Warner Bros admits Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League failure contributed to $200M loss

Posted on May 10, 2024

In a recent Q1 financial results report, Warner Bros. has acknowledged that its landmark 2024 release, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, has substantially underperformed and contributed to a $200 million hit to its games division’s revenue.

According to the report, Warner Bros. Discovery has advised that its Games revenue declined substantially in comparison to the strong sales of that single-player wizard game in 2023. Over the same three month periods, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League “generated significantly lower revenues” than the aforementioned game, despite Suicide Squad having an in-game shop containing microtransactions and other DLC which is intended to boost post-release revenue. That is, if gamers were still playing the game and were interested in spending more money, which it seems that they are not.

According to Warner Bros. Discovery Chief Financial Officer Gunnar Wiedenfels, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League’s underperformance in sales and recurring revenue led to a $200 million hit to earnings. “Starting with Studios, the $400 million+ year-over-year decline during Q1 was primarily due to the very tough comp we faced in games against the success of Hogwarts Legacy last year in the first quarter, in conjunction with the disappointing Suicide Squad release this past quarter, which we impaired, leading to a $200 million impact to EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) during the first quarter,” he stated.

One would think that the obvious lesson Warner Bros. could take away from the critical and commercial success of the single player action adventure title and failure of the always-online live service shooter is to make more of the former and less of the latter. However, as reported by Gamespot, WBD gaming chief J.B. Perrette advised in a Morgan Stanley speaking event earlier this year that the company intends to invest even more heavily in always-online live service titles instead of “one-and-done console games“. Despite acknowledging the recent successes of single player titles that the company has published, Perrette stated that the success of single player games is not guaranteed, and that investing in live-service, free-to-play and mobile games is a way to survive in a volatile market.

It is true that even well-received single player games are certainly not guaranteed financial successes. This has recently been seen with the underperformance of Immortals of Aveum. However, when live-service games fail, they can fail hard, with the publisher and developer often obliged to continue to spend months or years supporting the game with additional content, even if it isn’t making any money. Alternatively, the publisher may choose to prematurely pull the plug, as with the recent case of Redfall and developer Arkane Austin, leaving players who paid for extra content thoroughly disappointed and out of pocket. If the game has an always-online requirement, as Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League has for now, the pulling of support would leave the game completely unplayable.

At any rate, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is planning at least four seasons of content for the game’s first year. The first season provided the game’s first post-release playable character, the Joker from an alternate universe. With the game’s initial underperformance making the viability of future support an open question, it will remain to be seen what the future looks like for Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.