Online Game Is Tricky Business For Hollywood

Warner Brothers’ sale of Matrix Online to rival Sony after just three months underscores how hard it is turn a profit from a non-mainstream game — and how tricky a business online gaming can be for studios. (Despite the NYT headline, the sale itself is not new news; it was first reported last Friday and you read about it here days ago.) The NY Times reports that the game has fewer than 50,000 subscribers, far below studio projections. Jason Hall, SVP-Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment, told the Times, “It’s certainly disappointing that we are not the runaway hit like we would have hoped for.” (I guess so, given the estimate of nearly $20 million on development.) As part of the deal, which has WB managing the content and Sony the marketing and infrastructure, Warner Brothers will share in future profits. It’s not getting out of the online gaming biz, just admitting it’s better at some roles than others.