"Obviously I was bluffing, I didn't have all the money. The goal was to convince them that we had the financial backing and we could do this."
- Vishal Gondal, a dev on what's reportedly the first mobile Spider-Man game, speaks to Gadgets 360 about licensing.
While Spider-Man games have been developed for nearly every console, the superhero's first mobile game debuted in 2003 thanks to a small studio in India.
In an interview with Gadgets 360, game designers from Mumbai-based Indiagames discuss development of the first mobile iteration of Spider-Man, which was put together in under a month and nearly shipped with assets taken from Spider-Man: Mysterio's Menace for the Game Boy Advance.
It's always interesting to see how mobile games were developed and published before the conception of Google Play and the Android Marketplace, especially for a licensed IP like Marvel's Spider-Man.
Before Indiagames went on to develop Spider-Man, the studio was best known for making generic mobile arcade games and was fairly successful, looking to extend its reach beyond India and parts of South East Asia.
“We were at E3 2003 when the idea struck that if we can get a certain amount of revenue on non-branded titles what if can get a big brand? Maybe that could make us a lot of money," developer Vishal Gondal explains. "On a piece of paper I started writing down the names of every big superhero like Spider-Man and Batman."
“Coincidentally at E3 itself we met the guy who represented Marvel Comics,” he adds. "In that meeting we said that we'd be interested in licensing Spider-Man."
"They didn't know who we were and they never licensed anything like this to a company outside of the US. Before this, no Spider-Man mobile game was made."
Thus began the licensing talks. Marvel initially licensed the rights to Activision, but since Activision hadn't developed the game the rights had to come from Activision and not Marvel directly. It had to be structured as a deal involving Marvel Comics, Activision, and Indiagames.
"Even before we got the license, we started making the game,” Gondal says. “Our goal was the day we get the license, in a few weeks we should launch the game."
"Typically what used to happen was you get the license, you make the game, that takes three to six months and then you launch the whole thing. As we were negotiating the deal with Marvel, the game was already under production so we were ready.”
But the game had a very strict deadline and needed to be released within a tight time frame, and Indiagames was given one month to complete Spider-Man. Their source material was also restricted to the comics, but the studio was given freedom over what kind of game they wanted to develop.
Because of the short deadline, the small team initially took assets from Spider-Man games on Nintendo's Game Boy Advance as placeholders which nearly made it into the final product.
The interview was part of a larger conversation around how the very first Spider-Man game on mobile was developed, so be sure to read the entire piece over at Gadgets 360.