What we heard: During a presentation to analysts in March 2004, then-Take-Two CEO Jeffrey L. Lapin lamented “poor” sales of Max Payne 2, blaming them for his company’s lackluster earnings. He then promptly announced his company’s intention to make another installment in the series. “There’ll be another Max Payne,” he told attendees of the 17th Annual Bear Stearns Media, Entertainment and Information Conference. “I think we’ll take a few years to make the next one that much more spectacular is what we have to do. But it’s clearly a brand that everybody knows.”
Since then, a few years–four, to be exact–have passed. During that time, Take-Two released the best-selling game in its history, endured a massive scandal, saw a stockolder revolt, and became the subject of a takeover bid by Electronic Arts. After Original Max Payne developer Remedy began work on the 360 and PC title Alan Wake–which has been almost as elusive as the next Max Payne game.
After a prolonged silence, Take-Two name-checked the series again during an earnings call on September 11, 2007. “In addition to Grand Theft Auto, our roster of million-plus-selling, wholly-owned brands includes BioShock, Civilization, Midnight Club, Max Payne, Red Dead Revolver, Manhunt and Bully,” CEO Ben Feder said. “We fully intend to leverage these products, which are on development cycles that should complement and counterbalance each other.” (Emphasis added.)
Nor did the publisher’s deliberate ambiguity stop an analyst from asking CEO Straus Zelnick about the game in a postearnings conference call today. When asked directly about when the Max Payne–which is currently being adapted into a film–would reappear in game form, Zelnick dodged the question–but also left a tantalizing hint. “In terms of Max Payne, we will sell no wine before its time. It’s a little early to comment on any particular title,” he said. “But we have a lot of interesting things going on.”
The official story: Given Rockstar Games’ semiautonomous nature inside Take-Two’s corporate structure, Take-Two reps passed along GameSpot’s inquires to the New York-based publisher, which had closed for the day. However, it’s worth noting that in the same phone call, Zelnick promised “sequels to some of Rockstar’s AAA titles” were set for Take-Two’s 2009 financial year, which begins on November 1–leading many to speculate Max Payne 3 could be among them.
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus that Max Payne 3 has been announced for 2009. However, the fact Take-Two has repeatedly said there will be a new installment in the Max Payne franchise makes it seem like there will almost certainly be one…eventually.