Some of the biggest news in gaming this summer was that Marvel’s new mandate is to make “epic” games for console systems. At the time this news was revealed, there was already word of a new, high-end Spider-Man title. But we didn’t’ know that Marvel would finally be devoting some effort to developing multiple AAA console games, not just for Spider-Man (arguably the company’s most successful hero in gaming) but for a variety of superheroes and storylines. The news was a welcome relief for droves of Marvel fanatics who have long wondered why DC seems to be winning the console war.
But while the announcement of some AAA efforts is certainly exciting, it’s also going to wind up perpetuating a myth—that Marvel hasn’t made a significant dent in the gaming market. This is a somewhat accurate perception regarding the console market, but it actually couldn’t be further from the truth when we talk about the video game industry as a whole. Here’s a look at just a few of the titles that are already out there on easily accessible platforms promoting the Marvel brand.
Just as Spider-Man is arguably Marvel’s best option for console gaming, he’s proven to be a fun character for mobile developers to play around with. In this case it was Gameloft taking a stab at creating an experience around the popular web-slinging hero, and to do it they crafted what might be the most unique endless runner in app stores. Reviews describe the game as a battle through a chaotic Manhattan, taking on the Sinister Six while swinging through settings that look as though they were drawn into a comic book’s pages. Frankly this is a successful game on its own, and its 2014 release was well before Marvel Studios rebooted the Spider-Man character in Captain America: Civil War. But it’s still one more reminder of how much fun fans have with the character.
The Incredible Hulk
This is not actually a mobile game in the traditional sense. Rather, it’s a slot arcade that can be found among the details and gaming options at some of the major online casino sites (some of which do make their games available for mobile users). But it’s nonetheless a pretty triumphant gaming exhibition for Marvel. Using a licensing agreement, presumably from the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk, this game brings the Hulk to life in spectacular fashion as he takes over every aspect of the slot machine. Sure, you’re still spinning a wheel and, if it’s legal wherever you happen to be, playing for real money. But this particular slot truly feels like a deeper experience as a result of its Marvel character integration. Plus, there’s a bonus game in which you get to do some Hulk-smashing of your own, bashing helicopters and police cars out of your path.
Contest Of Champions
Games like the previous examples have done a wonderful job of keeping popular characters present and active in gaming spheres. But the argument can be made that no one title has promoted the Marvel brand more effectively than Kabam’s Contest Of Champions. This is a mobile fighter in which you can collect and battle with a huge array of Marvel characters. But it’s also become a social outlet for Marvel fans, as you can make alliances with other players and enjoy new quests and challenges alongside them. And perhaps most impressively, the game has led to a whole new comic series and even introduced new characters like Guillotine, Venompool, and the Civil Warrior.
These are just three examples out of many. There are other standalone character games, other licensed slot experiences, and other ensemble collections of Marvel heroes and villains. But in headlining these different categories, these games show just how much Marvel has already done to reach out to its fans through technology and mobile and online gaming in particular.