Warner Bros wants to make a game that is “a live-service where people can live and work”

warner bros live service harry potter
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In a planned response to a volatile videogame market, Warner Bros has talked about a Harry Potter live-service game where players can spend every waking moment.

Imagine being able to conduct a business meeting from beneath the flickering candles of Hogwarts Castle. Imagine socialising with friends alongside a digital Hagrid or Dobby the House Elf. Imagine being able to immerse yourself in a digital Wizarding World, and never having to face dreary, analogue reality ever again.

Taken at face value, this is roughly the grand vision that JB Perette, Warner Bros Discovery’s CEO and President of Global Streaming and Games, has for his company’s approach to videogames.

It has, as you may have noticed, been a turbulent time for the games industry. People are losing their jobs all over the place, studios are closing, and while Warner Bros has enjoyed some massive hits – Hogwarts Legacy was the best-selling game of 2023 – it’s also endured the expensive disappointment of this winter’s Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League.

In the face of this, Warner Bros is revising its approach to games, and will double down on the production of live-service and free-to-play titles. As reported by Gamespot, JB Perette talked about the plans at a technology conference hosted by Morgan Stanley – the same event where he talked about Warner’s upcoming TV slate including the next series of House Of The Dragon.

“Rather than just launching a one-and-done console game,” Perette reasoned, “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 on an ongoing basis?”

Peretti added that he had a “roadmap and a strategic investment plan” to build games with this in mind.

It’s an interesting conclusion to draw, given that Hogwarts Legacy was a hit single-player RPG; it was Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League – a live-service game that more closely resembles the ‘ongoing’ model Perette describes – that was the “disappointment”, to use his own term.

Elsewhere, Perette also talked about taking a more “holistic approach” to its biggest properties, including Mortal Kombat and its DC characters – which essentially means there’ll be a push to have free-to-play and mobile titles based on those properties. “You’ll see us, later this year, launching some mobile, free-to-play games,” he said.

Warner Bros’ plans bear echoes of Disney’s recently-announced $1.5bn deal with Epic Games. This will involve the construction of a new “entertainment universe” where we’ll all be able to “play, watch, shop and engage with content, characters and stories from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar and more.”

Studio executives, it seems, can’t stop chasing the dream of the metaverse.

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