COMIC-CON: Microsoft, Marvel Sign MMOG Pact

Microsoft Corp. and Marvel Enterprises Inc. today announced at the San Diego Comic-Con Int’l that they have entered into a licensing agreement that gives Microsoft exclusive rights to develop and publish massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) featuring iconic superheroes from Marvel’s vast catalog. The games will be developed for the Xbox 360, the company’s next-generation console, and published by Microsoft Game Studios.

"With this next generation of gaming, Marvel fans will finally have the ability to create choices with their favorite superheroes, villains and creatures in unbelievable detail–all with the power of Marvel’s incredible vision and the Xbox platform,” says Peter Moore, corporate VP of worldwide marketing and publishing for Xbox at Microsoft.

MMOGs enable thousands of players to interact online simultaneously, and represent one of the biggest areas of growth for the multibillion-dollar interactive entertainment industry.

Tim Rothwell, worldwide president of the Consumer Media Group at Marvel Enterprises, comments, “The alliance with Microsoft catapults us into the games category in an unprecedented way. We are very excited to be working with Microsoft to bring our fans what we expect will be a world-class online gaming experience. We also believe online gaming will provide valuable, global exposure to our character brands.”

Specific titles or superheroes to be featured in initial Microsoft releases have not been released. Further details regarding the licensing agreement are expected to be released in the coming months.

In other Marvel game news, the company has granted Majesco rights to develop games based on its Ghost Rider property, which is in production as a feature film starring Nicholas Cage. Now in development at Climax Group, the first Ghost Rider game is scheduled to ship for PlayStation 2 and Xbox in the summer of 2006, in conjunction with the release of the movie from Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios.