You won't find too many exec interviews on Eurogamer - we usually leave that sort of thing to our friends over at GamesIndustry.biz. But we got the opportunity to speak to Ben Feder, CEO of Take-Two, at E3 this year. Seeing as he's a big deal, and his company publishes one of the most successful videogame franchises ever, we thought we'd give it a go. Read on to find out Feder's opinion of Jack Thompson, whether he thinks there's a line to be drawn with violence in games and what day GTA V is out. Maybe not the last one.
Eurogamer: Did you go to the E3 platform-holder conferences?
Ben Feder: Yes.
Eurogamer: Who won?
Ben Feder: Oh, I don't see it as a competition.
Eurogamer: But it sort of is. Everyone else thinks it is, really...
Ben Feder: Well, you can take their temperature if you like! I thought the presentation of the games was terrific. I thought there was some amazing content coming out of first-party and third-party. If I may say, Take-Two's got some amazing content coming up: BioShock 2, Mafia 2... Stunning games.
Eurogamer: There seems to be a renewed focus among the platform holders on exclusivity. What does that mean for third-party publishers?
Ben Feder: Exclusivity works on occasion - when you're launching a new franchise, for example, and you need to get support from first-party. It's one of the reasons we're partnering with Sony on the new Agent title. That helps us get the awareness up and helps us get users engaged. Obviously the trade-off is the installed base of the other platform providers. Sometimes that's a worthwhile trade-off to make.
Eurogamer: What about when it comes to more established franchises, as with the GTA IV DLC deal? Was that a deal you would repeat?
Ben Feder: It is; we're very pleased with the results. We've done a service for gamers by providing the content and we've also learned a little bit about what gamers want with respect to downloadable content. And we've learned how to extend the franchise beyond the initial release. We think episodic content is a viable business model for the long-term.
Eurogamer: Why haven't you released download numbers for The Lost and Damned?
Ben Feder: It's confidential to us and to Microsoft. We typically don't release those types of numbers. Microsoft did agree to say it was the largest download of any single title they've had in the first period in which it was available, so it's been a massive success for them.
At the same time, you do need to be an Xbox Live customer in order to download the game. That's one of the reasons we're releasing The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony on one single disc - to make that product available to all gamers who are interested in Grand Theft Auto episodes, not just Xbox Live Gold users.
Eurogamer: But it's still exclusive to Xbox 360?
Ben Feder: It will still be exclusive to Xbox 360.
Eurogamer: Sometimes there's a bit of confusion about what exclusivity actually means. Take the Fallout 3 DLC, which was announced as an Xbox 360 exclusive but is now coming to PS3. Could you ever see yourself going down that path with the GTA IV episodes?
Ben Feder: We don't really articulate the future of where these could go. When you talk about exclusivity, there's exclusivity forever, then there's something less than forever, and potentially that's what happened with Fallout 3.