ollie Miles Writer/Artist/Designer/Programmer 4 years ago
Could be, if they could just stop doing so much Warhammer.
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Ollie Miles Writer/Artist/Designer/Programmer 4 years ago
What?

BioShock, Borderlands, Civilization, Grand Theft Auto, L.A. Noire, Mafia, Max Payne, Railroad Tycoon, Red Dead, all did well, and they're just the one's I know about personally.

Verses; Red Faction, Saints Row and Darksiders. Itís not about finding one magical franchise, it's about building up a bitching portfolio.

Word. :D

EDIT: I MEAN, BIOSHOCK! What are you talking about, GTA is the only money tree?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ollie Miles on 7th April 2012 4:01pm

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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game4 years ago
Ollie, a lot of the games did reasonable numbers, but Take Two still run at a yearly loss every year that they don't have a GTA, or Red Dead Redemption. As I said, 2K make my favourite selection of games, but the fact still remains, that hasn't equated to overall profit. They were on the verge of being taken over by E A a few years back, and it was the GTA revenue that ultimately let them stay separate.
That is not really changed by the fact that you named a bunch of really awesome 2K games. They published Oblivion too.

Besides I love Darksiders, although I accept that that may not be enough.
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Ollie Miles Writer/Artist/Designer/Programmer 4 years ago
Andy: *shrug* I'm a developer; I go by the games, not the figures. My interest in the enterprise side starts at 'this game I wanna make is bitchin' and ends at 'thank you for the sack of gold to make my game'. Other people tell me how long I've got to work most of the time.

How can they release a bunch of awesome and high selling games, but run at a loss if not for GTA? That would mean they're making all those awesome titles at a loss...

And that list was supposed to represent the disparity between the two companies: one's got a barrel of awesome titles, the other has a cup full.

You telling me bad operational financing is dragging both of them down?
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game4 years ago
Yes. It is baffling but yes, 2K make awesome games that sell well and run at a loss most years. And the the me that loves most 2K games, excepting the awful DNF, agrees that it's the quality of games that matter, but it's the figures that drove Stauss Zelnick to make these comments about THQ, so it's figures that are relevant here.
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Ollie Miles Writer/Artist/Designer/Programmer 4 years ago
(Sorry, I forgot about this) OK, so yeah, if theyíre both running at a loss, then OK, but thatís insane. And not sustainable, no?
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 4 years ago
He makes 2 very good points:
1) Own your own IP.
2) Don't publish rubbish.

These should be rules that every industry CEO has to chant as a mantra before work each morning.
Publishing other people's IP adds no value to your company and just enriches others.

And there are other publishers that Zelnick could have said exactly the same about! Publishers with year on year losses.
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