With E3 a mere two weeks away, one game that’s received relatively little attention is that of Marvel’s upcoming MMO. Set to appeal to the “core MMO” gamers and long-time comic fans while Super Hero Squad Online captures the kiddy market, there’s been very little information released about the title (we’ll refer to it as Marvel Universe Online) outside of the Marvel MMO announcement event a few weeks back where Brian Michael Bendis was confirmed to be the main writer, secretly working on it for two years.
Arguably the most important selling point of the game is that it will be free-to-play. As for what platforms it will be available on, they kept information on this very close to the chest, saying that they’re only talking about PC at this point, but hinting that it could (will) be playable on other platforms. So, outside of PC, what consoles will the new Marvel MMO be playable on?
First, some history: Marvel teamed with Microsoft and Cryptic Studios years ago to develop Marvel Universe Online but Microsoft canned the project due to fierce competition in the market. Blame World of Warcraft. Cryptic continued on, using their work and assets to develop Champions Online and Marvel bided their time, waiting for the right opportunity to attack the MMO market once again.
In the meantime, competitor DC Entertainment launched a “core MMO” of their own with Sony Online Entertainment. It’s called DC Universe Online and is available for PC and PlayStation 3. The key here is that Sony runs the game.
Let’s look at this from the perspective of Captain Obvious: If Sony is running DC Universe Online, a game which charges a subscription fee, exclusively on the PS3 for the console market, guess what upcoming game they will not be allowed on their console? It’s safe to say that Marvel’s free MMO will not be available on the PS3 in order to protect DCU.
That being said, a project this big, one that will undoubtedly tie into the release of The Avengers film next year (read: the biggest comic book movie/event of all time), absolutely will be available on more than just the PC.
Could it be that Marvel and Microsoft have rekindled their relationship to again attempt to offer a new MMO exclusive to the Xbox 360? It’s very possible and it would explain that even after Marvel Universe was canned, they kept tight-lipped about key concepts about the game (i.e. custom characters vs. playing as Marvel characters). We also cannot forget that in 2009, former Microsoft Game Studios Exec Stuart Moulder joined Gazillion Entertainment as a Vice President. He’s a veteran in the online gaming space and has strong ties to Microsoft Game Studios.
An even more intriguing possibility is that the Marvel MMO will be a selling point of Nintendo’s new “hardcore” console which will be unveiled in two weeks at E3. Could Marvel make a very big announcement during Nintendo’s press conference? Outside of the console coming, Nintendo has a lot of titles to show off that they’ve managed to keep secret.
A May 20th tweet from the Marvel MMO Twitter account (@MMMSociety) denies that they will be at E3 this year:
“Sorry! We will not be at E3 this year and we haven’t discussed platforms yet.”
Why would Marvel announce the game with very few details a month before E3 without planning on releasing more at the world’s biggest gaming event? Why would the Twitter account for this Marvel MMO link to a Tumblr page that requires a password and not give it out within a few weeks? Interest would be lost and the timing of the announcement would be pointless if they don’t aim to take advantage.
This leads me to believe that Marvel, capitalizing on the summer’s hype around the releases of Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger in July, will make a move in the gaming market soon. They sure need it after Thor: God of Thunder proved to be one of the year’s worst video games and possibly Marvel’s worst video game of all time.
For now, read our analysis of the Marvel Universe Online details revealed so far.