Zelnick: Take-Two Experimenting With Microtransactions

Take-Two is keenly interested in moving further into networked gaming, microtransactions and downloadable content, executive chairman Strauss Zelnick said at the Piper Jaffray consumer conference in New York today, where he was touting Take-Two's market positioning to an audience of investors.

Zelnick said the publisher is currently testing in-game ads for its sports titles "pretty aggressively," and is also experimenting with ways to add microtransactions into the mix across its franchises. The idea, said Zelnick, is to "turn packaged goods partially into a subscription business, and drive some of the volatility out." Plain language? Digitally-distributed business models like pay-for-content and subscriptions are less risky than the $60 retail box.

"If we can get a good model for episodic content for high quality titles, that should be a pretty profitable business because there are no hard goods associated with it," Zelnick said.

Microtransactions work, said Zelnick, when it's something of value to the consumer. "You can't pull content out of a console game and the sell it to people later; it's not a good experience," he said, perhaps subtly digging his competition's recent controversy.

A natural extension of a property might be a better idea, he said - like letting players "change the way characters look, [add] weapons, cars and the like."