As part of its latest earnings call, Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav has outlined the company’s plans to transform its biggest gaming franchises from traditional console and PC releases into “always on” live service games.
Zaslav made the comments during his opening remarks to investors, in which referred to several of the company’s franchises – Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Batman, and Mortal Kombat – as $1bn gaming properties. Developer NetherRealm’s Mortal Kombat 1, he noted, has sold nearly 3m copies since launching in mid-September this year.
“Our focus,” he continued, “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 monetisation of longer cycles and at higher levels,” he continued. “We are currently under scale and see significant opportunity to generate greater post purchase revenue.”
Warner Bros’ most recent attempt at adapting one of its major franchises into a live service game, the free-to-play Mortal Kombat: Onslaught, launched for iOS and Android at the end of October. Its free-to-play hero fighter, MultiVersus, which featured a huge range of playable characters from across its various franchises, enjoyed significant interest when it launched into open beta last summer, but was pulled offline earlier this year amid dwindling players numbers, with promises of a full release in 2024.
As far as its tentpole console and PC releases go, Rocksteady’s upcoming Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League looks to be Warner Bros’ first serious attempt at introducing live service elements into a AAA game. Notably, however, an extended gameplay showcase back in March was met with a less-than-enthusiastic response from fans, with many lamenting its live service trappings, which include a cosmetics-focused battle pass.
Warner Bros. subsequently announced it would delay the game – which was initially due to arrive in 2022, then May this year – all the way into February 2024. At the time, it said it was pushing back Suicide Squad’s release “to be the best quality experience for players”.