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Warner Bros. Wants To Lean More Into Live Service Games Despite Harry Potter Success

Warner Bros. had the top-selling game last year in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Legacy. It was the first time in over a decade that a game not named Call of Duty, or GTA owned the top spot. But you wouldn’t think the company had this kind of success based on comments from Warner Bros. gaming boss J.B. Perrette at a recent Morgan Stanley event. 

According to Gamespot, Perrette described the AAA gaming market as “volatile” and discussed where the company will go. 

“We’re doubling down on games as an area where we think there is a lot more growth opportunity that we can tap into with the IP that we have and some of the capabilities we have on the studio where we’re uniquely positioned as both a publisher and developer of games.”

These growth opportunities include live service, mobile, and free-to-play games.

Perrette went on to say:

“Rather than just launching a one-and-done console game, how do we develop a game around, for example, a Hogwarts Legacy or Harry Potter, that is a live-service where people can live and work and build and play in that world in an ongoing basis?”

Gaming industry analyst Mat Piscatella pointed out that Hogwarts Legacy is far from a one-and-done game. Not only was it the best-selling game of 2023, but it still sat comfortably in the top 10 as recently as January. 

I get the appeal of live service games. What publisher/developer wouldn’t love constant revenue? But how is that not more volatile than single-player games? How many games have tried to dethrone the likes of Call of Duty and failed? Hell, look at what happened with EA and the Battlefield franchise. 

If anything, the gaming community is telling publishers they are starting to tire of live-service games. The two biggest games of 2024, Palworld and Helldivers 2, are far from what most would consider a live-service game. Sure, Helldivers 2 has Battle Passes – but they aren’t pricey and don’t feed on FOMO. 

You would think the reception to the recent Suicide Squad debacle would give Warner Bros. some pause when it comes to live-service games. Or at least, not want to double down on it. 

We’ll see what Warner Bros. can do. I won’t write them off, not with the IPs they own. But IP can’t carry a game. Not today. Gameplay is king.