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Kill The Justice League’ Jolt Warner Bros. Awake?

Kill The Justice League’ Jolt Warner Bros. Awake?

While it was extremely clear since launch with dismal reviews and very low playercounts on at least two thirds of its platforms, Warner Bros. has officially said that Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League has not met their sales expectations.

Of note, Warner Bros. is also saying this sets them up for a “tough year” in the gaming realm, compared to last year when Hogwarts Legacy was the best-selling game of the year.

While I’m seeing this come up a lot in discussion of the game, this is one thing that actually cannot be blamed on David Zaslav, or really even Warner Bros. in full. This was in the works long before Zaslav’s tenure and reporting indicates that Rocksteady genuinely did want to make this game. The rumor that WB cancelled a Superman game to force them to make this just isn’t true.

That said, Zaslav has “taken notice” of video games after the success of Hogwarts Legacy, and has stated that he believes that live services are the future to maximize “engagement and longer cycles of monetization.” From November:

“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 put specific capabilities. We are currently under scale and see significant opportunity to generate greater post purchase revenue.”

It feels like the lesson is screaming at them in the face here, and I have to wonder if the complete and utter failure of Suicide Squad is going to jolt Warner Bros. and Zaslav awake. Hogwarts Legacy was a dedicated single player game crafted around making the Harry Potter RPG everyone always wanted. It had no live aspects. It had no monetization outside the purchase price. It may not even get an expansion and will probably go straight into a sequel.

Suicide Squad is the exact opposite of this in every way, and personifies what Zaslav says he wants, but players don’t want. It’s a live service to the point where it couldn’t even finish its campaign story because they needed to chop it up for future seasonal chapters. It sells cosmetics and will continue to sell them indefinitely with only a few earnable in the game itself. It “utilizes” the DC IP that Zaslav deems so valuable, but it resulted in a game starring characters no one was asking to play as, and gave up the idea of a standalone Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman Beyond, etc. single player game that could have moved 10+ million copies easily if it was anywhere near the quality of their Arkham trilogy. Instead, we have a metascore that’s fallen 30 points and a game with 90% fewer players.

I just don’t understand how you look at Hogwarts Legacy and Suicide Squad now and think you need to triple down on the latter path instead of the former. It is much easier to sell players on a 20-50 hour game they can put down and move on from rather than an endlessly monetized live game that requires inordinate amounts of time to keep up with, and is competing against fifty other live games trying to monopolize that same constant playing time. And if it fails, you have already spent tons of money on an extra year plus worth of content no one is going to play, which is what we’re seeing now.

I have zero faith in WB or Zaslav to get this through their heads. I would expect a Hogwarts Legacy sequel to somehow be online and selling $20 wizard robes and having players grind out battle passes with three of their friends playing co-op. Madness, but likely at this point.

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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.

The article was first published here

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