- The gaming industry hasn’t adopted the shared universe model of Hollywood yet, but Sony can start this trend through Spider-Man and Wolverine.
- Making an MCU-like gaming universe will be a surefire to boost game sales in the face of increasing competition and a risky future slate of live-service titles.
- Insomniac is developing both of the titles and these characters have a fan-favorite friendship in comics, meaning this move makes sense.
When it comes to transmedia relationships video games and movies/TV shows are probably the most closely related. Films and series based on video games have become a norm in the modern era. On the other hand, games based on popular entertainment franchises have been in trend for decades now. Due to such sharing of ideas both of the mediums help each other succeed.
For instance, the recent Super Mario Bros movie from Illumination made over $1.2 billion at the box office. Meaning, the appeal of arguably gaming’s most popular character made millions for one of the leading film animation studios. Similarly, video games based on movies have expanded even more in recent times and we have received some amazing titles as a result.
The biggest example of this phenomenon is the Star Wars games. Since the start of the century video games based on this extremely popular media franchise have sold in millions. Most recently Star Wars Jedi: Survivor from Electronic Arts became a big hit worldwide and sold even better than its predecessor. In addition, players have been blessed with great games based on the Mad Max and Alien franchises among many others.
Besides these adaptations, both of these mediums also share a lot of technological advancements. For instance, the popular Disney+ show The Mandalorian used Epic’s Unreal Engine 4 to develop the StageCraft technology which is now in use across the film industry. Moreover, big-name movie directors and creators constantly collaborate with game studios and help envision projects.
Due to such a high level of collaboration, there are many common trends in both of these mediums. One of the most popular recent introductions in the film industry has been the concept of shared universes. However, this in-fashion idea hasn’t really found its footing in the gaming industry yet. For sure, we have the RemedyVerse and there are many games that are rumored to have a common universe, but gaming doesn’t have its MCU.
The hype shared universes have created among filmgoers has resulted in mega-successful movies like Avengers: Endgame, Godzilla vs. Kong, The Conjuring, and countless more. Hence, making a common universe of AAA video games based on popular IPs can only be good for the industry. And, there is no better option to start this initiative than the MCU counterparts of the gaming world: Wolverine and Spider-Man.
Why Spider-Man And Wolverine Need To Be In The Same Universe
At the recent PlayStation Showcase, we finally got our first look at the upcoming Spider-Man 2 two years after its official reveal. With the exception of some graphical inconsistencies, Insomniac’s gameplay reveal for the sequel has received a positive reception from fans. But, overall, Sony‘s much-hyped event was a letdown due to the absence of several major first-party games.
Like any entertainment medium, the gaming industry is super competitive and giants like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are always trying to one-up each other. For instance, Microsoft has been working to complete the acquisition of Activision Blizzard for over a year now to strengthen Game Pass. On the other hand, the Nintendo Switch is showing no signs of stopping as it continues to outsell next-gen consoles in its seventh year.
Therefore, the competition is higher than it has ever been in this generation. Although Sony probably has a star-studded first-party lineup ready for its rumored upcoming showcase, its overall slate is very risky. The Japanese company is releasing several live-service titles in the coming years for PlayStation 5, something it hasn’t done before.
Per a recent report, PlayStation is also dedicating a record amount of budget to develop live-service games this gen. Obviously, this fits into the company’s plans to expand into mobile and cloud gaming and is a sensible move in today’s industry. However, Sony has built its brand on the basis of story-based single-player titles this past generation.
Games like God of War, The Last of Us, Spider-Man, and Days Gone made the PlayStation 4 generation a massive success for the company. Hence, even though this expansion into live-service games is necessary, it’s still very risky. So, how can Sony cross out this risky move through its single-player sector? By setting one of its most popular existing IPs and its extremely hyped new IP in the same universe.
How A Spider-Man- And Wolverine-Led Sony MCU Makes Perfect Sense
Sony announced Wolverine for the PlayStation 5 way back in 2021’s PlayStation Showcase with a 53-second teaser. Naturally, due to the character’s popularity, Marvel’s Wolverine quickly became one of the most exciting upcoming projects in development for PS5. Since that reveal, we haven’t heard anything regarding the game, but the hype hasn’t died at all.
Many fans questioned the exclusion of Wolverine from the recent PS Showcase, expressing disappointment with the lack of updates. Hence, it’s pretty clear that fan interest is pretty high in the title, but you can always increase it. And, Sony can do that pretty easily just by setting up the upcoming game in the same universe as Spider-Man.
In the comics, both of these characters are friends and crossover all the time. Therefore, if Sony does decide to take the shared universe route, it won’t feel out of place. Spider-Man and Wolverine are one of Marvel comics’ most loved characters and their friendship is a favorite among fans. As of now, no TV show, movie, or video game has brought this dynamic out of the comic strip.
As a result, Sony’s upcoming video game could be the first interaction of these characters outside of comics. That on its own is a major selling point and will only boost the sales of both titles. The Spider-Man series has already sold over 30 million copies on PC, PS4, and PS5 in the last 5 years. Making the franchise part of a AAA gaming world with other Marvel properties will increase this number by multifold.
In addition, Sony has reiterated that the main goal of the company is to sell more PlayStations through its first-party games. And, what can be a bigger console seller than the playable version of the MCU exclusive to PlayStation? The Japanese company also has a strong relationship with Disney, the owner of Marvel Games which is the company responsible for distributing the video game rights of Marvel characters.
As a result, the two companies can partner to develop more games like Wolverine and Spider-Man due to their existing relationship. Moreover, most of today’s young adult demographic grew up during the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Consequently, a shared universe consisting of two extremely popular characters from Marvel will only appeal to them more.
Therefore, starting gaming’s own MCU through Spider-Man and Wolverine is a surefire way of increasing sales by a huge margin. In addition, both of the games are in development at the same PlayStation studio, Insomniac. Thus, coordinating the two games in the same setting is not as big of a hurdle under one roof compared to a different studio.
Sony hasn’t mentioned anything about whether the games take place in the same universe or not. But, choosing Wolverine as its next first-party superhero game from dozens of Marvel characters could be a natural way to introduce a shared gaming universe. However, nothing is certain and only time can tell what will really happen regarding the two games.
The company already has a shared Marvel-based cinematic universe on screen with its Spider-Man characters. Hence, there is every chance it tries to recreate it in video games, but only time will tell what happens.
To sum everything up, starting the MCU of gaming with Marvel’s Spider-Man and Wolverine makes total sense financially and logically for Sony. Both of the games are under one developer, the characters are fan favorites and have had a long-running partnership in comic lore. Therefore, taking this step and finally mimicking the movie industry is a no-brainer.
In addition, the current climate of the gaming industry and the studio’s slightly risky future plans make the need for such an infallible console and video game seller even more necessary. With the release of Wolverine being far away and Spider-Man 2’s plot under wraps, there is no telling if this happens. But, hopefully, we’ll see the overarching shared universe storylines of the MCU in gaming sooner rather than later.
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