Better Late Than Never
Take-Two Interactive Software has officially released its earnings for the
fourth quarter of its 2012 fiscal year, along with complete earnings data for
the full fiscal year. Here are five observations that I took from the conference
call and associated data:
While Painful, Were Needed For Quality.
Take-Two CEO and Chairman Strauss Zelnick explained that delays hurt the
company’s bottom line in the 2012 fiscal year, but that those delays are
sometimes necessary for quality reasons. Seeing a game like BioShock Infinite
miss its targeted release and fall out of the Holiday 2012 calendar window
raised a few eyebrows when it was announced recently. The message was pretty
clear to me: The revenue will come for quality releases.
2. MLB 2K No
During the call, references to losses incurred by Take-Two’s licensing
agreement with Major League Baseball were made, along with a note that these
losses would be dropping off once the contract expires. While nothing was
announced during the call or via press release, it seems feasible to assume that
Take-Two may be abandoning MLB going forward. What will be interesting to watch
now is whether Electronic Arts or another publisher steps forward in Take-Two’s
potential absence, or whether a less expensive deal can be brokered between MLB
and Take-Two for future baseball games. At this point, I believe that it’s
possible for the Xbox 360 to not have a baseball game for the 2013 calendar
Edit: It’s been reportedly
confirmed by Kotaku that MLB 2K is finished.
3. Don’t Count
Out Consoles Just Yet.
Despite many analyst questions asking about Take-Two’s apparent hesitation in
jumping on board the mobile and social bandwagon, Take-Two remains committed to
dedicated home consoles and to the physical retail space. 87% of Take-Two’s
revenue in the 2012 fiscal year came from packaged goods. Mr. Zelnick made it
clear that, while there is definite opportunity in the social and mobile spaces,
consoles should not be counted out. There was also some noted resistance against
the “casual” market in some of the executive comments during the
Projections For The 2013 Fiscal Year.
Take-Two expects revenue in the 2013 fiscal year to surge to between $1.75
and $1.85 billion dollars, which is a projection of more than double the revenue
taken in during the 2012 fiscal year. This projection would also move Take-Two
past its earnings in its 2011 fiscal year, which included the highly successful
release of Red Dead Redemption. Take-Two notes that a loss during the first
quarter (April-June) is expected, a return to profitability is due in the
following three quarters.
5. So... What
About Grand Theft Auto V?
This was the obvious elephant in the room, and we still don’t know anything
concrete. Take-Two’s earnings release notes TBA next to the Grand Theft Auto V
listing, but reading between the lines arguably points to a release that could
be sooner rather than later. Looking at confirmed releases for the remainder of
the fiscal year, it would be more realistic for Take-Two to hit its projections
if Grand Theft Auto V ships in the next 4-8 months. Take-Two execs wouldn’t deny
or confirm that Grand Theft Auto V would make it to retail this year, which adds
more intrigue to the story. Mr. Zelnick did say that Take-Two had some
unannounced titles to share in the near-term, so this story still warrants close
This ends the Quarterly Earnings period for Armchair Analysis, but don't
worry - look for some E3 predictions and other content in the next couple of
weeks, leading up to the big event itself in Los Angeles. I’ll be on the show
floor from June 5th-7th, offering impressions, news, and notes from the show
floor and beyond.