Take-Two Games, famed publisher of hit franchises such as Grand Theft Auto and Bioshock, recently announced that several franchises they consider “forever franchises,” will be at this upcoming E3 2016 in a big way. This announcement should not just be exciting for fans of the previously mentioned franchises, but rather video game fans in general should look forward to some of the big guns that Take-Two could whip out this upcoming E3.
First off, my initial reaction to this news story was one of immediate excitement. Final boss fight aside, Bioshock is arguably the best game of the previous console generation, and the Grand Theft Auto series may be one of the most financially successful entertainment properties in the history of the world. Borderlands, Bully, Sid Meier’s Pirates and Civilizations, Agent, various sports franchises such as NBA 2K16, and Red Dead are just some franchises that fall under Take-Two Interactive’s vast and impressive umbrella. Whenever you see the Take-Two logo before a video game, you have a good feeling that it’s going to be pretty good.
I want to get my big prediction out of the way: Agent premieres at Sony’s E3 2016 Press Conference.
There was a rumor floating around various podcasts and streams before PSX this year that Rockstar has been working on The Agent for the PlayStation 4, and planned to premiere it at the fan expo.A trailer was first released for Agent way back in June of 2009 during a Sony E3 Press Conference. The game was being developed for exclusively the PS3, and a press release for the game states will take players into “the world of counter-intelligence, espionage and political assassinations,” set in the 1970s. Time and time again, various members of the games media have asked Take-Two and Sony if the game is still in development. Take-Two confirmed in 2011 that the game is still in active development. In 2013, Take-Two renewed its trademark over the Agent brand, and in the same year Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida commented that he has some knowledge over the existence of Agent, but that he is not allowed to talk about it.
That seems like an odd place for such a big game from a famed developer. Take-Two has confirmed time and time again that the game is still in development, and in 2013 the parent company of Rockstar North, the developer behind Agent, registered two trademarks for the game. It’s been three years since those trademarks have been registered, so they probably have some sort of finished product to reveal. It was originally supposed to be a PlayStation exclusive. Given how committed, and more importantly selective, Sony has been toward its treatment of exclusives, it seems unlikely that they would let this slip to become a multiplatform experience.
Sony also kicked off their PS2 games on PS4 with Grand Theft Auto 3, Vice City, and San Andreas, and this isn’t a small detail, as it resembles a pattern that Sony has repeated several times before. Whenever they are working with a specific developer or publisher, sometimes they release games that have been made by those companies as part of a sale or PS2 classic ports. For example, PlayStation released Dark Cloud and Rogue Galaxy, developed by Level-5, as PS2-PS4 games a few days before they announced Ni No Kuni 2: The Revenant Kingdom, also developed by Level-5. They also did the same thing around the time of Persona 5’s official announcement trailer. After the trailer was announced, Atlus and Sony released Persona 4 as a PS2 classic for the PS3. It seems very likely that GTA VI is a ways off, and Rockstar does owe them an exclusive, so my money’s on Agent making a revamped appearance at Sony’s highly anticipated E3 press conference.
Speaking of Grand Theft Auto, GTA V is one of the most successful video games of all time, and Rockstar continues to pump out updates and DLC for its online component, GTA Online. However, this isn’t the story DLC that many fans of the single player experience are looking for, as many fans of The Ballad of Gay Tony and The Lost and the Damned are looking for GTA V’s equivalent. Maybe it’s time Take-Two decides to bust out some story based DLC? Maybe PS4’s addition of the PS2 GTA games means we’ll get a current gen GTA-period piece spinoff, a non-numbered GTA game focused entirely on a specific era of organized crime. Both would truly spoil gamers, so I’m going to keep it grounded and say we may get one or the other, as story DLC seems much more likely, due to the relevance of GTA V in the sales charts.
Mafia III, which is slated for a release date this year, may be its big reveal. A stylish trailer was released for the game recently, and 2K looks to really push this game as its big fall title. It surely fits the bill, with its open world promise of setting the main character Lincoln Clay loose in 1968 New Orleans after the Vietnam War, but we still don’t know a whole lot about it. Just the promise of the setting alone may be enough to help this game stand out, as open world games are very common now, almost the standard nowadays.
Take-Two is also working with Ken Levine on his new game. Levine, the mastermind behind the original Bioshock, has been teasing his new game for almost three years now. He’s addressed his concerns about narrative structure keeping an audience engaged in today’s day and age, and has teased that it will have a small scale open world. He’s working with a small team of veterans from Irrational Games, and to see Levine return to the main stage of E3 would be one of Take-Two’s biggest guns they could produce.
Consider some of Take-Two’s other “forever franchises:” Borderlands, Bioshock, Red Dead, Sid Meier’s Civilization. I don’t think we’ll see teases from all of these games, but we live in a world where Shenmue III is a thing in development. Randy Pitchford announced in early 2015 that they were just getting ready to begin development on the next full entry of Borderlands. I would personally be disappointed to see a spinoff come from another developer, such as Yager Development, and I think it would be wise for Borderlands to just come back when it’s ready. Red Dead is seemingly going to be worked on by Rockstar North, so it may be a ways off, and I’m not sure if Sid Meier’s Civilization is a game you bring to E3.
That leaves the Bioshock franchise.
Bioshock Infinite came out in January 2013, to critical and commercial acclaim after a long development cycle. Irrational Games is now closed, but Take-Two has stated several times in the past that they have no intention of retiring the franchise just yet. While many think Bioshock is a franchise that has the same weight as Mass Effect, GTA, Red Dead, Fallout, etc., I have to disagree. All of those games still have the developers that made their games a hit. Irrational Games is gone. Those employees have moved on to different projects. I think Bioshock has to be gradually reintroduced into the mainstream games industry, and that’s why I think Take-Two will try to tease the game and convince general audiences that whichever developer they’ve tapped to carry the torch will be up to the task.
I’d love for Take-Two to have a press conference to announce and address all these projects, by the way. I think it would really remind their competing publishers how successful they are with their consumer friendly development practices. Their games don’t have long marketing tails, their portfolio is diverse enough while appealing to modern gaming appetites, and their big franchises all make a ton of money. It would really shake things up a year after Bethesda’s Fallout 4 reveal did such.
Get pumped, readers, because Take-Two’s big guns are sure to have a little something for everyone.
Liam Crossey is the Executive Editor of Features for The Game Bolt. Follow him on Twitter for too many retweets.