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Take Two Interactive CEO: We never expected Grand Theft Auto to be this huge

  • "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer sat down with Take Two Interactive Software CEO Strauss Zelnick for more on the company's top franchises and the growth of esports.
  • Zelnick said management wasn't expecting the success Take Two has seen with its Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online franchises.
  • The CEO also discussed how Take Two will play into the rise of esports.

Take Two Interactive Software Inc. CEO Strauss Zelnick told CNBC on Wednesday that his company wasn't expecting the success it's seen with its latest Grand Theft Auto games.

"It's amazing what's happened with Grand Theft Auto V," Zelnick told "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer. "We've sold in 85 million units and we're having another record year with Grand Theft Auto Online which, as you know, is not our expectation. Four years after initial release, the audience is growing and people love it more than ever."

Take Two, the parent of the wildly popular Red Dead Redemption and NBA2K franchises, has watched its installed user base rise as people spend more time playing video games and continue buying current-generation gaming consoles, Zelnick said.

Currently, there are roughly 90 million current-generation consoles in households around the globe, a number Zelnick said would grow to something like 140 million in the next two years.

And with the average consumer only devoting about an hour and a half of their day to video gaming, Take Two sees bountiful opportunity, the CEO said.

"It's the fastest growing part of the entertainment business. So we think there's a lot of room for growth," Zelnick told Cramer.

Gaming companies are also seeing rapid growth in esports. But unlike other major gaming companies that have poured millions into creating their competitive gaming leagues, Take Two is taking something of a crowd-sourced approach for its NBA game.

"Basically, we have a selection process coming up. You can apply, Jim. And then we'll actually have a draft," Zelnick said. "Anyone can try out. And we will have a very diverse crew of the best gamers on earth playing for 17 teams and we're going to have a season in 2018."

The CEO added that leagues could eventually offer scholarships for top gamers, much like professional entities like the NBA provide scholarships for top players.

"Why would you rule anything out? I don't think there's any difference between playing games professionally and playing a game professionally," Zelnick said.

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