With high-grossing franchises like Batman, Mortal Kombat, and multiple LEGO titles, Warner Bros. has been largely successful in its recent forays into the video game business. President of Warner Interactive, Martin Tremblay, asserts that he expects 2011 to be the company's most profitable year in interactive entertainment, "on track to generate close to $1 billion in sales." Today's release of Batman: Arkham City for consoles is sure to help matters.
An article in the Los Angeles Times examines Warner Bros. path to success in the video game space, a path that continues to elude most movie studios that try to get their feet wet with making video games. Warner Interactive produced its first title in 2005, but quickly realized that while it had a good number of intellectual properties that could serve as the basis for great video games, it didn't yet have the ability to make high-quality titles.
To solve that problem Warner Interactive has spent the last four years or so buying successful game production companies and their associated LEGO, Mortal Kombat and Arkham franchises. The most notable of these acquisitions was Arkham Asylym and City developer Rocksteady, though the acquisitions of Traveler's Tales (LEGO games) and Midway Games (Mortal Kombat) have both proven quite profitable as well. The publisher has adopted an approach with recent games (especially movie-based tie-ins) meant to avoid the common trappings of games that are made and rushed out the door. "The movie-based games business is broken, and for teen-targeted titles, we're going to try and distance ourselves from the movies so the game stands by itself," Tremblay said.
In addition to the Dark Knight's highly anticipated return to video games (and the new Nolan-directed film, due out in nine months), Warner Bros. is releasing The Lord of the Rings: War in the North on November 1, and will also have a game featuring Hobbits done prior to the release of Peter Jackson's film "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" in December 2012. The company is also working on two new LEGO sequels--one for Batman and one for Harry Potter--that are due out in November of next year as well.
Tremblay also teased a new game based on a "superhero from Warner's DC Comics unit," but wouldn't share any more details at this time. Let the speculation and anticipation begin! (Personally, I'm hoping that we'll finally see a proper Superman game.)
To put Warner Interactive's recent success into perspective, research firm Ipsos OTX reported that Batman: Arkham Asylum sold 4.3 million copies. Hype on sites like Metacritic is already tracking higher for City than Asylum, and Warner Interactive's sales-profits for the publisher should also increase significantly with Arkham City sales, now that Rocksteady is owned under the Warner Interactive umbrella.