Warner Bros. Is Doubling Down on Live-Service Games Despite Suicide Squad Performance

03/05/2024 04:53 pm EST

Those in charge at Warner Bros. Games are looking to double down on video games in the live-service space despite the underwhelming performance of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. For the most part, WB Games has had a pretty strong past year. This strength was primarily thanks to the massive success of Hogwarts Legacy, which ended up being the highest-selling game for the entirety of 2023. And while one would think that this achievement would prompt WB Games to create more projects in the style of Hogwarts Legacy, it sounds like the opposite is what will be happening. 

In a talk during a Morgan Stanley conference this week, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO of games and streaming JB Perrette opened up about the company's strategy with video games moving forward. Perrette said that in the AAA space, in particular, the market has been quite "volatile." He pointed to the massive sales of Hogwarts Legacy and the lackluster sales for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League to prove this point. As a result of said volatility, Perrette said that Warner Bros. wants to take its four biggest franchises (Harry Potter, Mortal Kombat, DC, and Game of Thrones) and try to create products that would exist in the live-service or free-to-play space. 

"We think the opportunity for us [...] is to take those four franchises and be able to develop a much more holistic approach, particularly around expanding into the mobile and multiplatform free-to-play space, which could give us a much better and consistent set of revenue. And you'll see us launching later this year some mobile free to play games, which we hope will start building that," Perrette said. "So rather than just launching a kind of one-and-done console game, how do we develop a game around, for example, Hogwarts Legacy or Harry Potter, that is a live service where people can come today and live and work and build and play in that world on an ongoing basis? And so, we think we've got the franchises, we've got some of the greatest studio capabilities, and we have a roadmap and a strategic investment plan to try and build out that business, and we think there's meaningful growth over the course of the next couple of years."

On paper, it's easy to see why Perrette and those at Warner Bros. want to have a big live-service hit. Any sort of success on this front would lead to returning profits for WB Games, would could sustain further ventures from the publisher in the years ahead. Despite this, there seems to be a major live-service fatigue at the moment that has led to diminishing returns on a number of recent releases for various publishers. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is one such example of this, as most criticized the game upon its launch this past month for trying to fit into the live-service mold when it didn't need to. 

In the near term, it's known that WB Games is already working on a multiplayer Harry Potter game titled Harry Potter: Quidditch Champions. Based on the sport from the "Wizarding World", Quidditch Champions was announced this past year and continues to be privately playtested. More information on the title is likely to emerge at some point in 2024. 


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