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'Spec Ops: The Line's' failure to breakout won't curb innovation at Take-Two, COO says

Soldiers walk past a giant pair of eyes in Spec Ops: The Line
Spec Ops: The Line

Take-Two says Spec Ops: The Line's lower-than-anticipated sales won't stop attempts to innovate.

Publisher Take-Two Interactive placed some of the blame on its disappointing quarter on lower-than-anticipated sales of two games: Rockstar's Max Payne 3 and 2K's Spec Ops: The Line. Despite the performance of the latter, a reboot of a long-dormant franchise, Take-Two says it will continue to take chances.

"We will never stop trying to innovate," said Take-Two chief operating officer Karl Slatoff during an investor call. Slatoff was responding to a question about Spec Ops: The Line's "poor performance" and whether it would force the publisher to rethink its approach to greenlighting new projects.

"Spec Ops is an interesting case because it actually reviewed quite well," Slatoff continued. "Most of the critics at least recognize — and there's some variation in the Metacritic scores, of course — but most recognize that Spec Ops was something very different than any other military shooter out there and gave the title kudos for attempting to be different.

"Sometimes that resonates with consumers and sometimes it doesn't."

"If we let one title where innovation didn't create a breakout title for us dictate the way we behave in the future, that would be a huge mistake."

Slatoff called the Yager Developments' game "extremely different with a very, very strong storyline," questioning "Does that ultimately matter in the military shooter genre?"

"It's an interesting case study, but it would never prevent us from taking risks and chances and innovating in the future, because that's the only way we're going to move our company forward creatively. That's how, frankly, we've had success in the past."

Polygon's review of Spec Ops: The Line praises its story for going "so far beyond the jingoistic odes to nebulous war-time duty that it almost seems necessary to play," awarding the game an 8 out of 10.

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