After the painful fall of Suicide Squad, WB is still “all in” with live-service games

The best-selling game of 2023 is WB’s Hogwarts Legacy. However, even though this single-player game sold 22 million copies, the publisher Warner Bros. Discovery remains resolute in shifting focus from single-player AAA console titles to free-to-play games, live-service and for mobile devices. This information comes from the mouth of JB Perrette, head of the game department Warner Bros. Discovery, publicly talked about the company’s upcoming plans.


The challenge we have is that our business in the past… has relied on triple-A console titles or similar, you know, and it works great when you have a huge hit like Harry Potter, making the year impressive,” Perrette said. “And then, when you don’t have a game up to par or are unlucky, we’re also disappointed — we just released Suicide Squad this quarter and not as successful — that makes it very volatile.” Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League released on January 30, and by February 23, CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels stated that the game was “did not meet expectations” during an earnings call.

Perrette said that in the future, the company will still focus more on mobile, live-service and free-to-play titles revolving around “the company’s four major gaming IPs, which are all multi-billion dollar names”. These are Harry Potter, DC, Mortal Kombat and Game of Thrones. The plan to go all-in on genres like live-service echoes a statement from David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery last November, even though reality had just given them a harsh “slap”. Suicide Squad was released and was an unquestionable failure.


While Perrette said that Suicide Squad was partly to blame for the shift in the studio’s strategy around game publishing, that shift seems to have “misunderstood” the reasons for its failure. Suicide Squad is a AAA console game, but it failed because the live-service element was crammed too much into the gameplay and plot. Basically, WB is continuing to bet on what will make Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League fail.

A recent survey shows that there are more than 500 studios making live-service games. Of course, more and more companies want to make money from this lucrative pie. However, it seems like there are fewer and fewer good games in this genre, as most of the live-service games that have been released have not been positively received. The only exception is Helldivers 2, a game revered by players as “the dawn of live-service gaming”. However, Helldivers 2 comes from a small game company, and the live-service part of the game is not at all attractive, something that perhaps the big guys in the industry are not interested in.


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