After Suicide Squad ‘Disappoints,’ WB Still Wants More Live-Service Games

After Suicide Squad ‘Disappoints,’ WB Still Wants More Live-Service Games

The best-selling game of 2023 was Hogwarts Legacy. Yet, despite that single-player title selling 22 million copies, publisher Warner Bros. Discovery will be pivoting away from single-player AAA console games and toward free-to-play, live service, and mobile releases. This comes from a Morgan Stanley speaking event at which Warner Bros. Discovery head of gaming J.B. Perrette talked about the company’s plans going forward.

“The challenge we’ve had is that our business historically…has been very triple-A console based and so, as you know, that’s a great business when you have a hit like Harry Potter, it makes the year look amazing,” said Perrette. “And then 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.” Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League released on January 30, and by February 23, CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels was declaring that the game had “fallen short of our expectations” during an earnings call.

Perrette said that going forward the company will focus more on mobile, live-service, and free-to-play titles that revolve around the company’s “four main forms of IP in games, which are all billion-dollar-plus businesses themselves.” These are Harry Potter, DC, Mortal Kombat, and Game of Thrones. This plan to double down on genres like live-service echoes statements from Warner Bros. Discovery’s CEO David Zaslav back in November, though one key thing has changed. Suicide Squad has actually released and been deemed a failure by the company.

While Perrette says that this failure is part of the reason for the pivot in gaming strategy, that shift fails to recognize why Suicide Squad failed. Though Suicide Squad is a AAA console title, it failed due to the live-service corruption that creeped into the otherwise-serviceable third-person action shooter. Warner Bros. is essentially doubling down on the aspect of Suicide Squad that led to its failure. At a time when surveys show that over 500 studios are working on live-service games, it seems less and less likely that every publisher who wants a cut of that sweet, sweet live-service money will be able to deliver a game that actually grips players. The result is likely to be more failed games that fall short of expectations and die within years or even months.

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