Marvel Comics MMORPG on the way?

Well, this explains why Marvel lawyers have been laying the smack down on the City of Heroes community recently.

Marvel and Vivendi teaming up. Talk about your Axis of Evil.

Great. Now they can sue their own fans for ripping off the superpowers.

Lest this gets dismissed as false news, here’s Vivendi’s press release.

Uh, but wait, I’m confused. That press release is dated 2002?

It happened in 2002 and then the deal fell through. If the first post link above is right (and CGW has a story about this for Jan), I assume Marvel saw how well CoH is doing and came back to the table with Vivendi.

With the lawsuit in full swing it’s going to be interesting to see Marvel facing up to the main problem, which is everyone can’t get to play the “name” superheroes. Perhaps “The Purple Hulk” will rise again.

More importantly, Vivendi never found a developer for the Marvel Superheroes MMOG (though they did look, half-heartedly.) So it isn’t coming without someone to make the game.

He’ll probably have green pants.

See, I don’t think this will fly (no pun intended) the same way CoH has. The brilliant thing about CoH is that it does not have any well-known or pop culturally ubiquitous heroes. Nobody wants to be anyone else, they want to invent their own hero and run around with all the other heroes. Once you make it into the Marvel Universe, people want to be Spider-Man or Wolverine or whatever, and then settle for some cheap knockoff. Setting it in a known universe will dilute the play experience, I think.

I don’t know about diluting the play experience, but I really don’t see the appeal of a Marvel MMOG. There aren’t enough name characters to go around, so you’d have to create an anonymous guy or gal in tights, just like in CoH. The only difference would be that you’d occasionally see big-name Marvel heroes flying or swinging around, and would be able to take on big-name Marvel villains.

Is this enough to sell a Marvel MMOG? I’m thinking a lot of comic geeks will originally think “Cool! I can get to be the real Spider-Man now!” but then change their minds when they realize that at least 50,000 other people are thinking the same thing.

Strangely, I’d say the Matrix game is the only license based MMORPG that I can see working, at least with regard to how they use the license. Unless you count Warcraft as a license, which it technically is I guess.

I’m curious why Marvel is trying to compete with NCSoft instead of partnering with them. Trying for a new game sounds like an all-or-nothing approach, and Marvel doesn’t have the critical first-mover advantage.

  • Alan

According to the blurb I read in one of the mags (CGM maybe?) there are 4700 or so Marvel superheroes. If you limit each server to 4k players, you could have them all be a Marvel hero. Granted, only one person could be Thing, Wolverine, Spider-Man, etc., but I wouldn’t mind that. In fact, I like the idea. I don’t mind playing one of the more obscure characters at all. Some of them have excellent powers (Molecule Man, anyone?). Besides, in YOUR Marvel universe, you could raise Iron Fist from obscurity to monstrous popularity, so that the Bugle writes about him rather than Spider-Man and those other clowns.

I got dibbs on Deadpool!

But seriously though, I don’t want to join a game only to be an alternate universe red-shirt in a Shi’ar Empire landing party in the Age of Apocolapyse or something. I think even if that 4,700 number is accurate, no one’s going to want to be at least 4,000 of that.

Also, will patches be called retcons?

WoW can’t meaningfully be called licensed, because the central fact of licensing is that you’re getting the right to borrow somebody else’s fame, in exchange for letting go of creative control. Blizzard isn’t making that tradeoff, and is getting the best of both worlds.

I do agree that a Marvel superhero game is going to have problems. As Schmidt points out, nobody wants to be anything but the most famous superheroes. When given the choice between playing Molecule Man in the Marvelverse and Silver Fire the crotchety mage in NCSoftia, I’ll go with the idea I picked out myself. I don’t even mention the technical difficulties involved in creating even two hundred unique and fairly balanced superheroes, based on comic-book descriptions of powers, in some cases not even fully described to the point where you could create ten levels of progression out of it.

The more likely answer for Marvel is to just use their universe and canon and make a superhero creation tool that is equal to or better than NCSoft’s - but given that the superheroes are the license, that would be tantamount to admitting that the Marvel license isn’t really worth all that much. And what are they going to do, have a Marvelverse where all the real superheroes suddenly are debilitated and can only serve as advisors? “Hey, I may be Spiderman, but I had to retire because I lost my vision, so now I’m just the guy who gives long-term missions.”

Seems like the thing to have done here would have been to create CoH: Marvel Edition. They could be up and running in months, Marvel and NcSoft could split the proceeds instead of making lawyers rich, and everyone’s happy!

Since that’s not going to happen, perhaps DC will see the potential. CoH: The DC Universe.
(I call G’nort!)[/size]

Well, if it is anything like the current Marvel comics situation, 4 out of 5 characters created will automatically be part of the X-Men or will actually be Spider Man.

If you are able to create a relatively popular, long-lasting character that forms a team, you still run a chance of your character being deleted and the group recreated by Brian Michael Bendis.

Additionally, a Wolverine NPC will be automatically added to any parties you create.

If they do DC, I got dibbs on anyone but Jason Todd.

A Marvel or DC exp pack would make no sense. There could only be one Wolverine et al, and that character would have to be played by someone other than the typical MMOG player.

Plus there’s still no PvP in CoH, without the City of Villains exp pack. Marvel’s just flexing its legal muscle, it does that from time to time.

I’m guessing they’re going to wish they had some Super Soldier Serum after this one is over.

heh, that alternate universe stuff actually sounds pretty cool…i think that means it won’t happen :)

btw: here’s the meta-human that kicked dr doom’s ass that i want to see come to be the most renown super: