It’s an exciting time in the video game industry, with both Sony and Microsoft preparing to launch new consoles later this year and Nintendo supposedly still working on a new Metroid Prime for the Switch, but the thing about the video game industry is that “exciting” is not synonymous with “good.” Making video games is hard, and a whole lot of triple-A development involves someone with a lot of money giving that money to someone else on the assumption that they’ll create something so popular and successful that the money person gets their money back—and if an actual piece of good art comes out of it, then… that’s okay too. Sometimes, though, you can do everything reasonably well and still find yourself in a shaky position, which seems to be what’s happening to Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (the studio that publishes Lego, DC Comics, and Mortal Kombat games, among many other things).
WBIE is one of the biggest publishers in the biz, based only partially on the fact that it (due to its association with Warner Bros.) controls the rights to some of the most popular brands that you could conceivably make into a video game, but parent company AT&T is apparently looking to sell it in hopes to clearing up some of its $200 billion debt. This comes from VentureBeat, which says AT&T is looking to get somewhere between $2 billion and $4 billion and that other major publishers like Electronic Arts, Take-Two, and Activision Blizzard are among the “potential bidders.” Nobody has confirmed that WBIE is up for sale and none of these other parties have released any sort of statement, but VentureBeat’s sources have at least confirmed that the studio is “up for sale.”
The reason this might be of interest to the general public is that—as VentureBeat notes—WBIE itself doesn’t control the rights to some of the big franchises it makes games off of, like Harry Potter and DC Comics, so it wouldn’t necessarily be allowed to keep making these games if some other studio stepped in and bought it. That could mean no more putting the Joker in Mortal Kombat and no more Injustice fighting games, not to mention whatever secret superhero stuff the Arkham Asylum creators at Rocksteady Studios have been working on and the relatively new Portkey Games label that makes Harry Potter stuff. Also, losing all of these rights would be disastrous for our list of dream Mortal Kombat fighters, but we didn’t have much hope for B.A. Baracus getting into that game anyway.