Take-Two CEO: Video Games' Pandemic Boost a 'Permanent Shift'

Take-Two's CEO is bullish on gaming in a post-pandemic world.
Take-Two's CEO is bullish on gaming in a post-pandemic world. / Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick believes the huge boost in sales and revenue that the video games industry enjoyed during the COVID-19 pandemic represents a "permanent shift" in the business.

"Interactive entertainment is now the number one entertainment vertical in terms of revenue, and I guess people still don't fully realize that," Zelnick told GamesIndustry.biz. "And a good deal of that growth was driven by people either discovering or rediscovering interactive entertainment and its social aspects during the pandemic. And what we've found is that while certain trends should be expected to moderate, that shift is permanent."

Zelnick's comments come on the heels of a Take-Two yearly earnings call in which the publisher described the surge in video games spending as a "transformational shift in entertainment consumption," which Zelnick justifies by referring to the social aspects of many of the most popular games.

As important as great graphics and stories are, Zelnick says what's most important is "while you're playing, you can hang out with your friends all around the world. You can create new friends and be part of new or existing communities. You can have shared experiences. You can talk to each other."

"We as consumers, all of us enjoy shared entertainment experiences," he continued.

"We're not looking for a solitary experience, and interactive entertainment is the definition of a shared experience, particularly with what technology allows us to do today."

Zelnick expressed interest in bringing some Take-Two IP to mobile games, but didn't confirm anything currently in the works. He also shared that he doesn't expect the verdict in the lawsuit between Epic Games and Apple to affect Take-Two much.

"We are direct-to-consumer, as are our competitors. There are numerous ways to get to market, and we like to meet consumers where they are. My prediction is one way or another, where this lands is with lower take rates [from platform holders]. And that will benefit companies like ours, as it should. We create the material."