I always thought (always until this morning) that Strauss Zelnick, owner of ZelnickMedia and head of Take-Two Interactive, was somewhat more intelligent than other game publisher CEOs. EA’s John Ricitiello and Activision/Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick are imbeciles; everyone knows this. Their behavior and public remarks prove them to be, at the very least, mildly impaired and at worst utterly retarded – when Ricitiello or Kotick speak in public, they make Rick Wagoner’s testimony before Congress compare favorably to Cicero. Zelnick tends to keep his head down. This is not, it transpires, because his head is burdened by an overlarge brain.
Imagine my surprise when Reuters quotes him as saying that we’re not in a financial crisis. He doesn’t like the words “financial” and “crisis.” Maybe he likes them separately, but not together.
I’m no economist, but it’s my understanding, based on the dour intonations of Charlie Gibson, that things are kind of rough, money-wise, not only in the United States but all around the globe. It would seem that some number of people are out of work and some others can’t pay for their houses. Some big companies are doing poorly. And I guess that our nation owes some money. And I heard that maybe more people are on food stamps than any time since the Depression. I could be wrong about all this, because I am not an economist, but I am also not a FUCKING MORON.
Some have claimed – in fact, I think Strauss Zelnick might have claimed – that the videogame industry is “recession-proof,” citing the generally high income of adult gamers and the natural willingness to spend money on escapist entertainments that allow us to forget that the economy is crumbling around us. In some ways this is true. Studies suggest that adult gamers trend toward slightly higher income brackets, and it did take longer for the recession to hit the games industry than it did Hollywood. But videogames are not recession proof. Profits and revenues are down all over, Eidos is on the auction block, Midway just got bought for about the same price as a new school bus, and expected mega-hits are selling only passable numbers. Yet Strauss Zelnick toddles gaily on.
With the PC release of Grand Theft Auto IV apparently riddled with bugs, and with Zelnick himself added to Mad Money’s Wall of Shame for failure to sell the company to EA when he had the chance (it’s actually a good thing that he didn’t – for gamers if not for shareholders), it seems the man would be a little more… reserved.
We will get out of the current not-a-financial-crisis, but for now things seem pretty grim. And no one, not even people who have managed to hold on to their homes and who can afford the odd video game now and then, like it when one-lobed CEOs take time out of swimming in their cash filled jacuzzis and driving their solid gold cars to claim that everything’s peachy. It’s that kind of head in the sand-ism that led to eight years of the previous administration blissfully failing to realize that it was perpetrating the apocalypse. People don’t like it. It makes them angry.