According to new documents, GTA, Borderlands, and NBA 2K publisher Take-Two Interactive is paying two of its top execs over $70 million this year, over twice what it paid the same executives last year. And that number could increase next year, as players continue to spend more and more on in-game purchases.
It’s no secret that some video game publishers pay their top executives a lot of money. But in the horrible world of corporate capitalism, numbers can always go up. For example, Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick and President Karl Slatoff were paid a combined $30,040,000 last year. A very large number, sure! But as previously reported, their new contracts were designed to reward them for how well the company performed. A large chunk of that performance-based payout is directly connected to how much money the company is bringing in from “recurrent consumer spending,” aka microtransactions and battle passes. And it turns out, over the last year, a lot of people have spent a lot of money buying shit in various Take-Two-owned video games.
The revelation came about as Take-Two Interactive just released its annual proxy filing to stock owners. And disclosed in the publicly accessible SEC filing (h/t Axios) was the confirmation that over the past year Zelnick and Slatoff were paid a combined (and hard-to-fathom) $72,350,718 via a mix of cash and stock. The top execs are part of their own management company, ZMC. Take-Two pays ZMC that large sum of money and it is split between the two in a contract that Axios points out gives Slatoff no more than 40 percent.
Dig a bit deeper into that massive number and you’ll see that a sizable piece of ZMC’s payday, around $44 million, is directly influenced by Take-Two’s performance. Specifically, nearly 25 percent of that is based on Take-Two expecting an increase in people buying up microtransactions in popular games like NBA 2K23 and GTA Online, as well as Take-Two’s mobile games.
What does this mean? Well, if the two execs lead the company in a way that sees MTX spending increase, their next payday could skyrocket beyond a combined $70 million. But if in-app purchases decrease or fail to grow, they could see a decrease in compensation.
So, with all that in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that practically every Take-Two published game and franchise is filled to the brim with extra ways to buy digital stuff. The people in charge can’t buy more fancy cars and big yachts otherwise, which might explain the slot machines in NBA 2K.