In case you missed it, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League had an extended gameplay showing at Sony’s recent State of Play. We got to see the co-op and more of the combat, which I dubbed “a whole lot of jumping and shooting.” Coming from the developer behind the Batman: Arkham series, it was confusing at best and underwhelming at worst. Not only was this three months before its worldwide launch, but the last major news drop was that Kevin Conroy would reprise Batman in his final performance.
If the gameplay showcase wasn’t bad enough, Rocksteady released a behind-the-scenes video, showcasing everything fans didn’t want to see. A Battle Pass, an in-game store with microtransactions, a live-service approach, loot and Gear Score systems, and a Destiny-like UI – the hits just kept coming. There would also be post-launch content updates that would add new playable characters for free. All this for $70 and no loot boxes. How could people not celebrate?
To no one’s surprise, the backlash was significant. Rocksteady Studios and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment haven’t commented on it at all, but it seems things are happening behind the scenes.
Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier reported that Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League has been delayed, according to someone familiar with the matter. Instead of May, it’s reportedly releasing later this year. Jez Corden of Windows Central heard that it was delayed to Q3 of 2023, while Giant Bomb’s Jeff Grubb was given an even later date – 2024. It may not be official, but Schreier’s track record speaks for itself, additional corroboration aside.
Fan backlash is apparently the reason behind the delay, which seems an understatement. With an original release date of May 25th and almost no positive momentum on its side, not to mention bigger games launching around the same time like The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, a delay almost seemed inevitable. However, as Schreier pointed out, this is unlikely to result in an overhaul of the Games as a Service model.
So what does it mean for Suicide Squad’s future? If it releases later this year, say sometime around November, it’s probably a more lucrative timeframe. Since this is right around the Holiday season, Warner Bros. will likely see more returns, and it gives enough time for the controversy to (hopefully) die down. While it may not be clear of all the major releases, whether the next Call of Duty or Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 arrive, it does offer more breathing room than the current window.
Further polish seems obvious, and it wouldn’t be surprising if a beta for multiplayer is offered (as it should be, especially since this is Rocksteady’s first live-service title). We may see adjustments to the Battle Pass pricing and microtransactions, perhaps more free rewards. It wouldn’t be surprising if the development team toned down the grind and maybe streamlined the loot more. Maybe the crafting system – because
However, in terms of gameplay, what you see is what you’re getting. Everyone is still equipping guns and melee weapons in slots for damage while their signature abilities and Ultimates are cooldowns. You’re still ditching loot you like in favor of higher Gear Score items.
There won’t be any differences to “shoot the glowing purple weak spot” or a massive overhaul to the game’s squad-based and co-op aspects. Games as a Service will continue as planned, and given the cosmetic nature of its purchases, you shouldn’t expect the store to disappear before launch.
In a way, it’s almost insane how this whole scenario mirrors that of Gotham Knights. The latter had been rumored for some time, and when finally showcased, the co-op aspects made everyone believe it was another live service title. Warner Bros. Montreal denied this, but look at Marvel’s Avengers, which released close to the reveal of Gotham Knights. It received poor reviews and did even worse in sales. Then, in Spring 2021 when Gotham Knights was supposed to release, it would be delayed to 2022.
Going by the initial reveal, it clearly needed more time and polish, but we would hear nothing about the game until May 2022, when a new gameplay demo debuted. Despite the final product being filled to the brim with numerous crafting materials, a mobile game-like UI, several suits and level gating, there were no microtransactions. The low number of villains throughout the game fed further into the theory that they would release as post-launch updates. This is presumably before Warner Bros. rethought the whole live-service approach.
If Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is indeed delayed to next year, expect it to arrive sometime by March 31st, 2024, to fit into Warner Bros.’s fiscal year. For Warner Bros., this is a title it’s poured significant resources and money into supporting for years to come, and it’s expecting returns along those lines. Ignore that live-service games are on the downtrend unless it’s an established player like Fortnite.
The best that Rocksteady can do is to ensure that the core gameplay feels good and that the game runs well with minimal issues. If nothing else, there’s the hope that subsequent content updates receive more attention with a solid post-launch roadmap. If both the developer and publisher are committed to this, it’s the least they could do.
However, the time for a new big-budget live-service looter to claim a piece of the market has arguably passed. It’s one of many reasons Anthem and Marvel’s Avengers failed and why The Division, despite the massive success of the first game, isn’t a major player. It shouldn’t be surprising that two of those games stopped receiving support, and another is branching off into the extraction shooter genre with its next game.
Heck, the only reason Destiny survived this long is because of a rabid community, there being nothing quite like it at launch, and Bungie committing extraordinary resources to essentially its flagship property.
Rocksteady should have played to its strengths. If that means returning to the well with the Batman Arkham series, which could have fit amazingly well with this narrative of Brainiac controlling the Justice League, then so be it. It could have been like Justice League: Doom, except with Batman being the one to enact contingency plans to stop the League.
Unfortunately, this is as much of a Warner Bros. decision as anything else, and if the publisher wants a live-service title for that sweet long-term revenue, it will have one, backlash be damned. The fans don’t want it now, but maybe they’ll change their minds later.
I don’t want to call Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League a failure before it even has a chance to get going. However, we’ve seen numerous examples of this same formula failing time and time again. Unless something drastic changes in favor of Rocksteady, the Suicide Squad will struggle to find any takers in the premium game space, whether it’s delayed to this year or the next.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.
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