Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. is the parent company of Rockstar Games, the developers of Red Dead Redemption 2 as well as other Red Dead titles, and a number of other popular franchises such as Grand Theft Auto. Besides Rockstar Games, Take-Two's other subsidiaries include 2K, Private Division, Social Point and NBA 2K League.
Take-Two was founded in 1993, went public in 1997 and acquired DMA Design and BMG Interactive - which would later coalesce into Rockstar Games - in 1998. Based in New York, USA, Take-Two is a public holding company that, as of March 2018, is the third largest such company in the gaming industry falling behind only Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts.
Ryan Brandt founded Take-Two Interactive on the 30th of September, 1993 with the intention of becoming a leading publisher in the video game industry. Initially, the company developed games directly and had other entities publish these titles. Early Take-Two games included a number of story-driven games that featured FMV, as well as the legendary Master of Orion space strategy game.
In 1996 Take-Two made its first acquisition, Mission Studios. This, coupled with a publishing deal made with Acclaim Games and a license to publish titles on the PlayStation led to continued successes which would bring in enough revenue to warrant expansion. The next year, the company appeared on the NASDAQ stock exchange for the first time under the ticker TTWO. The IPO earned Take-Two $6.5 Million with additional sources funding them with further $4 Million.
In that same year, DMA Design released a game called Grand Theft Auto. While a critical success, GTA didn't make major waves in terms of sales and drew significant controversy. Nonetheless, Brandt saw a great deal of potential in the IP. In 1998 the company moved to acquire BMG Interactive, and through it, DMA Design. While this acquisition was underway, Brandt contacted the Houser brothers, Terry Donovan and Jamie King with the proposal to have them found what would be the first "publishing label" model under Take-Two.
Rockstar Games & SEC Investigation
In 1998, Rockstar Games was created as Take-Two's first label. DMA Design itself was only acquired in 1999, which would then become the main branch of the new label as Rockstar North. In the following years, the Grand Theft Auto franchise grew to become a global phenomenon, courting both success and controversy.
In 2005, the 2K Games label was established, which alongside Rockstar remains one of the two main Take-Two labels to this day. Throughout 2005 a number of major developer acquisitions took place, most of which were incorporated into the ever-growing 2K label.
In the same year the company and founder Ryan Brandt came under SEC scrutiny due to complaints filed in 2001. The investigation found that the company had attempted to artificially increase earnings in order to attract investors, totalling in a fraud worth an estimated $60 Million. A fine of $7.5 Million was subsequently paid, however issues regarding Brandt personally forced him to step down, pay fines and be barred from holding any officer position in any publicly traded company.
In 2007 the SEC investigation and controversy around GTA San Andreas - due to the infamous "Hot Coffee" mod - led the investors to consider a takeover. 46% of the stock was held between 5 groups, including Zelnick Media headed by Strauss Zelnick. These five decided to go forward with the takeover, with the intent to put Zelnick at the head of Take-Two. Then-CEO Paul Eibeler tried to find buyers for the company before the takeover was finalized but failed.
The takeover resulted in a major restructuring both in the US and Europe, and led to the laying off of 5%-15% of the company's employees. The next year EA Games made an offer to purchase Take-Two Interactive at a significant premium, which it increased following a rejection, but also refused a second time. It was revealed that in 2007 Eibeler approached EA while looking for buyers, but no deal was reached.
In the years since the takeover, Take-Two Interactive has grown significantly. Rockstar Games released record-setting hits like Grand Theft Auto 4, Grand Theft Auto 5, Red Dead Redemption and most recently Red Dead Redemption 2. The 2K label kept growing, and the company made moves on the mobile industry by acquiring Social Point.
In 2017, a new publishing label was created - Private Division. Private Division is aimed at providing publishing and funding for promising indie projects.
Take-Two's general business philosophies are easily recognized in the patterns emerging in their titles, as well as thanks to Strauss Zelnick's frequent interview appearances where he discusses this topic. In general, the company avoids annual releases within IP, excluding sports franchises in order to avoid franchise fatigue. Take-Two doesn't mind developers delaying projects in favor of further improvement and polish, stating that quality is the most important factor.
In terms of monetization, DLC and microtransactions are common, which are called "recurring spending opportunities" in business lingo. A large chunk of Take-Two's revenue in the late 2010's can be attributed to in-game purchases.
- Rockstar Games
- 2K Sports
- 2K Games
- 2K Play
- Private Division