WB Games president David Haddad is giving more signs that WB Games will likely survive the Warner Bros. and Discovery merger without big cuts. The division appears to be profitable and there have been no layoffs or cuts between his team or the company’s 11 game studios.
That information (shared in an interview with Axios) makes WB Games one of the exceptions to the rule in integrating Warner-owned subsidiaries. WB/Discovery CEO David Zaslav and his executive team have made ruthless cutbacks in Warner Bros.
The most public cancellations have included near-completed projects on subscription service HBO Max, but behind-the-scenes layoffs and adjustments have caused weeks of chaos in the entertainment industry.
According to Haddad, WB Games studios have benefited from a division-wide push for “game quality.” That push has led to several project delays and the cancellation of next-gen ports of WB Games’ upcoming Montreal Bat-family game. gotham knights. A recent delay of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Legacy it was also made with that mantra in mind.
Haddad also told Axios that the company’s new leadership “has expressed a strong belief in growing the games business and being part of the company’s overall strategy.”
Prior to Haddad’s comments, the only clue we had that WB/Discovery was pleased with its video game division was a brief positive comment about sales of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga in the company’s most recent financial report. Warner Bros. had previously floated the idea of selling the games division in 2020.
Where do the games fit into the WB/Discovery strategy?
It’s good news for the developers working at the various WB Games studios that management doesn’t want to shut them down. But with HBO Max being dismantled for spare parts, one wonders what the executive team behind Property Brothers wants with a video game division.
The duller answer is, of course, more franchise power. Though a number of DC Comics-inspired projects have borne the brunt of cutbacks and cancellations, company management has made it clear that it wants big-budget blockbusters that can dominate theaters. Many of them will feature superheroes from DC Comics, and other major WB properties like Harry Potter will likely get a shot.
Blockbuster movie franchises can be fueled by big blockbuster video games. Although WB has few direct adaptations in the works, Hogwarts Legacy it could boost the public reputation of the Harry Potter franchises (even if Harry Potter author JK Rowling’s rampant transphobia is doing the exact opposite).
It’s hard to take the good news at face value given many of the other decisions made at HBO Max in recent weeks. The laid-off employees told The Daily Beast that the cuts and layoffs disproportionately affected various teams, replacing them with all-white replacements.
The cancellation of the Batgirl movie and numerous animated projects from HBO Max sounds like the worst possible version of a video game cancellation: Projects are canceled outright, footage is suddenly not accessible to staff members, and executives are blunt saying that all of this is being done in the name of tax breaks and lowering the cost of royalty payments.
It’s good that WB Games is safe for now. It’s troubling to think what steps executives might take if that starts to change, even slightly.