The Xbox-exclusive episodic expansions to Grand Theft Auto IV received positive reviews (including from us), but one of the heads of GTA publisher Take-Two Interactive indicated yesterday some disappointment with their performance.
"Both we and [Xbox-maker] Microsoft believe there was a big market for GTA IV episodic content," company CEO Ben Feder said during a call with investors on Thursday. "And some factors have affected their performance. Both were released significantly after the core unit … GTA IV, which was launched in April of 2008 and therefore weren't able to leverage GTA IV's initial marketing campaign and initial launch fervor."
The Rockstar-developed episodes, The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony, were released in February and October of 2009, respectively. Each cost 1600 points, or $20, at launch, and each included single-player campaigns that lasted more than a dozen hours, along with multiplayer and side content.
Take-Two and Rockstar also released the episodes in October on a standalone disc entitled Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City. Sales figures have not been publicly announced for the Xbox-only disc, though Wedbush Morgan Securities analysts Michael Pachter recently pegged the sales for the disc in its first month on the market at around 100,000 units in the U.S., a far cry from the millions of copies sold of GTA IV.
"Episodes From Liberty City seems to have been most appealing to those who have finished GTA IV and wanted more story and gameplay," Feder said. "Which is a smaller market than initially expected.
Despite the dour analysis, Feder did praise the episodes' critical acclaim and said they were "profitable contributors to the company, so we're pleased with them."
He said he thinks the episodes will do fine long-term. "There's very little precedent for this type of episodic content at the price point that we offered it. And so we're confident that these titles will continue to have a long life, just as we've seen a long life from all of our other prior GTA releases."