Representatives from Marvel Enterprises have announced that the company has signed a deal with Microsoft Game Studios for a new massively multiplayer online (MMO) game agreement, which will result in new exclusive Marvel-specific online titles for the Xbox 360 console.
Although the games will not be released until 2008, according to news agency Reuters, Marvel worldwide president of Consumer Media Tim Rothwell has indicated that it will be the only such MMO deal the company will make - ensuring that no Marvel MMO can appear on the PlayStation 3 or Revolution.
Although Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk and the X-Men have been mentioned as definitely appearing in the game, it is unclear whether Marvel's existing licensing of its characters with other publishers will restrict some of them from appearing in the game. For example, Electronic Arts' forthcoming Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects
was unable to feature either The Incredible Hulk or The Punisher because of existing licensing relations with Vivendi and THQ, respectively. It is likely, though, that this new deal specifically covers MMOs, and so the vast majority of the 5,000 Marvel properties and characters can be featured.
Peter Moore, corporate vice president of Worldwide Marketing and Publishing for Xbox at Microsoft commented: "With this next generation of gaming, Marvel fans will finally have the ability to create choices with their favorite Super Heroes, villains and creatures in unbelievable detail, all with the power of Marvel's incredible vision and the Xbox platform."
Interestingly, Sony Online has recently announced
that it will be creating a DC Comics-based MMO, targeting a fourth-quarter 2007 release for the PC and unnamed next generation consoles, which would likely not include a Microsoft platform release. Thus, although far away, the stage seems to be set for a Marvel versus DC massively multiplayer game showdown on rival next-gen consoles.