Activision quietly removes Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and both The Amazing Spider-Man games from digital storefronts after alleged licensing issues.

Anyone who wanted to buy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan or either of the two The Amazing Spider-Man games will find themselves disappointed as Activision has been removing these titles from the digital shelves over the last few days, most likely due to licensing issues with trademark holder Marvel. All three games remain available in physical form at time of writing.

The removal of these titles by Activision from digital stores like Steam, the PlayStation Store, the Xbox Store, and the eShop has been done quietly so far, with no announcement from the AAA developer. It has raised little cry among consumers, either, as games already purchased from these vendors remain playable; the titles have been removed from stores, not libraries. What makes it odd is that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan has only been out for a little over eight months, which is rather quick for it to be pulled again.

So far Activision has remained silent as to the why of it all, though speculation points toward a licensing issue with Marvel, the owner of both franchises. The comic-book publisher has demanded game developers remove games in the past – a few years ago Activision also was forced to take Deadpool and the X-Men games out of circulation – and it seems these recent three have quietly resigned themselves to their fate.

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Why Marvel keeps demanding these recalls is somewhat uncertain, though in the case of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan it could very well be that many considered it to be one of the worst games of 2016. In fact, it seems to be common for Marvel video games too be rather less than expected. Though there are many possible reasons for this, a clue may lie in an interview given by TQ Jefferson, Marvel’s VP of games production, back around the time the comic-book publisher ended their partnership with Sega.

“The biggest afflictions affecting movie-licensed games is the amount of development time and a strict adherence to retelling the story of the film in the form of a game,” Jefferson said when asked why so many of the Marvel games made by Sega were just terrible. Keeping game developers to the same schedule and structure is likely not going to pan out well, seeing as how both mediums have wildly differing narrative structures and Marvel seems to have not quite learned this lesson yet.

Having Activision pull their titles from Steam and the like every time a game bombs seems to be a counter-productive strategy, though, as all it does is once again draw attention to games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan, which most seem to had forgotten about except for a short entry in the annual hall of shame articles. Though Marvel may think that out of sight is out of mind, they could also find that gamers have long memories.

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