Sega of America has announced an expanded relationship with Marvel Entertainment, to include the rights to develop and distribute games inspired by Marvel Comics characters Captain America, The Incredible Hulk and Thor.
The acquisition of the rights is described as an “exclusive, multi-year global licensing agreement”, with Sega able to create titles for console, handheld and PC platforms based on both the comic books and planned feature film adaptations of each character.
The announcement follows Sega’s licensing of the Iron Man character, with the first game due to be based on the forthcoming 2008 movie starring Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man/Tony Stark. A new movie based on The Incredible Hulk is also expected in 2008 and will star Edward Norton.
The release date and nature of the movies based on Captain America and Thor are less well known, with the latter apparently being scripted by Mark Protosevich, whose previous work includes Poseidon and forthcoming Will Smith vehicle I Am Legend.
Marvel Comics characters are one of the most widely licensed properties in the whole video games industry, with publishers including Konami, Activision, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, THQ and Take-Two Interactive all currently licensing either specific characters or usages of the entire Marvel universe.
Despite enquiries by Gamasutra, Sega has so far been unable to clarify whether the licensing of the three new characters will limit their appearance in titles from other companies. Iron Man and Ghost Rider both appeared in the recent Marvel: Ultimate Alliance from Activision – despite being independently licensed by Sega and Take-Two, respectively.
However, The Punisher has not appeared in any Marvel team game since being licensed for THQ’s successful 2005 title. The Incredible Hulk has also not appeared in any team game since Vivendi acquired the license for 2005’s The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction – although the character has recently been made available as a downloadable extra in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.
“Video games are an ideal medium to showcase the appeal and excitement of our super hero franchises,” said David Maisel, chairman or Marvel Studios. “Sega is one of the industry’s most innovative game developers and we are thrilled to partner with them to bring Captain America, The Incredible Hulk and Thor to the video gaming arena.”
“We are excited to broaden our partnership with Marvel, a recognized leader and innovator in the entertainment industry,” said Simon Jeffery, president and COO of Sega of America. “As Sega continues to create games that are built from the ground up to appeal to Western audiences it makes perfect sense to work with a powerhouse like Marvel.”