After several bumpy attempts to showcase the upcoming Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, Rocksteady and WB Games are once again preparing to talk about their long-in-development squad brawler.
The studio will embark on a new web series this week called Suicide Squad Insider. This isn’t dissimilar to other studios producing behind-the-scenes video docs as part of their marketing strategy — Bungie has been producing BTS ‘vidocs’ since Halo 3 — but it does send a particular message.
Rocksteady had its head down working on Suicide Squad for years after launching Batman: Arkham Knight to immense critical acclaim. Eyebrows were raised when, even after the game’s announcement in 2020, Rocksteady and publisher WB Games stayed quiet about exactly what kind of game it was.
And then, in February this year, Rocksteady dropped a first look at cooperative gameplay, and all suddenly became clear. This was a live-service multiplayer brawler in the vein of Marvel’s Avengers. The community blowback to the trailer was so swift and so forceful that WB Games ordered a fresh delay to make changes. Only half of the community discontent had to do with knowing that Suicide Squad was yet another live service treadmill when Rocksteady’s previous games had been superlative, self-contained single-player experiences. The other half resulted from WB Games and Rocksteady’s intentionally obscuring their live service ambitions until they could no longer hide the truth from the public. It suggests that WB knew players wouldn’t be happy, and tried to avoid owning up for as long as possible.
The hope with this behind-the-scenes web series is to communicate more clearly what the game is. Whether that will turn anyone around on the game remains to be seen.
WB Games stated in its most recent earnings report that it is going all-in on live service titles in the future. The same day that WB Games made this proclamation, PlayStation announced it was delaying its live service ambitions due to a lack of confidence in each game’s individual success. PlayStation’s move comes less than a year after acquiring live service powerhouse Bungie, a studio that has since shed a huge number of staff and revealed that its popular MMO shooter Destiny 2 operates on a financial knife-edge. It would appear that a greater understanding of Bungie’s modus operandi has given Sony a lot to think about.
WB Games now faces a tough question: If Destiny 2, considered the gold standard for building a live-service game, operates with such thin margins that it’s caused PlayStation to flinch, can WB justify what seems like an increasingly risky push? Doubly so when Suicide Squad‘s closest approximation, Marvel’s Avengers, doesn’t even exist anymore?
You catch Suicide Squad Insider on Rocksteady’s YouTube and social media channels starting this week.