While the games industry has long been headed towards a digital future, the very beginnings of the coronavirus pandemic has shown us what that might look like.
Take-Two’s Q4 and full-year figures are in, running up to the 31st of March. And in its final quarter the company reported a 92 per cent digital split in net bookings, which rose by 49 per cent year on year to a grand total of $729m, a record.
Of that 92 per cent, 62 per cent was recurrent spending (that’s everything bar games themselves basically). With NBA 2K20 and GTA Online leading the way, as usual. And for those thinking that’s all thanks to the pandemic, the figures across the year for FY19-20 were almost as heavily weighted. With digital net bookings making up 82 per cent of the total revenue of $2.99bn, slightly up from $2.93bn in FY18-19
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, CEO Strauss Zelnick spoke on both the shift to digital revenues and how that’s been accelerated by the current pandemic.
“A lot of people believe that whatever trends existed before this pandemic will be accelerated by the pandemic. I’ve been saying for a long time that we’re seeing a shift to digital distribution…We do expect the trends to continue, but we don’t expect physical goods to go away. Nor would we like them to go away.
“We do expect the trends to continue, but we don’t expect physical goods to go away. Nor would we like them to go away.”
“…It’s a terrible thing to pat yourself on the back in the face of tragedy. That’s not how we feel. We do think that providing great, at-home entertainment is a service in times like this. We love the fact that you can connect with greater communities and friends all around the world when you’re playing online video games. Was there a push to more at-home entertainment during this time? Absolutely, yes. Did that affect our results positively? Unquestionably.
“I do think, though, you’re going to see that this represents a bit of a sea change, and you’re going to see more of an interest on an ongoing basis in interactive entertainment even as this ends.”
Take-Two also offered some updates on lifetime sales for key titles. Red Dead Redemption 2 has now amassed a hoard of over 31 million units, while the Outer Worlds has done a very respectable 2.5m itself. NBA 2K20 has slam dunked over 12m units. Meanwhile GTA 5 continues to make everyone else look bad with 130m units to date – once again, who doesn’t already own this game!
It looks as those NBA and GTA will have to do the heavy lifting for a while longer as Take Two noted the year to come wouldn’t see many new releases, as its picks its way carefully through the console cycle transition, while awaiting a “more meaningful install base” for the new devices.
“The initial uptake of any new console generation is not immediate,” he said. “I think that our light release schedule is actually well-suited to the year that’s coming. We’re really excited about the consoles, but there is uncertainty, and there’s further uncertainty given the state of the economy that’s been driven by the pandemic. I think that we are in a position of strength in that our offerings will mean we’re going to have a great year.”