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Default Warner Bros. - WB Interactive Game Studios Could Soon Be for Sale

May 2nd, 2022, 10:06
Gamerant reports that the recent acquisition of Warner Bros. Interactive, in turn becoming Warner Bros. Discovery, has led to a re-evaluation of its game studios. Selling the studios is potentially on the board but Warner Bros. Discovery will keep the IP.

The report comes from Fanbyte Media's Imran Khan, who says that he's "hearing a decent bit of chatter" regarding WB Discovery's new plans. Khan explains that WB Discovery's shopping its game studios around. The list of studios at Warner Bros. Interactive currently includes Hogwarts Legacy studio Avalanche Software, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor dev Monolith Productions, Mortal Kombat creator NetherRealm Studios, Batman: Arkham and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League studio Rocksteady Studios, as well as TT Games, and WB studios in Montreal, Boston, New York, San Diego, and San Francisco.

[…]

It should come as no surprise that a list of parties is already interested in potentially acquiring one of WB Discovery's game studios, a list that Khan has also shared online. Both Microsoft and Sony are on the list, unsurprisingly, as they're both aggressively acquiring studios for Xbox and PlayStation, respectively. Other interested parties include Electronic Arts, Netease, Take-Two, Tencent, and even PUBG Corp. Needless to say, if Warner Bros. Discovery does sell its studios then it can expect some aggressive bids.
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May 2nd, 2022, 18:07
With all the recent news about the various buyouts of large studios, I have to say the fear of having most IP's under one Umbrella does make sense. I'm curious why this is allowed and applauded but services, and online stores like Steam are criticized?
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May 2nd, 2022, 20:03
Well, hopefully it ends up being a move that benefits the company if they go through with it. I own shares of WBD since it got spun off from AT&T, and it's not doing good so far.
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May 3rd, 2022, 05:09
I'm really not afraid of all the games ending up under one, or even five, companies. There are just too many independents out there, with nothing stopping more from cropping up every time a studio gets shut down.

WB's new LEGO Star Wars game seems to be doing very well. They screwed up Shadow of War, but recovered their sanity after a few months and ended up with a good game. I'm not sure what's going to happen with the Arkham games. All in all, it doesn't seem like a studio that's ready to be broken up.
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May 3rd, 2022, 06:41
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
I'm really not afraid of all the games ending up under one, or even five, companies. There are just too many independents out there, with nothing stopping more from cropping up every time a studio gets shut down.
I'd like to believe that but what happens when the big franchises become unpopular through no fault of their own i.e. the developer/designer screws it up.

Case in point would be EA and Ultima. Once it was the most prominent cRPG in existence. It filled computer gaming magazines with ads and editorials. Then along came Ultima 8 and 9 which almost completely destroyed the franchise. UO2 put another nail in the coffin. Then came the abysmal phone game. Now it is dead. RG wants to buy it back (maybe it is a good thing he hasn't been successful). EA is happy to let it wither and die. Gamers would lap up a modern version with a full interactive open world which Ultima pioneered, they are the rage at the moment aren't they?

I love that there are lots of new developers like Owlcats, Larian, Inxile etc but I also want a big name Ultima with all the bells and whistles. Ultima used to bring computers to their knees. Imagine what that would be like today (hopefully not like SC).
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May 4th, 2022, 05:46
Originally Posted by bjon045 View Post
I'd like to believe that but what happens when the big franchises become unpopular through no fault of their own i.e. the developer/designer screws it up.
Then it dies. Maybe it comes back later, maybe MUCH later, and maybe not ever. Maybe Uwe Boll gets his hands on it, and it suffers a fate worse than death. So what? It's sad when a series designed to tell a long story gets cut off or cut short (e.g. Xenosaga), but there will be others.

As long as the developers are out there designing new games and they can pull in enough capital to make good ones, then we're in good shape.
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May 4th, 2022, 09:00
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
but there will be others.
We shall see. I kind of agree but it still makes me sad nonetheless.

EA:
We haven't seen another Ultima in over 20 years.
We haven't seen another Wing Commander in 20 years (a proper one).
We haven't seen a decent Privateer.

Activision:
We haven't seen a Quest for Glory in over 20 years.
We haven't seen a proper King's Quest (that abysmal QTE infested abomination doesn't count).

I could keep going but I just don't have the time to go through all the titles/IP's that could easily be successfully revived.

Indie/new studios create similar games/spiritual sequels for sure. But they rarely meet or exceed the great original games/licenses that are being sat on by the big publishers.
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May 4th, 2022, 10:00
I'm not sure I agree entirely.

There are already many remakes and remasters, then we have to wonder if they will be as enjoyable as we expect. Our embellished memories and the fact we had a good, new experience for the first time will be hard to beat.

I like the occasional remake of a good old game like the next guy or gal, but I'd rather have mostly new experiences. In a time where big companies stick to the same winning formulae or focus on impressive graphics effects, it's getting rare.

Big franchises are about the same, after a while it feels like a reheated meal.
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May 4th, 2022, 11:18
I agree if you are talking about remakes. I rarely play remakes unless it is a remake of a very old game or it really warrants it.

I was more talking about sequels. I would have loved to have played Ultima 10, 11, 12, 13 - although it probably would have have splintered into alternative stories by now i.e. playing as a different character in different worlds etc.

Perhaps you are right, but I think most of the games I listed deserved at least a couple more sequels or at least a reboot. Is Gothic really more deserving of a reboot than Ultima I wonder?
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May 4th, 2022, 11:20
Originally Posted by bjon045 View Post
We shall see. I kind of agree but it still makes me sad nonetheless.

EA:
We haven't seen another Ultima in over 20 years.
We haven't seen another Wing Commander in 20 years (a proper one).
We haven't seen a decent Privateer.

Activision:
We haven't seen a Quest for Glory in over 20 years.
We haven't seen a proper King's Quest (that abysmal QTE infested abomination doesn't count).

I could keep going but I just don't have the time to go through all the titles/IP's that could easily be successfully revived.

Indie/new studios create similar games/spiritual sequels for sure. But they rarely meet or exceed the great original games/licenses that are being sat on by the big publishers.
I am certainly not an EA fan but the franchises you mention have been killed by their own creators. The last of those games were produced by Garriott, Roberts etc.. and were failures in terms of gameplay and disasters in terms of sales.

If anything Garriott and Roberts have always complained about EA because they favored giving money to well established franchises and would not invest in new ideas.

The mistake EA and others made with those same guys is to believe than they could still do games. Shroud of the Avatar and current bloated "see you in 2050" Roberts game prove than they peaked 30 years ago and never recovered.

Fresh air and new stuff is great.
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May 4th, 2022, 12:03
Originally Posted by Kos View Post
The last of those games were produced by Garriott, Roberts etc.. and were failures in terms of gameplay and disasters in terms of sales.
That was actually my point though. If they mess it up then just get in a new designer/team rather than abadoning the whole franchise. Of course we should be getting new games as well There is room for both I would hope.

Ultima 8 was actually profitable, Ultima 9 even made a small profit. RG actually had much less involvement starting with Ultima 7 and for Ultima 7.2 it was Warren spector doing what RG did on U7. The story of U7 was done by a guy called Raymond Benson, who is both a friend of RG and also immortalised in the game much like RG is as Lord British. The programming team was led by Ken Demarest and it was the first time RG didn't write any of the code in the game.

On Ultima 8 RG had minimal involvement and he had even less on Ultima 9. By that point it was clear his passions lay elsewhere (despite the fact that he still wants to buy back the rights). SoA is horrid no doubt. Both U8 and U9 were created under EA and there was significant team changes on both.

My biggest hope for BG3 is that it will show there is value in some of these older IP that have been left to whither away.
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May 4th, 2022, 13:44
Originally Posted by bjon045 View Post
I was more talking about sequels. I would have loved to have played Ultima 10, 11, 12, 13 - although it probably would have have splintered into alternative stories by now i.e. playing as a different character in different worlds etc.

Perhaps you are right, but I think most of the games I listed deserved at least a couple more sequels or at least a reboot. Is Gothic really more deserving of a reboot than Ultima I wonder?
Yes, I saw that too much as a generalization. You're right that as long as a franchise is worth and it doesn't become too repetitive, it's nice to be able to come back to it in sequels. Some make a good job. I don't know the Ultima games enough to tell, I've only played a couple of them long ago.

WB games are often based on comics and novels, which I think makes it an ideal ground for game franchises. I mean that a new game, even by another dev, will have less difficulty to identify to the franchise than a game like BG3 which is unavoidably compared to BG1 & BG2 and the good old days of RPGs, even if there's D&D lore behind that (partially built by BG1 & 2).

If they indeed part from the game studios and keep the IPs it's not clear to me how good this is for the future of the franchises though.
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May 4th, 2022, 14:16
Originally Posted by Redglyph View Post
If they indeed part from the game studios and keep the IPs it's not clear to me how good this is for the future of the franchises though.
WB has a bunch of franchises that I enjoy. MK is still a guilty pleasure of mine.

You raise an interesting point though around how the IP/franchise gets tied to the studio/publisher. I guess D&D (BG3) is a rare exception. Would BG3 have been made if it still sat under Interplay? My understanding is the rights to Baldurs Gate were actually held by Wizards of the Coast. So Larian had to get approval to both make a D&D game and also to access to the "Baldurs Gate" name.

Maybe that is a better option for dead franchises? It took awhile though!
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May 4th, 2022, 16:50
Originally Posted by bjon045 View Post
WB has a bunch of franchises that I enjoy. MK is still a guilty pleasure of mine.

You raise an interesting point though around how the IP/franchise gets tied to the studio/publisher. I guess D&D (BG3) is a rare exception. Would BG3 have been made if it still sat under Interplay? My understanding is the rights to Baldurs Gate were actually held by Wizards of the Coast. So Larian had to get approval to both make a D&D game and also to access to the "Baldurs Gate" name.

Maybe that is a better option for dead franchises? It took awhile though!
I never tried MK, I heard it made a lot of noise when it was initially released, parents not wanting their kids to play it and so on. Quite the legacy

The IP of BG has a complicated history and I don't have all the pieces in mind anymore, but I think you're correct (I'll have to check whether it's through Hasbro or if they still have to licence it themselves, and whether the rights to D&D / BG are owned by the same company). IIC Larian tried to licence BG a few years ago when it was available again, were refused, tried again after the success of DOS:2 and finally got it (ref).

Those IPs are never simple, that's why I have some doubts about what it could become with WB.
Last edited by Redglyph; May 5th, 2022 at 14:08. Reason: added ref
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May 9th, 2022, 11:11
I somehow missed this one… I hope it won't impact Hogwarts Legacy negatively
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