Take-Two CEO says AI-created hit games are a fantasy: 'Genius is the domain of human beings and I believe will stay that way'

Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick
(Image credit: Bloomberg)

Take Two recently released its results for the financial year ending March 31, and what got everyone excited was not the hugely impressive $5.3 billion in net bookings, but its own prediction of $8 billion in the financial year 2025 (which starts in April 2024, thanks accountants). "Several groundbreaking titles" will apparently be the near-$3 billion difference makers, one of which may be Ken Levine's Judas, but of course what everyone's wondering is whether this is the first sniff of a GTA 6 release window.

After the results there was an investor Q&A during which Take-Two's CEO Strauss Zelnick fielded a bunch of mostly operational questions (shareholders don't tend to ask if GTA 6 will feature a co-op campaign). One of these questions was about the emergence of AI tools of various stripes, and how Take-Two was planning to incorporate them into its development pipelines.

"As you know I'm usually a sceptic when others engage in hyperbole, [but] in the case of AI I'm pretty enthusiastic," said Zelnick. "First of all despite the fact artificial intelligence is an oxymoron, as is machine learning, this company's been involved in those activities, no matter what words you use to describe them, for its entire history and we're a leader in that space."

I'm here for Zelnick's pedantry about the terminology, because he's absolutely bang-on. "While the most recent developments in AI are surprising and exciting to many," said Zelnick, "they're exciting to us but not at all surprising. Our view is that AI will allow us to do a better job and to do a more efficient job, you're talking about tools and they are simply better and more effective tools."

Perhaps the most important element of the answer, however, relates to something implicit in the question, which is the unrealistic expectations some have for what this technology will be able to do. Is it conceivable for example that some way down the line we see a Grand Theft Auto title that is majority AI-made?

"I wish I could say that the advances in AI will make it easier to create hits, obviously it won't," said Zelnick. "Hits are created by genius. And data sets plus compute plus large language models does not equal genius. Genius is the domain of human beings and I believe will stay that way."

The CEO ended his answer by returning to the idea of jobs being made "a whole lot easier and more efficient by developments in AI" but his point is pretty clear. Zelnick regards these technologies as tools that Take-Two can use to improve certain areas of how it works, and doesn't seem to think they should be considered as potential sources of creativity, or genius, or however one wants to slice it. "Genius is the domain of human beings and I believe will stay that way" is a great counter to some of the wilder predictions you see about just what this stuff will be capable of.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."