Take-Two Interactive chairman Strauss Zelnick explained why the company just took away what was likely many gamers’ favorite holiday present this year.

Evolve, the most acclaimed game coming out of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) game trade show, has been delayed until February. And speaking on an analyst call today, Zelnick acknowledged the setback of delaying the game from Oct. 21 to Feb. 10. But he said he viewed it as a positive thing that will enable the game to live up to expectations.

“We decided the title deserves more time to be polished to reach an optimal state,” Zelnick said. “Historically, we have always benefited from letting the creative teams have more time. We are very excited about this title. It felt like the right thing.”

Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. The team at Turtle Rock Studios, the developer of Evolve, saw a monster of a deadline running straight at them, and they decided to retreat.

Zelnick also said that Take-Two has often published games outside of the holiday release window. He said February is a good time for Evolve’s release┬ábecause it is not crowded with competition. And in the fall, Take-Two has big titles like Grand Theft Auto V on the PC and next-generation consoles coming.

“I am glad we have Evolve coming in February for any number of reasons,” Zelnick said.

Evolve won more than 50 awards at E3, including Best of Show from the Game Critics Awards. (I voted for Evolve as the top game).

Take-Two is doing pretty well overall. It managed to generate 5 percent revenue growth in its first fiscal quarter ended June 30 even though it didn’t have any major game releases. Zelnick said that revenue from downloadable content (DLC) for Grand Theft Auto Online, the multiplayer component of GTAV, helped in the quarter.

Online play is growing with the NBA2K Online game, launched in partnership with Tencent in China. Civilization Online, which is being designed by online game designer Jake Song and his team at XL Games, is also coming soon as a free-to-play offering in Asia.

Catalog sales carried Take-Two in the quarter, accounting for 55 percent of sales. BioShock Infinite has now sold more than 7 million copies. Borderlands 2 has sold more than 10 million, and Civilization V has now sold more than 6.5 million.