Take-Two's Zelnick once again plays down cloud gaming hype

Take-Two's Zelnick once again plays down cloud gaming hype

The CEO of Take-Two Strauss Zelnick has once again said that cloud gaming won't have the impact that many in the industry think it will.

Speaking to Protocol, the exec said that the notion that there are people out there who are interested in games but are unwilling to buy a console or PC "doesn't make any sense at all."

"There were some parties who were saying there are 130 [million] to 140 million current-gen consoles out there," Zelnick said.

"There are billions of PCs out there. You know, if you can make in a frictionless way console video games available to everyone who has a PC or a tablet or a phone, then your market size automatically would be 20x just mathematically.

"Of course that doesn't make any sense at all. Because the implication is you are super interested in video games but you were just unwilling to buy a console. I mean, I'm sure there were people like that, but if they are so interested that they want to pay $60 or $70 for a front-line title, it's hard for me to believe they were unwilling to spend $250 on a console to be able to do it ever in their life.

"The second problem is you still have to get into the hands of the consumer. They're beholden to whatever technology exists wherever they live. You may be out on the cloud, but if they're on a phone line, they won't be able to avail themselves of what you're distributing.

"So I suspect it will not be transformative. I'm speaking against my own interests, right? We're supposed to paint this picture of nirvana; however, I just don't think it's nirvana. Nirvana is making great hits, and then people will find them."

This comes in the wake of Google launching its Stadia streaming service – which certainly was an interesting ride – while Microsoft's xCloud is set to go live today (Tuesday, September 15th).

Zelnick has in the past shown restraint around trends that are generating a lot of excitement in the games industry. The Take-Two boss played down the importance of mobile gaming for a long time before the company eventually bought Spanish studio Social Point. Likewise, he said that VR wouldn't be as big as people said the hype dictated. In the past, he has said that Google overpromised with Stadia.

When it comes to streaming and cloud gaming, Zelnick is right that people who are already interested in games likely will buy a console, but much of the argument for this kind of technology has been about opening up the industry to markets where this kind of hardware is not been available or has been prohibitively expensive. These markets – places like India – also are benefitting from the creation of new internet infrastructure, meaning that they will in theory be able to take advantage of the high speeds required for streaming games.

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.