The longtime head of Warner Bros. Games, David Haddad, is feeling good at a crucial moment for his 11-studio team.
Why it’s important: WB Games has had a banner year after an uncharacteristic stretch without a major in-house release since 2020.
- It was also done in the middle of high profile profession and project cutting in another division of the conglomerate Warner Bros. The newly formed Discovery.
- Haddad told Axios the division was profitable, and the team had been well supported, with no layoffs and no projects cut by the new owners.
Details: WB Games’ run of 2022 hits kicks off with April’s Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, which has sold more than any side of Bandai Namco’s Elden Ring. Then came the externally developed July MultiVersusthe best-selling game of the month in the US and a title that just surpassed the 20 million player mark.
- Expected blockbusters still to come include Batman-themed Gotham Knights (October), Hogwarts Legacy (February) and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League (TBD 2023).
- It also has big Harry Potter mobile game published together with Netease on the way this year.
What they say: “One of our superpowers is the power of those 11 studios,” Haddad told Axios during a video call from his corner office overlooking the Warner Bros lot.
- Developer at those studios worked on games during the WB Games quiet period, Haddad said, as he repeatedly emphasized the division-wide push for game quality.
- He attributed the cancellation of the Gotham Knights version for older consoles as well as the recent nine-week delay for Hogwarts Legacy as part of the division’s strategy to provide “the right amount of time to provide the best experience.”
Discovery Factor: Haddad has maintained his position while other Warner leaders have empty following the Discovery deal. He exuded confidence that his team would not suffer a knee injury.
- “I believe, especially going forward, that we have a very important role to play within the company,” he said, describing division-wide opportunities to bring the company’s franchise to people who prefer games to other media.
- Asked if the division would exist for the long term, he said: “Warner Bros. leadership. Discovery has expressed a strong belief in the growth of the gaming business and being part of the company’s overall strategy.”
- Bloomberg and CNBC reports that previous owner AT&T had tried to sell the studio for $4 billion in 2020.
Notes on three of WB Games’ biggest games:
- Haddad frames MultiVersus which can be played for free as a testament to the division’s potential with long-lasting games run as a service. With plans for the roster growing, it could be a crossover-filled Fortnite, though Haddad said the team’s “attention and focus” for roster growth will be on WB Discovery’s existing intellectual property.
- The release is well received Lego Star Wars asked questions about the future of Lego licensing with WB Games. “We’ve been partnering with Lego for a long time and we’re excited to continue that,” Haddad said. It also uses a microscope working conditions at WB’s TT Games studio, which the company says it’s committed to improving.
- Trailer for Hogwarts Legacy has been popular, but some potential players are calling for a boycott of the game, given Harry Potter author JK Rowling comments about transgender people. Bloomberg has reported that game developers have pushed for the inclusion of trans characters into games, and WB Games has previously said Rowling was not “directly involved” with the game. Asked about people who might be avoiding the game to avoid supporting Rowling, Haddad said: “We’re going to stay very focused on the games we make and the great job Avalanche Studios has done.” He added: “We want everyone who loves this world and loves these stories and loves these characters.”
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