AT&T is seeking the sale of Warner Bros Interactive, a deal that could reach around $4 billion, according to a report from CNBC. Take-Two, Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard have all reportedly expressed interest in purchasing Warner Bros’ gaming division, but no deal is currently imminent.
According to CNBC’s story, the company that purchases Warner Bros Interactive will not gain the rights to IPs such as Batman or Harry Potter, which are linked to Warner Bros-owned properties. Instead, any deal is likely to include a “commercial licensing agreement where AT&T can continue to get revenue from its IP.”
It’s pure speculation at present, but it seems entirely possible that gaming-led IPs such as Mortal Kombat and Scribblenauts might move over as part of the deal. While obviously the likes of Batman, Games of Thrones, and valuable third-party rights, such as Warner’s ongoing deal with Lego, would be licensed out to the new owner. The key would then be how long and how favourable those terms would be.
Any acquisition would certainly include all the studios that belong to Warner Bros Interactive. From a UK perspective that would include TT Games and its subsidiaries, creators of the Lego games. And Rocksteady, which is best known for the Batman Arkham series. As well as studios such as Mortal Kombat creator NetherRealm and Monolith, best known for its Middle Earth Shadows of Mordor series – and best of luck to anyone taking on the tangled web of legal wrangles behind Tolkien’s work.
While staff at the studios will be rightfully concerned about any such changes. It will be the potential cost-savings in the publishing and marketing departments that are most concerning, should the division be bought by an existing games publisher with its own global publishing network, it would seem likely that jobs would be lost.
AT&T purchased Time Warner (and with it, Warner Bros Interactive as well as DC Comics, HBO, Cartoon Network and Adult Swim) for $109 billion in 2018, and amassed $200 billion in debt. Investors have therefore called for AT&T to sell “non-core assets” such as DirecTV and Warner Bros Interactive.
There are multiple notable projects currently underway under Warner Bros Interactive, including a rumoured Harry Potter RPG, Rocksteady’s upcoming title, and a Batman game in the works at WB Montreal.