“Hogwarts Legacy” crossed 22 million copies sold by the end of 2023, with approximately 2 million of those units selling during the December holiday season, according to Warner Bros. Games.
“But it’s not just the unit sold that I’m so proud of, it’s just that it delighted the fans so much,” Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment president David Haddad, whose team also launched the hit title “Mortal Kombat 1” last year, told Variety. “It brought Harry Potter to life in a new way for gamers where they could be themselves in this world, in this story. And that’s what the team at Avalanche set out to do when they were developing the game and I think that’s really why it resonated so well and remains the best-selling game of the year in the entire industry worldwide. That’s a position that typically is held by one of these incumbent’s sequel games and we’re so proud that we’ve been able to break into the top ranks.”
From the Avalanche Studio-produced game’s Feb. 10 launch through Dec. 31, the Harry Potter universe AAA game (a higher-budget title with more production value than your average game), the Warner Bros. Discovery-owned publisher says “Hogwarts Legacy” racked up 707 million hours played. According to Haddad, “many” fans have gone back and played the game through more than once, choosing a different Hogwarts house to be sorted into for a different storyline experience.
Then there’s the fun in-game data, which shows 819 million potions were brewed, 1.3 billion magical plants harvested, 593 million magical beasts rescued and 4.9 billion dark wizards defeated within the halls of the virtual wizarding school.
With all that time and money and magic spent on the game, Haddad and Co. are already working on follow-up additions to the Potterverse’s video game world. That includes the previously announced title featuring Quidditch (the wizard sport that was left out of “Hogwarts Legacy,” to fans’ chagrin), which is currently in the beta-testing phase, but also “a series of other things” that are currently unannounced and “will let the fans be part of this world and stories and characters in deeper and deeper ways,” Haddad says.
“We don’t have any particular announcements on exactly how and when [the Quidditch game] is going to come to the market, but we are working to get it designed in a way just to delight fans,” Haddad said.
But the Harry Potter games are far from the only focus at Warner Bros. Games, where marching orders from on high, namely streaming and gaming chief J.B. Perrette, WBD CEO David Zaslav and even CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels, has been to prioritize Warner Bros. franchises and IP above all else in the pursuit of global gaming domination.
Aside from “Hogwarts Legacy,” the biggest example of that in 2023 was “Mortal Kombat 1,” which launched Sept. 14. Haddad says that game release garnered “more players for that franchise” across all of the studio’s available “Mortal Kombat” games, including mobile games, than they have “ever had before in its 30-plus year history.” “Mortal Kombat 1” was also nominated for best fighting game of the year at the Game Awards in December.
Coming up, Warner Bros. Games will be launching “Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League” on Feb. 2, which Haddad calls “one of our most ambitious projects ever,” and the wide release for free-to-play brawler game “MultiVersus,” which features Warner Bros.-owned characters ready to battle. Looking ahead further, the studio has a single-player open-world action Wonder Woman game in the works, as well as games that will be canon additions to James Gunn and Peter Safran’s planned relaunch of the DC Universe.
“A very consistent message coming from the executive layer of Warner Bros. Discovery is the importance of franchises,” Haddad said. “There’s a unique and important role games have in keeping our franchises relevant, resonant and exciting because there’s plenty of fans and plenty of people consuming content where games are their starting point, it’s their preferred form of content.”
During Warner Bros. Discovery’s Q3 earnings call in November, Zaslav noted the new focus is “on transforming our biggest franchises from largely console- and PC-based with 3-to-4-year release schedules to include more always-on game play through live services, multi-platform and free-to-play extensions with the goal to have more players spending more time on more platforms.”
Haddad says the path to that is “the accumulation of keeping live games launched with new content, keeping our mobile games services vibrant, and large launching new content.” (Perhaps there is reason to hold out hope for downloadable content in “Hogwarts Legacy” after all, when Warner Bros. Games leadership previously said there were no plans for those updates.)
“When you ask what our goals are, it’s really that macro goal of making sure that we get as much engagement with the fans as possible using content and releases and updates and live services,” Haddad said.