The year you were born shapes you as a person in many ways. The state of society molds you and the state of culture inspires you. For me growing up in the late nineties and early naughties I was shaped by the likes of the animated series for Silver Surfer, X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman, Justice League and so on, I had the early X-Men films from Bryan Singer and I had the early Spider-Man films from Sam Raimi. But films and TV weren’t the only contributing factors for us growing up, since the explosion in the eighties and the improvement year-after-year, we’ve also had video games to keep us going and I was a huge player of superhero games (and still am) like the first Spider-Man adaptation from the Raimi film and then especially the sequel- still something I remember and hold as an all-time favourite. So with superhero video games being such an important part of the superhero pop culture history it is a little strange that in this world of superhero movies being king, this age of a Heroic Hollywood (if you will), so what is happening?
Well you may remember in the early days of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that efforts for movie-tie-in games were made with the likes of Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, but if you’ve ever played those games then surely you know how that turned out (answer: not well). in 2012 however Sony released a reboot of Spider-Man and made it Amazing, but the important thing here (for me at least) was the reveal that they would also be releasing a movie-tie-in game again from Activision, the studio that released the games from my childhood, and honestly I thoroughly enjoyed the two Amazing Spider-Man games so this news from E3 immediately got my attention.
The head of Marvel’s Video Game Team Jay Ong spoke with Venture Beat and was able to reveal the following about the future strategy of Marvel video games;
“The emphasis was on this obsession with quality. And more than quality, certain things like—this has to be better than just good enough. It has to be great. Our games have to have lasting value that we’re all proud of. Part of it involved being very discriminating in who we partner with. This is a case in point. Sony and Insomniac are two of the best game companies on earth, from the publishing side and from the development side. Picking the right partners was the key.”
So it looks like Marvel, with the guidance of Jay Ong are completely reevaluating the way the work with studios and publishers to develop these games, and with the undenyable success of standalone original games from fairly unknown studios like Rocksteady with DC’s Arkham series we could have a whole new contender for AAA successes on our hands as Marvel move away from movie-tie-ins, something equally as exciting for us, for developers and for Ong;
“It was also finding a franchise-driven and character-driven approach to products, as opposed to one-offs. Making sure we made these franchises sustainable. That gives developers more creative freedom. Going away from movie games was a big pivot. Those just didn’t work for us in the past. The idea of creating original storylines, giving the developers the freedom to create something new—from a creative standpoint that’s liberating for our partners. And for us it results in great games. When we tell people that they aren’t just building a movie game, that opens up their eyes. “You mean we have the freedom to invest and deliver the title that we want to deliver?” They don’t have to meet some artificial date. We give them time. We initiate projects far earlier than we used to. Great products require time to make. They have room to breathe, creatively and from a scheduling perspective.”
This partnership with Sony and Insomniac for the Spider-Man games ensures Spider-Man will be staying a PlayStation exclusive, Ong confirmed this when speaking with gamesindustry.biz;
“We’ve had a long history of success with Activision, and we still have a great relationship with them, but the future of the Spider-Man console games is with Sony and Insomniac. We’re delighted about this partnership, and that’s something that’s going to continue forward. With [regard to] other console partners, stay tuned. There’s many more interesting additional things to come. But Activision is in the past, with regards to Spider-Man”
So the future is bright. My imagination is already creating a thousand great Marvel Games I would love to see, maybe a reboot of the Ultimate Alliance games or perhaps a game based around a character we haven’t seen on screen yet like Nova. What is your favourite Marvel video game from growing up? Feel free to let me know in the comments below.