There have been a lot of hints lately that the “games as a service” bubble is bursting – Bungie badly missing its Destiny revenue targets, Sony delaying half their live-service titles, Epic admitting they’ve been losing money, to name just a few – but it seems some publishers haven’t got the memo just yet. Case in point, Warner Bros. Discovery recently released their earnings, and CEO David Zaslav says the goal is to double down on GaaS.
“And similar to the leaders in the industry, we’ve led with multiple key franchises, each of which is $1 billion gaming property. Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, DC, which is mainly Batman today, and Mortal Kombat, whose most recent release, Mortal Kombat 1 has sold nearly 3 million copies since its launch in mid-September. So we’ve got the proven IP and franchises, the world class studios and publishing talent and we intend to continue to invest more capital and more resources into the business.
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.”
So yeah, if you were hoping Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League was delayed in order to remove it’s live-service elements, well… keep hoping. Additionally, you can probably expect all sorts of delicious monetization in future WB titles. Case in point, a Monolith Productions job ad for their upcoming Wonder Woman game lists “helping maintain a live software product or game” as an important skill. On the plus side, the ad also reconfirms the Nemesis system will be returning.
The games industry moves slowly, and it’s probably going to take a while before they get this live service stuff – at least the currently-popular approach to it – out of their systems. Hopefully, not too many talented developers end up wasting their efforts on a dying model in the meantime, but I’m afraid that may be the case with WB Interactive.