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Warner Bros. Plans To Double Down On Free-To-Play And Live Service Games

It says AAA is "very volatile."

Speaking at a recent Morgan Stanley conference, Warner Bros. Discovery’s president of streaming and games, J.B. Perrette spoke to the company’s plans going forward, and one major point brought up concerns its gaming business and how it plans to expand and leverage its stable of IP.

Despite the poor performance of the recent Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League (of the company’s own admission) and despite the huge success of its major single-player releases last year, WB is apparently going ahead with doubling down on its live service focus, saying it’s looking at its major franchises like Mortal Kombat, Game of Thrones and DC, and towards growing in the mobile and multiplatform free-to-play live service space.

“We’re doubling down on games as an area where we think there is a lot more growth opportunity that we can tap into with the IP that we have, and some of the capabilities on the studio side, where we’re uniquely positioned as both a publisher and developer of games,” Perrette says in the conference.

The challenge we’ve had is our business historically there has been very, AAA console space. And as you know, that’s a great business. When you have a hit like Harry Potter, it makes the year look amazing. And then, you know, when you don’t have a release or unfortunately, we also have disappointments – we just released Suicide Squad this quarter which was not as strong – it just makes it very volatile.

“But the opportunity is to take those 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 much better and more consistent revenue,” the CEO told attendees.

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“You’ll see us launching later this year, some mobile free-to-play games, which we hope to start building that and then secondarily live services. So, rather than just launching a one-and-done game, how do we develop a game around, for example, Hogwart’s Legacy or Harry Potter? That is a live service where people can continue to live and work and build and play in that world on an ongoing basis.”

It certainly sounds like the lacklustre performance of Suicide Squad hasn’t scared WB away from the idea of pushing these kinds of titles, and it’s clear we’ll see more and more attempts to leverage its IP in similar ways.

We gave Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League a 5.5/10 in our review, with James saying, “Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League is a serviceable action game bogged down by an insistence on being a live service title. While the characters are well written and the comedy is on point, a handful of repetitive objective types betray the intentions of an otherwise strong combat system. There is potential here – perhaps over time, Suicide Squad can evolve into something better – but for now, it’s something that only absolute diehards will enjoy, and even then, that’s not a guarantee.”