Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick is on board with Sony’s approach to its revamped PS Plus, reiterating that he believes subscriptions are better off focusing on catalogues rather than day one releases, because “we can't afford to turn our business upside down in a way that doesn't make sense economically”. He added that his company has supported various subscriptions in the past with legacy content, and he’s happy to do so where it makes sense.
“Our scepticism has been around making frontline console products available day and date with subscription,” he told Games Industry. “That doesn't make any sense to us, because economically speaking, we don't think consumers are prepared to pay for that. And we can't afford to turn our business upside down in a way that doesn't make sense economically. There always has to be an intersection between what the consumer wants and what the publisher is able to do. And you know, it doesn't make sense to do that for our properties. That's our opinion, and I think Sony agrees with us, because it said so.”
As alluded to above, Zelnick believes subscriptions can still be great for catalogue content: “It can potentially be great for catalogue properties, sales of properties that have been in the market for a while and their price has been reduced. It can make economic sense to offer those on a subscription basis.”
He continued that he doesn’t believe that subscription services will appeal beyond a very specific subset of enthusiast gamers: “People in [the United States], households, consume 150 hours of linear programming [television or movies] a month. That's over 100 properties. [You can] fill that need with two or three subscription services. That's a very good deal compared to buying a la carte or even compared to prior cable packages.
“But interactive entertainment is consumed at a different level, about 45 hours a month and in a different way. It's perhaps two or three or four properties in a month. It's certainly not over 100 properties. So it's not clear that your broad based audience wants access to many hundreds of games in a month and is willing to pay for them. It is possible that a small subset of the audience wants that, but I don't think it's a broad base, because it's not how people tend to consume interactive entertainment.”
Zelnick did caution that he “could be completely wrong, which is totally fine” – but as the executive of a major publisher, his opinion is at least worth listening to. Of course, his outlook will be influenced by the fact that his company produces juggernaut titles, like Grand Theft Auto and NBA 2K22 – games which sell millions upon millions of copies, full-price, at launch.
Still, he concluded: “This company does not operate based on one person's opinions, including mine. And when it makes sense, we support subscription services and if that's where the consumer wants to be, that's where we'll be.”