Microtransactions in games like Grand Theft Auto Online have become big business for video game publishers. And it’s likely this won’t be changing anytime soon. New details spotted in a recent contract extension for Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick explain that the CEO will earn a big bonus if more players spend more money buying in-game items, coins, and skins.
As reported by Axios, a new contract extension for Zelnick means the 64-year-old CEO will continue running Take-Two until 2029. It also lays out how the executive will benefit greatly if games like GTA Online, NBA 2K, and Borderlands get players to spend extra cash on in-game items, referred to in the contract as “recurrent consumer spending” or RCS items. These items are defined by Take-Two’s contract as digital add-on content, in-game items, and virtual currency.
Zelnick could earn millions in stock bonuses if the company and its studios sell enough RCS items to either meet or exceed certain thresholds listed in the contract. Based on financial records, in 2021 Take-Two earned over $1.65 billion from April to December on only microtransactions. In that same span of time, full game purchases brought in only around $890 million. So it’s clear that Take-Two sees MTX purchases like skins and battle passes as an important way to bring in more revenue.
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And while this isn’t Zelnick’s first contract to award a potentially large stock bonus for selling more in-game items, the CEO’s performance is now more affected by MTX purchases than before. It’s yet another sign that Take-Two is heavily invested in microtransactions inside its biggest, most popular games.
Kotaku contacted Take-Two asking about the new contract and its bonuses.
It should be noted that CEO performance bonuses and incentives are a common part of contracts for such high-profile and large companies. And Zelnick’s contract extension also lists even larger bonuses if Take-Two’s NASDAQ stock prices go up in the future. So it’s not as if his only concern as the CEO is to make sure you and your friends purchase even more Shark Cards in GTA Online. However, it’s still notable that in-game microtransactions continue to grow and have since seemingly become the dominant way some big publishers are making money in 2022.