Take-Two’s CEO Strauss Zelnick Weighs In On NBA 2K18 MTX Fiasco

Publication site Game Informer had the chance to talk to Take-Two’s CEO Strauss Zelnick about NBA 2K18 microtransaction (or MTX) fiasco at E3 2018. Although the event is over and done with, the publication site just released the interview, and, as per usual, Zelnick has a justification regarding the controversial move.

If you don’t know, last year Take-Two and NBA 2K18 faced an outcry over the egregious MTX model within the game. The company put a plethora of cosmetics behind virtual currency (or VC), and also let gamers pay to increase how they performed in the game.

Something worth mentioning is that a lot of the cosmetics had been free in older games, exposing Take-Two’s initiative to monetizing once free content behind a grind or paywall.

Moreover, discussions among fans of the series and newcomers alike started to weigh whether or not the situation at hand offered a pay-to-win advantage in a competitive game, as the system allowed players to reach level 85 by just paying.

With so much negative speak being conjured up by fans, it was a situation that would not be forgotten, and as such Game Informer caught up with Zelnick at the now ended E3 event, and asked him to weigh in. Here’s what Zelnick had to say:

“Unquestionably we pay attention to consumer response because we’re so focused on engaging and captivating and entertaining the consumer. Any time we get feedback that is anything less than 1,000-percent positive, we stop and say, what should we do differently? I think there’s a small sliver of the consumer base that basically wants everything for free, we can’t really help those people. I think most consumers just want a fair deal and we do think that part of a fair deal is, you know when you get the check at the end of the meal, it’s not enough that the food tasted good, it has to be a fair deal for what you got. So we’re very focused on it being more than a fair deal; we want to give consumers much more than they paid for.”

Zelnick ignores the fact that NBA 2K the series is an annual title that retails for $59.99 at launch, and that fans don’t want everything for free, but as noted above, the fact that stuff that was previously free transitioned to a non-consumer friendly model hidden behind a hard grind or MTX angered fans greatly.

But Zelnick continued and states:

“We do learn every time and we have to balance monetization with the experience. In our case, we sort of all regrouped and said, wait, let’s remind ourselves that we’re in the business of creating the best entertainment on Earth, across all types of entertainment. We’re focused on engaging and captivating consumers. If we do that right and that’s our entire focus, the revenues and the profits will probably take care of themselves, so let’s not overemphasize those. So I’m asking questions now like does big data and having lots of data scientists on your team allow you to enhance your monetization? And the answer is, technically I suppose that would be the case, but are you a monetization company or are you an entertainment company? We’re an entertainment company and when we get that right, everything else flows from it.”

It’s unclear what MTX or service model future games will sport under the Take-Two label, but given that every one of their games from here on out will sport MTX, courtesy of a Gamasutra report, means that yet another fiasco might happen:

“We aim to have recurrent consumer spending opportunities for every title that we put out at this company. It may not always be an online model, it probably won’t always be a virtual currency model, but there will be some ability to engage in an ongoing basis with our titles after release across the board.”


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