At a point in the industry where we’re seeing more and more “live service” games struggle to find a foothold and even high-profile titles fall out of favour with players, or never even see the light of day, Warner Bros. has seemingly doubled down on its belief that it’s the best use of its world-class IP. CEO of Warner Bros.
Discovery David Zaslav has said as much during a recent investor call, describing the company’s desire to break out of the three-to-four-year AAA release cycle and create more ongoing, multiplatform gameplay that’ll have players’ eyeballs on WB properties for as much of their time as humanly possible.
Zaslav spoke at length about Warner Bros. gaming business and its position as both a publisher and developer, but it’s where he talks to the power of the company’s owned IP and how it wants to leverage that through even more live service offerings that might cause alarm bells to ring for some.
“…we’ve led with multiple key franchises, each of which is $1 billion gaming property,” the CEO emphasises. “Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, DC, which is mainly Batman today, and Mortal Kombat, whose most recent release, Mortal Kombat 1 has sold nearly 3 million copies since its launch in mid-September. So we’ve got the proven IP and franchises, the world class studios and publishing talent and we intend to continue to invest more capital and more resources into the business.
“Our focus is on transforming our biggest franchises from largely console and PC based with three-four year release schedules to include more always on gameplay through live services, multiplatform and free-to-play extensions with the goal to have more players spending more time on more platforms. Ultimately we want to drive engagement and monetization of longer cycles and at higher levels. We have put specific capabilities. We are currently under scale and see significant opportunity to generate greater post purchase revenue.”
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when talking about DC and live service games is the ill-fated Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, which had a major showing backed by PlayStation that immediately drew the ire of fans and saw the game subsequently delayed into early 2024.