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Take-Two’s executives earn millions in bonuses based on microtransactions

Take-Two laid off employees to save costs, but pays over $70 million to two executives
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Publisher Take-Two Interactive announced layoffs earlier this year with the goal of saving up to $50 million in costs as laid out in an earlier financial report. Strategy game maker Firaxis was one of the studios under Take-Two’s umbrella to let go of some of its people in this context. However, things can’t be that bad for Take-Two according to a new report from Axios based on some documents the company recently disclosed to shareholders.

The documents reveal that CEO Strauss Zelnick and company president Karl Slatoff can expect a payment of $72,350,718 in 2023 – yes, that’s more money than the company stated it needed to save going forward. All that for two people.

Interestingly, a large part of the duo’s payments is specifically tied to how much the company’s games make from microtransactions alongside reaching other earnings targets.

NBA 2K23 Sue Bird.

Take-Two's NBA 2K series is full of predatory microtransaction mechanics.

If you ever wondered why NBA 2K looks more like a casino simulator than a basketball game sometimes and why GTA Online is getting more and more aggressive with pushing players to spend money, then you’ve got your answer right here: The executives very directly benefit from such exploitative mechanics.

According to Axios, Zelnick and Slatoff even entered a new contract with Take-Two last year, which further increased the importance of microtransactions for their compensations. It seems to have worked out well for them so far: Their 2023 earnings will be more than double of those from 2022. Depending on how much players spend in Take-Two’s games for the remainder of the year, these numbers could shoot up even more.

After reporting disappointing financial results last year, Zelnick said in an interview with "When the results are poor, I take personal responsibility for them. Our teams are delivering and over-delivering. They're delivering hits; that's what they're supposed to do. I couldn't be more proud of them. Personally, I have work to do to make sure we run this business efficiently and that we deliver results over time, and that's what I aim to do."