With the announcement of the Avengers games from several Square Enix studios, Marvel Entertainment essentially revealed that it was finally getting serious about video games again. The catalog of games based on Marvel Comics properties has mostly stretched from "horrible" to "okay". That's because Marvel has been hands-off, licensing a property and then walking away.
Now, Marvel Entertainment has a division specifically tasked with making sure the games live up to the Marvel brand. And part of this new ethos is giving game developers the chance to make their stamp on the Marvel Universe.
"We're absolutely stand alone. When I started at Marvel, there was this chance to reboot the business; to start from scratch," Marvel senior vice president of games Jay Ong told GameSpot. "One of the key pillars we strived for was to use our games as a driver of the brand, certainly, and as a creator of original IP. So we strive very hard to make sure our games have really cool storylines that are wholly original."
Ong points to the new Spider-Man costume in Insomniac Games' planned PlayStation 4 exclusive Spider-Man game and the original stories of mobile Marvel projects like Contest of Champions as examples of Marvel Games having more autonomy.
"We've come a long way. I think we used to be a support unit; now we're big, not as big as theatrical or TV, but we're growing," said Ong. "For brand new characters, we've worked with some of our partners, and we've already done that, and you can see that in our work with Kabam. And all of our games have original stories. Now if we're talking about brand new universe and something that's never been seen before from the ground up, that day'll come...possibly. It's hard to say [laughs]."
Marvel Games is apparently looking at a wide variety of titles to represent the brand. There's Insomniac's Spider-Man, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, and the Square Enix Avengers games. Ong says there's more to way, with potential VR projects in the works.
"There are so many different types of games, right? We're looking at not just console and mobile, but VR, as well," he said. "The possibilities are practically without limits, so I don't see any limitations. I would say, in some ways, games are more flexible than film or TV in terms of being able to tell amazingly different stories. Some games might be more story driven, such as Telltale, others more action driven like you mentioned earlier. There's an opportunity there to do some pretty crazy things."