Who’s The Real Villain? Understanding Suicide Squad’s $200M Flop

Too many years have been spent on making a game that players did not ask for, and now WBD needs to figure out where they go from here.

If the reports are to be trusted, Suicide Squad’s $200M flop looks like it’ll stay a thorn in WBD’s side for years to come. Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League was released on February 2, 2024, for PlayStation 5, Windows, and Xbox Series X/S. Developer Rocksteady Studios had been put in charge of the game and despite the shaky reviews of the movies that came before, the characters had enough of a following that the game could have found easy success with its target audience. Despite all the factors waiting on the sidelines cheering for the game’s success, Warner Bros reported a $200M loss on their Q1 earnings report. There are many reasons for Suicide Squad’s falling flat with gamers but none are enough to explain the scale at which this particular game has failed.

Image: Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League disappoints fans.

Suicide Squad’s $200M Flop Pummles WBD’s Spirits

The action-adventure third-person shooter game Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League was designed by Rocksteady Studios and funded by Warner Bros. Discovery. As you’d expect, the “bad guys” are the main characters and they’re set on accomplishing their mission to bring down the Justice League once and for all. What could possibly go wrong? Despite the pretty decent animation, storyline, and opportunity to fight as Harley Quinn, the game has not performed well since launch, unable to make up all the investments as compared to the previous year.

According to BloombergSuicide Squad’s $200M flop hit the company quite heavily and was a central talking point in their Q1 financial results. The game “generated significantly lower revenues” compared to the same period the previous year, where Hogwarts Legacy had performed quite exceptionally. The poor performance of Suicide Squad led to a negative $200 million impact on EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization).

Discussing the Warner Bros Suicide Squad loss, IGN reported WBD CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels saying, “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 during the first quarter.” If you’ve followed the creation of the game since it was first taken up by Rocksteady, you’re most likely unsurprised by the failure of the Suicide Squad game.

The Reasons for Suicide Squad Flop and Warner Bros’ $200M Loss

Suicide Squad’s $200M flop may come as a surprise to outsiders, but those who have stuck with the game for the last few years might know a little something about the chaos that went on behind the scenes. The game developers reportedly had a “constantly changing vision” that went through many evolutions even as the game was being designed. Melee combat was supposed to be the central focus of the game, which made the inclusion of Captain Boomerang confusing when all he did was fight with guns in this one. The game’s shift to a shooting game was just as complicated as its evolution into a multiplayer, which was supposed to be one of the reasons many employees left the project.

Chasing the “Live Service” Dream Lead to the Suicide Squad Game Failure

Many have also blamed the company for falling into the MMO live service trap and trying to capitalize on the trend rather than fully conceptualizing and sticking to their original idea for the game. The developers had little experience with such designing such experiences but were forced to enter the project anyway, hiring more workers than they were ready to handle in an attempt to pull through.

Many believed the failure of Marvel’s Avengers video game would be enough to finally dissuade the company from going through with the game, but after so many years of investment, it was probably hard to give up.

Competition From The Inside: Fans Demand a Batman Game

Another one of the many reasons for Suicide Squad’s flop has been linked to its existence at all—gamers didn’t want a Suicide Squad Game and had hoped for another Batman: Arkham Knight sequel from the studio. The Batman game is often celebrated as one of the studio’s best games as well as one of the best additions to the superhero genre of gaming, and that’s what gamers wanted more of. Instead, they were offered a game to destroy Batman instead. The two games don’t have anything to do with each other but blaming the Suicide Squad game for blocking the studio from working on a Batman game, many fans have just steered clear of the new experience entirely.

We are reportedly getting a Batman: Arkham Shadow VR experience from Camouflaj this year, but it’s too late to do anything about Warner Bros’ $200M loss. If WBD is hoping to make up its revenue with the upcoming game, it may be in trouble because fans are already disappointed that the game is going to be a VR experience exclusively available on Meta. Fans want a traditional game instead of this VR experience, but they do have to make peace with this game as opposed to having no game at all.

Rocksteady Studios’ Co-founders Quit Unexpectedly

The Suicide Squad game failure has been linked to the Rocksteady Studios’ co-founders Jamie Walker and Sefton Hill leaving the company just before the expected game launch in 2022, but their departure may not be to blame. Key elements of the game were likely to have been solidified by then, and all they should have had to do was iron out the particulars—the official announcement of their departure back then had said the game was “nearly finished.” That was clearly untrue.

Bloomberg’s report also suggested that Sefton Hill was too much of a perfectionist, putting the game’s progress on hold for months as devs waited for his review. His callous handling and scrapping of key elements of the game must have inevitably led to confusion with the team. Despite the healthy, happy announcement of their departure on good terms, the two have been accused of luring developers away from the project to work at their new studio.

We’ll never truly know how much of an impact their exit had on the failure of the Suicide Squad game, but considering they left the studio so close to their big project release, perhaps they had some differences that could not be settled peacefully.

Warner Bros Suicide Squad losses remain hard to fully conceptualize as we do not have all the details on the game’s fiscal performance. As of writing this, the game only had a 24-hour peak number of 240 players on Steam, with its 13,459 all-time peak having occurred four months ago during the game’s release. The game has a 70.78 percent SteamDB rating, 5 out of 10 by IGNand a 60 percent Metacritic score. The numbers aren’t the worst you’d expect for a “bad” game, but if you ask those who have played it, their reviews will be better able to explain that the poor gameplay planning and experience is one of the main reasons for the Suicide Squad game’s failure.

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