Marvel has become one of the most valuable intellectual properties in the past few years. Due to the amazing success of the MCU, the comics are mainstream pop culture now. Anything associated with the Marvel brand sells like hot cakes and video games are no different. We have seen how successful Spider-Man and Miles Morales have been on the PlayStation. Guardians of The Galaxy was also a relative success and many more AAA Marvel games are launching soon. Hence, the company is flourishing under the leadership of Sony. But, a new find tells us how Sony might not have become the main collaborator of Marvel.
An excerpt from the Ultimate History of Video Games book tells us how Marvel Games reached out to both Microsoft and Sony to make first-party titles. The gaming division of Marvel asked both companies to make original titles for the studio. However only Sony agreed to this proposition from Marvel while Microsoft passed. Quotes from Marvel vice president Jay Ong detail how talks took place at the start of Marvel Games in 2014.
Being from console first-party in my past, I pinged both sides, both Xbox and PlayStation, and said, “We don’t have any big console deals with anyone right now. What would you like to do?” Microsoft’s strategy was to focus on their own IP. They passed.
So, Microsoft passed on the opportunity to make first party games for a major pop culture phenomenon for their own titles. Everyone will have their opinions about this exclusive strategy but passing something this big isn’t very smart. Jay Ong wanted a major studio with a lot of money and talent to make games for Marvel. One of these options was Nintendo but they only made first party titles of their own so this option wasn’t going to work out.
There were three companies that fit that description. One of them, Nintendo, mostly developed games based on its own intellectual properties.
Eventually, Ong held talks with Sony and wanted them to tap into this potentially massive property. Scott Rohde was the vice president of product development and offered to make an exclusive Spider-Man game. But, the license was with Activision and agreed a deal which benefited both of the companies. Marvel got the rights to their poster hero back and Sony went to work in wanting to make an Arkham competitor.
When it came to Spider-Man, Activision wasn’t prepared to compete against games like Batman: Arkham Asylum. Sony was. To date, the Arkham games and Marvel’s Spider-Man are unrivaled among superhero games for sales
As we know from the sales of Spider-Man, both Marvel and Sony made the right decision. The game started a very fruitful partnership and is going to continue to produce games in the future. Wolverine is already coming out in 2023 and hopefully they have much more planned. From Microsoft’s point of view this does seem like a missed opportunity.