Take-Two boss talks $40 tablet games

Strauss Zelnick discusses premium-priced mobile games and more Duke Nukem

Retail prices for tablet games could be a reality according to Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick, who says he sees no reason why price points of up to $40 would not be feasible.

Speaking to Forbes, Zelnick began by discussing Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for the iPhone, which he described as "creatively successful" but "At the price point for which we can sell on the iPhone, it is not going to be economically meaningful."

"What we intend to do is make something and sell it to millions and millions of people, and sell it at a high price. You don't want to spend lots and lots of money to make something you are going to sell to a small amount of people at a low price," he explained.

He was then asked specifically whether he would charge "$20, $30 or $40 for a tablet game", to which he replied: "I don't see why not."

"Tablets are ubiquitous. And tablets are a great game platform. And it's the right sized screen. And you use the tablet to have an engaging experience. So if all of that's true, I don't see why we wouldn't be able to sell a robust product for the same price point. The reason the price point is currently lower for an iPhone app is it is used for five minutes, and not for a hundred hours

"My take is that small screens will be used for a quick but interactive entertainment experience. Mid and large screens can be a robust and engaging entertainment experience. That's how my kids play games. When they're at home, they don't really play games on their desktops or tablets. They play games on the projection TV."

In the same interview Zelnick offered only uncommitted support for the Wii U but did confirm that, "you will see future Duke [Nukem] IP coming from this company."

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Latest comments (6)

I agree. Depending on how deep the game is and what kind of production values are behind it, there's no reason it shouldn't have higher price tag too. Maybe not as high as average console title but certainly higher than average phone title.
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Lukasz Pawelczyk Programmer 7 years ago
I agree as well. Truth told I'd like to see some long quality games on pads. More of a normal PC/console type game than phone one. And the price tag would obviously be higher for such a game.
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Andrew Whitehead Journalist 7 years ago
You can agree all you want. People won't pay. That's why Apple has the "Top Grossing" section, because the more expensive games can't compete with the sales of cheaper games. They make a $40 Duke Nukem game, somebody will make an equally as good first-person shoot and charge a third of the price.

It's like trying to double the price of current boxed retail games. The market is set in it's ways. I know I am. This just won't work.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game7 years ago
I think I agree eith Andrew Whitehead. I say think, I don't own a tablet, so I can only equate it to a smartphone, and although the tablets may have bigger screens and be more powerful, I'm not convinced the market is that different. When it was launched I think a few people tried more expensive games, but it seems the majority have settled slightly higher than iPhone games. The controls lend themselves well to mes around for a bit casual titles, or interesting quirky indie stuff, but try to release $40 games, you'll probably find people would probably prefer to put that money down on an Xbox/PS3/PC title, or possibly a PSP/DS one. Anyone with an iPad who doesn't have a console at least has a PC/mac to sync it with, and if that's not good enough to play games, and iPad is their only gaming platform, they really are unlikely to be looking for premium games in the first place.
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Daniel Chisholm Director, Gaikai Inc.6 years ago
As with any disruptive revenue model, the market has to settle. 99 cents was disruptive and yet created content that was nonetheless profitable. There's no market/legal/business requirement that would prevent brick and mortar price points on digitally distributed games.

As tablets improve and support high-end content, content will striate across all price points including $40. It may take 5-6 years for the consumer and the technology to get there, but not every game needs to be 99 cents. Case in point, Bobby Kotick will never offer a one-time purchase of a _full_ COD title for $15 - and the market won't mind paying bigger amounts.

We need to remember the distribution channel is not the same as the content. Tentpoles will always be tentpoles regardless of the medium.

@Andrew Goodchild. All the alternate types of platforms you mentioned will likely be going the way of the dodo in 5-6 years if not sooner. Early market research is already showing this.
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.6 years ago
Daniel, early research is skewed and fails to take into account there are still a large group of people that want the experience found on a dedicated device with dedicated controls. Anybody who bets their farm that the portables and home consoles are gone from the market completely in 5-6 years will find themselves homeless.
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