The president and CEO of Warner Bros. parent Time Warner has boasted that the company can tempt the talent it needs” away from rival games companies – adding that the sector is to become an increasingly important part of the entertainment giant’s business.
Speaking to investors in an Earnings call, Jeffrey L. Bewkes revealed that the firm is spending hundreds of millions of dollars – including $250m investment from a mysterious Middle Eastern backer – on development, and has 75 games planned for the next seven years.
Bewkes said: Now, still in the films segment is the games business, and our games business is also ramping up. Lego Indiana Jones was the top-selling videogame in June and we have high hopes for Lego Batman, as you can imagine, which we are releasing in September. Over time, we expect games to become an increasingly important part of Warner Brothers’ business.”
We’re pursuing basically two significant changes in the games business. One is we’re going to push to establish ourselves as a third-party distributor, which we’ve already done fairly successfully in the home video business for other people’s product, but it’s less common right now in gaming.
And second, we are using some [felt] type financing to manage the risks, some of which we got, for example, out of Abu Dhabi.
Bewkes then set out the firm’s strategy going forward, including the leveraging of current IP, the creation of new property with other games companies – and the small matter of spending that $250 million.
But what we are doing strategically is we are leveraging our own IP, the titles coming out of Warners. We’re developing some new IP in partnerships with other games companies, some of whom we have either distribution arrangements with or some we have minority equity positions with. Some we have majority in.
We acquired TT Games, which was the maker of Lego Indiana Jones and Lego Star Wars, and Batman is coming up, as I mentioned. We got the North American distribution rights for Codemasters, which is a UK-based video games publisher.
We have a small interest in something called Brash Entertainment, which is a video games publisher, and I mentioned we have the arrangement with our strategic partner in Abu Dhabi who is funding up to $250 million to co-finance the development of up to 75 games over the next seven years. We also have an investment in Eidos, which is a UK games developer, and we distribute all of these.
So there’s co-development, there are game companies that we have different degrees of ownership in, all of it focused on getting the scale and distribution and to your question of whether we have what we need in terms of human talent in our organization inside the company, you know, it’s something we work on all the time.
"We are developing at a pace with the size of our distribution presence, and we feel that we are in reasonably good shape. If you are asking whether we can attract talent that we need, we think we can.”
Warner Bros appointed former Vivendi studios boss Martin Tremblay as president of is interactive division in April.