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Warner Bros. Re-Emphasizes Its Focus On Creating Live Service Offerings From Its Biggest IP’s

In 2023, Warner Bros. achieved something that’s not been done for years. It published a game that outsold the annual Call Of Duty release and Grand Theft Auto V.

It was quite the milestone, since the yearly report on what the best selling game in a particular year had become quite stale, being one of the aforementioned two. But Hogwarts Legacy, a single-player, narrative adventure game broke that streak.

In response, Warner Bros. chief executive officer of global streaming and games JB Perrette recently re-emphasized what Warner Bros. president David Zaslav spoke on last November – that WB will focus its efforts to making live service and free-to-play offerings from it’s biggest IP’s, moving away from single-player focused experiences.

During a Morgan Stanley conference, Perrette had this to say on WB’s current strategy. “The majority of our business revolves around four main forms of IP in games, which are all billion-dollar plus businesses themselves.”

“The challenge we’ve had is that our business historically there 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, 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.

We think the opportunity for us, which again, this a multi-year [opportunity] because games is certainly a bit of a long cycle business too, but the opportunity is to take those four franchises and be able to develop a much more holistic approach, particularly around expanding into the mobile and multiplatform free-to-play space, which could give us a much better and consistent set of revenue, and you’ll see us launching later this year some mobile free-to-play games, which we hope will start building that.

And then secondarily live services, so rather than just launching a kind of one and done console game, how do we develop a game around, for example, Hogwarts Legacy or Harry Potter, that is a live service where people can come today and live and work and build and play in that world on an ongoing basis?

And so, we think we’ve got the franchises, we’ve got some of the greatest studio capabilities, and we have a roadmap and a strategic investment plan to try and build out that business, and we think there’s meaningful growth over the course of the next couple of years.”

Those four IP’s have been previously stated as Harry Potter, Mortal Kombat, DC and Game Of Thrones. Again, this focus isn’t a surprise from WB. Zaslav has been talking about this strategy shift for months.

This statement from Perrette also seems to be a peak into what WB is really trying to do. To not just make live service games, but to take any of the four IP’s it is focusing on and make them a platform unto itself, similar to Fortnite or Roblox. “A live service where people can come today and live and work and build and play in that world on an ongoing basis.”

Perrette is right to point out that it’s very difficult to publish something as popular and successful as Hogwarts Legacy every year. But that doesn’t mean live service games and free-to-play offerings are always runaway hits, either.

There’s arguably more competition among big live service games, and while having big, established IP’s like Harry Potter can help something survive longer than a brand new, untested IP, there’s still no guarantee it’ll be a hit.

Suicide Squad is of course it’s own example WB should be learning a lesson from. Specifically in the mobile space, you might remember that the Harry Potter-twist Niantic put on its Pokemon GO mold did not set the world on fire.

There’s a reason no one has yet to make the thing that’ll crush Fortnite or Roblox, because it’s incredibly, incredibly difficult to do. You might even say it’s more difficult than making a successful single-player focused experience.

It’ll be interesting to see how WB and Perrette feel about this current strategy focus in two years time.

Source – [VGC]