The iPhone Gives ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ a Second Chance

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By Ian Sherr

LOS ANGELES—Old is the new cool in videogames.

Videogame titles that once gathered dust on collectors’ shelves have found a new life on mobile devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone, giving companies a cheap way to make money while also helping to promote new software.

It is what Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. did when it was preparing to release the third installment in a popular film-noire series called “Max Payne.” About a month before the new title went on sale, the company released “Max Payne Mobile”—the first game in the series released 11 years ago, reworked to run on smartphones and tablet computers rather than videogame consoles and personal computers.

“It used to be people were skeptical there was any library value at all [to these old games],” said Strauss Zelnick, Take-Two’s chief executive, in an interview at this week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, trade show here.

The company also has released the decade-old “Grand Theft Auto III” for mobile devices, and “Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.” Reselling older games both on mobile devices and traditional videogame consoles and personal computers has become a big business for Take-Two, representing as much as almost a third of the company’s revenue in some quarters.

“If they’re beloved and highly regarded and at the right price, they might be appealing,” Mr. Zelnick said.

 

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(Published June 7, 2012, in The Wall Street Journal.)