Marvel’s mandate may come true after Spider-man release on PS4
Early in the summer of 2016, Marvel got everybody excited by promising to focus more on high-end video games. The mandate was to “make epic games” for consoles, which signified a pretty major shift in strategy. Up to that point the company had appeared to focus more on smaller scale games like those that could be played in browsers or on mobile devices. There were console efforts, but most of them felt lazy and failed to live up to their potential.
It’s been more than a year since that mandate was made public, so now feels like a good time to check in on the company’s progress.
Has Marvel done what it said it would do?
When it comes to mobile things look like they’re to be slowing down. The main Marvel apps, like Future Fight and Contest Of Champions, were actually designed by established mobile gaming companies with input from Marvel. These still appear to be going strong.
Both games are still regularly updated with fresh content, usually to coincide with film releases and broader marketing campaigns. They’re both at the high end of their respective genres, and it seems like they don’t cost Marvel too much effort. They’re actually among the company’s better video games to date, and they’ll likely be sticking around for the foreseeable future.
Tough mandate for current Game developers
Other mobile games, however, may be falling off—especially in connection to the casino industry. Over the years, casino games, and most notably slots, have made a successful transition to smart devices. This has made them easy to find and play from any device. Much of the success comes down to the fact that these games tend to incorporate themes from popular movies, TV shows, and more. And that includes the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But earlier in 2017 we learned that at least some game developers will no longer be able to work with Marvel licenses. This likely indicates some willingness on Marvel’s part to transition to bigger and better games.
Telltale partnership with Marvel shows promising results
The more important changes are in the console market, where Marvel has indeed picked up the pace. The first major game to come out following the mandate was the Guardians Of The Galaxy title released by Telltale. As is characteristic of the developer’s efforts, it was a success (albeit not an Earth-shattering one).
“With story at the core of everything that Marvel creates, who better to team with than master storytellers Telltale Games,” said Jay Ong, Senior Vice President, Games & Innovation, Marvel Entertainment.
“Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series fully showcases Marvel and Telltale’s rich legacy of storytelling, and fans will find themselves immersed in an original, character-driven narrative. As part of our strategy to establish a new standard for Marvel games, this is certainly among the great titles to come.”
When it comes to Telltale games, people either like beautiful, narrative-driven games or they prefer a little more action. You’re either going to enjoy their titles or not based on where you fall on that spectrum, and the same was true of Guardians. Technically speaking it was a very well made game, and those who like Telltale seemed to review it positively.
Insomniac’s Spider-Man for release on PS4 Dec 29th (Pre-order)
It’s what’s around the corner that’s most exciting though. Marvel was never going to churn out amazing console games overnight just because it indicated a shifting focus. It had to take time, and over a year later we’re finally getting closer at the biggest releases. The games currently in development for the company include the much talked about Spider-Man game from Insomniac, and the “Marvel Avengers Project” from Square Enix. Both look to be AAA games, and most exciting of all, they’re not specifically attached to films. That’s been the downfall of many games over the years.
Starwars Battlefront (developed by EA Dice) had strict guidelines from Disney to stay ‘on-brand’. This left little room for extra features that might not exist in the film, so the game play lacked in vitality.
“Battlefront imposes limits and gates on an expansive universe, reigning in instead of expanding the possible ways to become part of that world.” Kill Screen
The high licensing cost also pushed developers to release a ton of DLCs which distracted from core development. It fragmented the gaming community because the game had barely any content for the high price paid. It even lacked a campaign mode, they were definitely not prepared!
New Spider-Man is set in the future
Spider-Man on PS4 takes the best bits and has been confirmed to have its own universe, with less focus on matching the films. For example, Peter Parker is 8 years older, therefore Spider-man is a lot faster than ever before. It seems Marvel has learned its lesson and will now allow developers more creative flexibility to avoid similar mistakes.
Putting it all together, Marvel seems to be delivering on its promise, even if there’s not much to show yet in terms of actual new games. Even so, we can’t wait for the first big Marvel titles to finally arrive on consoles.