David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros Discovery, has recently revealed plans to leverage all of the company’s IP to live service games and monetization.
As reported by Video Games Chronicle, Zaslav made this statement in the company’s latest earnings call:
“Our focus 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 monetization of longer cycles and at higher levels. We have specific capabilities. We are currently under scale and see significant opportunity to generate greater post-purchase revenue.”
Among the games Zaslav named under this plan include Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, DC, and Mortal Kombat.
David Zaslav took over Warner Bros as part of the 2021 merger of WarnerMedia, then owned by AT&T, and Zaslav’s own Discovery. He famously cut down streaming service HBO Max’s content library, for the purpose of avoiding residuals, and using them as tax write-offs.
This plan included cancelling multiple projects in development. It also involved cancelling projects that were already finished and ready to be released, such as the Batgirl reboot. Zaslav also chose to remove many shows that only existed streaming on HBO Max, including popular cartoons like Infinity Train, Summer Camp Island, and 200 episodes of Sesame Street. This decision also led to a loss of $ 25 billion for the company’s market cap.
Zaslav’s newly found confidence in the video game side of Warner Bros comes from the success of two 2023 releases, Hogwarts Legacy and Mortal Kombat 1. While neither game are the best selling or most critically acclaimed titles of the blockbuster year that was 2023, they still generated significant revenue.
We have already seen Warner Bros’ attempts to enter the live service gaming space, and they have not been going very well. We only know of one confirmed live service game from the publisher: Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League.
Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League was originally planned for release on May 26, 2023. However, a particularly poor showing on this February’s State of Play, the company decided to delay the game indefinitely.
Fans hoped that studio Rocksteady would remove the live service game elements. While there are rumors that they will remove certain elements such as the always online requirement, it will reportedly stay a live service game.
The poor fan reception for Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League augurs poorly for Zaslav’s plans, as well as Sony’s decision to cut down on their own live service games. Given Zaslav’s notoriety, he may find ways to justify it when these plans fail and lead to lower revenues for the company.