Take-Two CEO says AI will never replace human genius

Strauss Zelnick has spoken about the potential of AI during a recent Take-Two earnings call.
strauss zelnick take two

Amidst the gloom around the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its potential to decimate the jobs market, Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two (parent company of 2K Games, Rockstar Games, and Private Division, Zynga and more) has delivered a refreshing stance on the limitations of the technology – and why it will never truly replace human creativity.

During a recent Take-Two Interactive investor Q&A, following the release of the company’s public financial reports for FY23, Zelnick reportedly fielded questions about Take-Two operations, future plans, and how AI technology will be implemented going forward.

While Zelnick was largely ‘enthusiastic’ about AI, he made clear that advances in the space were not necessarily ground-breaking, and claimed the company was already a leader in technologies like AI and machine learning.

‘Despite the fact artificial intelligence is an oxymoron, as is machine learning, this company’s been involved in those activities, no matter what words you use to describe them, for its entire history and we’re a leader in that space,’ Zelnick explained, per PC Gamer.

In refusing to engage in what he calls ‘hyperbole’, Zelnick makes an important point about the modern use of AI. It has always existed, in some form, and recent developments have only improved its practicality and potential output.

Read: The UK Competition and Markets Authority is investigating AI

‘While the most recent developments in AI are surprising and exciting to many, they’re exciting to us but not at all surprising,’ Zelnick said. ‘Our view is that AI will allow us to do a better job and to do a more efficient job, you’re talking about tools and they are simply better and more effective tools.’

Zelnick believes improvements in AI technologies will allow the company to become more efficient in the long-term, but he rejected the implication that AI technology will make it easier for the company to create better video games – making clear this was strictly the domain of humans.

‘I wish I could say that the advances in AI will make it easier to create hits, obviously it won’t,’ Zelnick said. ‘Hits are created by genius. And data sets plus compute plus large language models does not equal genius. Genius is the domain of human beings and I believe will stay that way.’

This statement, from the CEO of one of the biggest game publishers in the world, is very compelling – and seemingly at-odds with sentiment from other major game companies.

In 2023, Ubisoft announced it would start using an AI writing tool to supplement the creativity of humans. Squanch Games recently implemented AI artwork for background set dressing, and AI voice acting in High On Life. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick recently enthused about the potential of AI to aid creation of new games, like a Guitar Hero reboot.

Despite this excitement, it appears Take-Two, under Zelnick’s leadership, will take a more cautious approach to AI technology. There is hope a firm stance will protect against potential AI-driven job losses.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.