UnShocked: Evolve Will Be A “Permanent” Franchise

Rumblings in the towers of Take-Two have gotten me wondering about the status of the BioShock franchise. GameSpot are reporting the publisher’s CEO and potential movie villain Strauss Zelnick calling the series “really important” to Take-Two at a recent conference. According to Zelnick, it’s so far sold a whopping 25 million units, 11 million of which were BioShock Infinite.

Zelnick has previously referred to this as one of Take-Two’s “permanent” franchises, alongside Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, Civilization and Borderlands. But things have so far been quiet. No future full-releases have been publicly confirmed for the series – Zelnick notes he has no announcements to make of BioShock’s whereabouts. Likewise, Irrational Games are but a memory. Ken Levine is working on something about blocks or something.

But I find the business model is fascinating. Take-Two appear to be building their own personal McBusted, an all-star lineup of proven franchises whose universes will form the basis of every commercially successful video game for centuries to come. It’s like game publishing by way of Herbert’s Kwisatz Haderach; a breeding program designed to eliminate the genetic defects that games commercial flops. I can only assume the ofice HQ is a fortress inside of a mountain.

The company are now turning their attention to Evolve [official site], which Zelnick has similarly described as “an important franchise for us.”

This has joined the ranks of the publisher’s other permanent franchises, he continues. Although, Evolve’s future sounds as if it’s going to be less multiplayer-centric, strangely.

“As you know, Evolve is very multiplayer focused, and that’s worked for people – we’ve had something like 27 million game sessions played. And we’ve sold-in over 2.5 million units. We’re really happy with where it’s going. It isn’t 10 million units… yet. But it is an important franchise for us.

“I think we come out of that experience reminding ourselves we have to have a strong single-player opportunity. But we knew that about Evolve. We think we’ve developed another permanent IP. But if there were something lacking, I would say it would be that it was probably a bit too multiplayer-focused, which we knew all along.”

The company has, however, yet to announce concrete plans for the future. Maybe E3, eh?

30 Comments

  1. SupahSpankeh says:

    Wait, dismal performance of Evolve was due to the absence of single player mode?

    Wow. I’ve heard of upper echelons having difficulty understanding low level stuff, but this is remarkable.

    How about the DLC and pricing which was an insult to the customers? The flat and limited replayability? The limited map selection? The skewed nature which meant it was nonviable as an esport or competitive multiplayer?

    Good grief. Wake up and smell the mess you made.

    • Xocrates says:

      They may not be wrong though.

      Every time someone says that single player in a multiplayer game isn’t needed, I’m reminded of the news that over 70% of Demigod players didn’t even TRY to play multiplayer ( link to rockpapershotgun.com )

      And even today, I would expect may CoD players would only play the single player.

      The change would not “fix” the game’s problems, but it would likely mean the game would have a larger audience and longer shelf life since it’s not longer reliant on the volatile audience of just the multiplayer aspect.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Also the Section 8 games had a mediocre campaign just to satisfy the SP requirement that people seem to have. I think it worked somewhat for Prejudice, it didn’t seem to sink as fast as other smaller MP games. A lot of people will balk at purchasing an MP/botmatch-only game even if the SP component is vestigial and they ultimately find themselves playing MP or with bots instead.

        • Baines says:

          I cannot help but believe that if Section 8 had a real single player campaign, it would have sold more copies and had a healthier multiplayer life. Even people who aren’t interested in single player benefit.

      • SupahSpankeh says:

        I guess it depends what you’re trying to do. If you want persistent low volume sales post-launch, then yeah, single player is a great way to keep those sales coming in.

        However, if you want a competitive esports sort of thing, then the multiplayer component has to be deep, well designed and priced correctly.

        I suspect they were more interested in the latter, especially given the prelaunch chatter from the devs.

        • Xocrates says:

          True, this was the publishers talking however, which can give rise to a lot of speculation regarding what the devs wanted, what the publishers wanted, what compromises were made, and what conclusions were reached post-launch.

          Frankly, this may be as simple as they realizing the format doesn’t work as an esport and deciding to give a larger focus to SP instead.

    • Asurmen says:

      Only you str saying anything about dismal performance.

      • SupahSpankeh says:

        Not just me. Have a look on steamspy. That’s not a healthy game. And 2.5m units across all platforms is not a succcess, especially given the investment.

  2. Greg Wild says:

    I’m a little amazed it’s been successful enough to warrant another game.

    I intend to get it at some point, but not at the price point they’ve had so far.

  3. padger says:

    It had a great logo, though. Shame to waste that.

  4. Janichsan says:

    Red Dead Redemption is a permanent franchise? Then where are the new games in that series?

    • snugglez says:

      Yeah I can’t tell what the hell “permanent” means in this context. Likely just mystifying marketing mumbo-jumbo.

  5. Dale Winton says:

    it evolved into a cash grab so nobody bought it

    • BobbyDylan says:

      This.

    • melnificent says:

      So much this. Every time it appears in a sale I think about how much it will actually cost to play. So much locked away content in a paid for game.

      Let’s not forget the dlc being announced before the game either.

      • welverin says:

        What on Earth are you talking about? So much locked away content?

        There are four additional hunters and one monster beyond the twelve hunters and three monsters in the base game. That’s hardly a lot to miss out on if you choose not to buy it and little different from the story content for something like Skyrim or Borderlands. All other paid DLC is cosmetic and easily ignorable (which I have done).

        They have said all new maps and modes will be free, and they’ve stuck to that so far.

        Since you’re probably also unaware of this, you can play with and against anyone who owns the dlc characters, you cna even choose to play against them in solo mode. If someone you’re playing with is using a character you don’t leaves the game you can even switch to it and finish out the match as them.

  6. KDR_11k says:

    Now that makes me wonder what the best villain names of the games industry are. The only one I can think of is Dr. Hazard (developer of Achron). Rob Fearon sounds like the civil name of someone who turns into a super villain.

  7. Allenomura says:

    Pinch of salt: Deployed as a result of this: “And we’ve sold-in over 2.5 million units.”…and, how many sold through; AND, at what price? (I’ve seen hefty discounts for that game, including the glob of various extra bits editions) The absence of that only gives me pause to ask what went wrong…

  8. Jason Moyer says:

    Good to hear they’re going to turn it into a franchise. I was worried that I would be unable to purchase an identical experience over and over every year or two.

  9. Ferno says:

    Evolve actually has a pretty dedicated (if small) fan base on their official forums and have regular tournaments started up. The devs have been extremely communicative and friendly on there too, putting out a lot of stats from the game and discussing balancing. Well worth a look, the people are TRS are really great guys. It’s just such a shame that the game was pretty handicapped by the awful marketing and pricing system for it. I still play it a few times a week and really enjoy myself. It’s a great game just limited in the way it was presented. 2.5 million isn’t all that bad for a new IP. It did better than isolation (which did 2 mil iirc? Also a shame if people look badly on that). I’d actually be interested in some more SP content for evolve as the writer for the game did a great job exploring the universe purely with titbits in conversations and stories released on the forum.

  10. dorobo says:

    Permanent IP sounds so nasty and impure. Grab grab cash cash make make same same crap crap…

  11. Arithon says:

    I played the open beta of Evolve and it ran fairly poorly on my PC (Core i7 with 8GB+GTX660) and the game felt rather like a lackluster console port.
    It didn’t have the instant grab that L4D created and it felt like it would have very little replay value. Too many other better games to play.
    Shame really, I had high hopes.

    • welverin says:

      The released game runs much better than the alpha and beta did, which should not be a surprise.

  12. Sidewinder says:

    You and I have very different definiotns of “Kwisatz Haderach”, Emily- keeping a stable of IPs and giving them each yearly iterations is exactly what EA’s doing- and exactly (among other things) what we decry them for. This is not a good thing.

  13. whydidyoumakemeregister says:

    Very odd to mention Evolve in the headline and then talk about Bioshock for the first three paragraphs.

  14. voodoo child says:

    Am I the only one thinking that a Shadow of the Colossus-esque single player campaign for a game like Evolve could be really neat?

  15. Cantisque says:

    I totally forgot this game even existed, which is shocking considering the hype it got before launch and the fact that it’s not really been out all that long.

  16. TheWackyWombat says:

    I don’t know why they would be proud of 27 million games played across 2.5 million accounts; An average of 10 games per account in an arena combat game is abysmal. They were proud of the fact that around 6 million games were played in the first week, they should be looking more at how fast people abandoned the game then the sales.

    If take-two had bothered to sell Evolve at a proper price, it was a $20 game despite the graphics, and not tried to sell the DLC at an inflated level, the game might be healthy today. As is, they’ve probably already killed the franchise for most people.

    Hype sold the first game for them, even if the sequels are amazing I doubt they’ll see those sales again.

  17. piccolo113 says:

    So, wait a second….They think Evolve has been successful? I mean, sure, 2.5 million games sold is pretty big, but this is a match-based multiplayer shooter that has next to nobody playing it.

    2,500,000 units sold, with 27,000,000 matches played. That’s 236,842 matches per day….which is 9.47% of the player-base even playing the game a day. I’m no business genius, but that sounds like a massive failure in terms of reception and retention of players.

    Also, they built the game as a DLC-hub. If less than 10% are playing the game, likely even less than that are purchasing DLC….which makes it a business failure as well, no?