Earlier this summer we got an interesting piece of news from the Marvel entertainment empire. It was revealed that they were looking to step up their efforts in console game development, having done quite well in online and mobile spaces. We know that a Spider-Man game is on the way, and according to an interview with VP of games Jay Ong, “it’s the beginning of great things to come.” That quote was specifically in response to a question about whether the Triple-A approach to the Spider-Man game was an indication of what Marvel might look to do moving forward.
So, we know that a serious Spider-Man game will be coming out in the near future, and that games of a similar quality will follow. But what we don’t know is what those follow-ups will look like, or more importantly which subjects and characters they’ll concern. It appears as if the Spider-Man game will not be tied specifically to the upcoming film Spider-Man: Homecoming, so to expect a line of games roughly equivalent to the Marvel Cinematic Universe calendar would probably be misguided. Given that, Marvel could take this new initiative in pretty much any direction it wants.
But here are a few ideas that seem perfect for Marvel console games.
Contest Of Champions
Because they exist on a variety of platforms, it’s tough to identify a definitive “most popular Marvel video game.” But Contest Of Champions, a mobile game from Kabam, is certainly near the top. While it’s a little bit repetitive and has some kinks to work out, the game is an exceptional fighter experience that’s noteworthy mostly in that it keeps adding new characters. The idea of the same game in console form — think Super Smash Bros., but with Marvel heroes and villains — is just too good to pass up. This would theoretically be a pretty easy design compared to some bigger, open world style games that are likely on the way, so it ought to be fairly manageable. And given the popularity of both this style of gaming and the Marvel characters these days, it’s easy to imagine such a title becoming one of the most popular games on major consoles.
Hell’s Kitchen (Arkham Style)
If there’s a series of games at the pinnacle of the superhero genre, it’s Rocksteady’s Arkham franchise, invoking Batman characters and settings. And if Marvel wants to produce any sort of imitation, its best bet is probably the Hell’s Kitchen environment that’s been presented in its Netflix shows, in connection to characters like Daredevil, Elektra, and The Punisher. Incidentally, some of these characters are actually already focal points in Marvel’s extensive lineup of online games. Looking through themed slot games on the internet, it’s quite common to find licensed Marvel characters, and both Daredevil and Elektra headline their own games. In fact, The Punisher has a slot game as well, though it’s based specifically on the film Punisher: War Zone. Marvel could keep up its focus on these characters (as well as Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, who will be attached to them through The Defenders) by craft
ing a dark and gritty open world game in a fictionalized Hell’s Kitchen. It could be like the Arkham games, but allow players to toggle between heroes for different activities.
The Avengers Open World
This is probably the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they imagine major Marvel console games — but it’s also probably the biggest challenge. The idea of a sprawling game consisting of territory on Earth and in space that ropes in all of the major characters from the Avengers films (and the MCU in general) is simply sensational. If executed well, and if created to be as large as modern developmental capability allows, it could become one of the most impressive titles we’ve ever seen. The key would be the smooth integration of different protagonists. Players could either toggle between characters, pick a given number to play with throughout, or automatically switch to a new character for a new challenge or area.
The X-Men are among the most beloved characters from Marvel’s comics, but at least in film they exist on their own plane in projects developed by 20th Century Fox rather than Marvel Studios. One lineup of Marvel console ideas interestingly parsed different groups of characters into different gaming concepts, and in general this seems like something the company might want to avoid. They’ve thrived so much on ensemble presentations that crossover appeal seems like it would be hard to ignore. But there are more than enough X-Men to make up their own game, and because these characters aren’t part of the MCU it might be best if they were left on their own. One fun way to do it would be to create a high-end console RPG featuring the dozens of prominent characters from this particular branch of the comics.
Who knows what we’ll eventually see when Marvel gets into its next phase of game development? But these ideas would certainly get them off to a nice start.