Last summer, Marvel Entertainment announced a new directive focused on video games at the 2016 E3 Conference. The plan for Marvel going forward is to license their characters only to well-known and critically successful developers. This initiative was revealed concurrently with a new Spider-Man game made exclusively for PlayStation 4 by Insomniac Games (one has to assume that Sony still holds an influence over the character’s rights). Although the trailer was brief and had little gameplay, the difference in quality compared to previous Marvel games is apparent even without knowing Insomniac’s pedigree.
It truly seems that quality is what Marvel is now looking for, rather than movie tie-ins that perform badly or mobile games that are not made for hardcore gamers. Marvel’s vice president of games, Jay Ong, told Polygon the level of talent and the amount of passion are the most important qualities in potential game developers.
Since 2010, Marvel has released a total of 43 games. Twenty-six of them are for home entertainment, and 17 for mobile or handhelds exclusively. With this volume of games, it should be evident that Marvel was not particular in whom they licensed their characters to for the most part. It is extremely exciting that Marvel is taking a new stance on honoring their characters through developers who are worthy of these IPs.
Recently, there has been an influx of Marvel game news as the mandate from E3 makes progress. First, “Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite” was surprisingly announced at The Game Awards in December. There had been a few rumors of “Marvel vs Capcom 4” in the days preceding the event, but before that it was a stretch to think that the fan-favorite fighting series would gain another entry in the franchise. Telltale’s Marvel game, first announced without any information back in April of 2015, also made an entrance at The Game Awards. It was revealed that the game would be “The Guardians of the Galaxy;” although, once again, there was an unfortunate leak as an unforeseen result of the voice actor strike just a month before the reveal.
Just this week, an entirely new batch of information was given. Through a surprise trailer release, it was announced that Square Enix and Marvel are in a multi-game partnership with the first product being an untitled Avengers game going by “The Avengers project.” Crystal Dynamics, known for their retooling of Tomb Raider, and Eidos Montreal, responsible for the last couple Deus Ex games, will be developing the title. Perhaps even more interesting is a report by Eurogamer and corroborated by Kotaku that Eidos Montreal will helm the development of Square Enix’s second Marvel game that will also be centered on The Guardians of the Galaxy.
We may be getting fewer Marvel games in the years ahead, but everything seems to point to better experiences all around. In contrast with Marvel, DC has only released 16 games for home console in the past seven years, including the four critically acclaimed “Batman: Arkham” games and the popular “Injustice.” It’s clear that superhero games can be successful, and with this new deal we may finally be getting to the Golden Age of superhero video games.
You can watch the trailers for the upcoming games talked about here below: