When first announced in August 2020, there was genuine interest in Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Rocksteady Studios, long known for its Batman: Arkham series was venturing into relatively unknown territory by focusing on a supervillain group, that too with co-op and character switching. Even more interesting is the story set after the events of Batman: Arkham Knight, with Brainiac mind-controlling members of the Justice League, like Superman, as the Suicide Squad must take them down.
The premise was – and remains – intriguing, especially when it was revealed how The Flash and Batman (with a post-humous performance by the beloved Kevin Conroy) had also fallen under his influence. It was all going decently well, even though we had yet to see much gameplay and co-founders Sefton Hill and Jamie Walker departed the studio around October 2022.
That changed in February 2023 when Rocksteady provided a more extensive look at the game – the looter shooter with a Battle Pass, live-service elements and Destiny-style UI. The gameplay wasn’t all that thrilling either, with peak “shoot the glowing weak point” gameplay that failed to entice. Coming off of Gotham Knights, which wowed everyone – in a negative way – there was concern that Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League was trending in the same direction.
Maybe it would be fine, and it would take some time to polish, if not tone down, some of these elements before launch. Unfortunately, Suicide Squad was arriving a mere three months later. Following this reveal and the backlash, rumors began to circulate about a delay.
It wasn’t long before a delay was announced…all the way to February 2024, nine months since its planned release date. Would it be that much work to remove the unwanted elements? Was Rocksteady even planning on the same? Did it require more work for polish? Was Warner Bros. Games trying to ride out the controversy and hope it would die long enough to re-reveal the game in a shinier light? Regardless of the answer, Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League had been delayed.
We’re less than three months from the title’s release, and WB Games has only just announced Suicide Squad Insider, which will offer updates. The first episode airs on November 15th and “unpacks” the story and gameplay. Why the long silence till now? What the heck is going on?
First, it’s worth noting the rumors. Jez Corden from Windows Central reported that the delay was from the always-online requirement being removed, though it’s apparently only part of the reason. Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier noted that players shouldn’t expect the game to suddenly not be a co-op looter shooter with live-service elements. Meanwhile, VGC’s Andy Robinson reported ahead of the delay that it received more positive feedback than Gotham Knights and that those working on it were “quite optimistic” about the combat loops, game world, and so on.
With all that in mind, the most recent rumors from last month (based on a “not final” trailer) indicate that it’s still very much a live-service game, with at least one year of additional content – including new heroes and missions – in development. Along with a Standard Edition for £69.99, there’s a Deluxe Edition with three-day early access, extra costumes and Battle Pass points for £99.99. Microtransactions weren’t mentioned, but Deadshot is reportedly more focused on guns, while the other heroes are more about melee combat.
Metropolis, where the game takes place, is also apparently twice the size of Arkham Knight’s Gotham City. Co-op and character switching while solo is still confirmed, and there also seems to be real-time weather and a day/night cycle. Interestingly, it wasn’t mentioned whether the game was still always online or not.
This leads to the latest statement by Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav in the company’s recent earnings call. Following the success of Mortal Kombat 1, which sold over three million copies and received backlash for its monetization, Zaslav said the company is focusing on “transforming our biggest franchises from largely console and PC based with three-four year release schedules to include more always on gameplay through live services, multiplatform and free-to-play extensions, with the goal to have more players spending more time on more platforms.”
The ultimate goal is to “drive engagement and monetisation of longer cycles and at higher levels. We are currently under scale and see significant opportunity to generate greater post-purchase revenue.” So even without Rocksteady coming out and explicitly stating as such, it seems a given that Suicide Squad is still a live service game. The rumored one year of post-launch content could be what’s in the pipeline while the team works on other things based on feedback.
Warner Bros. and Rocksteady may be waiting for The Game Awards to drop a new trailer for Suicide Squad, and perhaps open up pre-orders before its launch in February 2024. Even if it faces another delay, perhaps to March, if it wants to hit the same quarter, it’s probably more polished with some more gameplay variety instead of brand-new mechanics or a complete overhaul. Whether it’s enough that the game isn’t always online, especially when all the systems for a live-service title are ever-present, remains to be seen.
Would Warner Bros. have considered another delay if Mortal Kombat 1 hadn’t done so well? With Sony delaying at least half of its 12 live-service titles while Bungie, famed for introducing the blueprint for live-service looter shooters with Destiny 2, faces layoffs, does a new live-service title even make sense? Will the Suicide Squad brand carry the game, even if the recent reboot is already over two years old and superhero films overall are somewhat cold right now? Let’s not forget about Marvel’s Avengers trying the superhero live-service co-op looter formula to great failure and recently being pulled from storefronts.
It’s hard to say at this point. However, after a year of incredible releases, many of them single-player focused titles without microtransactions like Dave the Diver, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, Dead Space, Hi-Fi Rush, Armored Core 6: Fires of Rubicon, Dredge, etc, you really have to wonder if there’s any more room for yet another live-service title seeking long-term revenue via microtransactions and Battle Passes.
It may be a different story if Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League turns out to be amazing, but you also have to remember – there are so many big releases in late January and throughout February 2024, including Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth and Helldivers 2. Rocksteady and Warner Bros. aren’t just competing in the live-service space but also for your time.
Some may play the game for its campaign and then bounce off it for the sake of other titles. Can it really sustain interest beyond that unless it’s absolutely amazing? Time will tell, but for now, there’s every indication of it being yet another gamble for Warner Bros. that will just end up on Game Pass and PlayStation Plus within its first year.
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.