Despite the success achieved with movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which have been ongoing since the first Iron Man released in 2008, there haven’t been as many video game adaptations as one might expect. Marvel gave select developers a shot with certain franchises early on with tie-ins for Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America, and Thor, though all of them turned out as well as game adaptations usually do (i.e. mediocre-to-poor). They were published by Sega, and handled by western developers who were shuttered after the quality of their titles was deemed unsatisfactory, though that may not have been their fault. After Disney purchased Marvel, however, these projects became lower-budget mobile efforts, regardless of their potential.
Fortunately, they’ve received that message. We somewhat saw that Marvel was investing in AAA video game adaptations again with the reveal of Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man for PS4 at E3 2016, though that might have started development before Sony Motion Pictures gave the character to Marvel. Beyond that, Telltale is handling an episodic Guardians of the Galaxy series, which still hasn’t been shown in motion. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite from Capcom was also announced, the newest title in the fighting series that it borrows a little from Marvel Super Heroes and the first Marvel vs. Capcom, rather than being a direct successor to Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
To no surprise, Marvel and Disney aren’t stopping there, as the newest announcement is a team-up with Square Enix for multiple projects. In true Square Enix fashion, the reveal video showed very little, and focused on objects like Captain America’s shield and Thor’s Mjölnir. This let the viewer know they’re working on Avengers projects; as in, it’s clearly more than one project, since it was confirmed that both Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal are working on them. More information about them won’t be revealed until sometime in 2018, so I hope you’re the patient type.
Given the companies behind them, these should join the three titles mentioned above in proving that licensed Marvel games can be good nowadays. Crystal Dynamics is currently known for the Tomb Raider series, though plenty of others remember them from the Gex and Pandemonium days in the late 90s. They handled three Tomb Raider games with the old Lara Croft after they were given the franchise from Core Design, before rebooting the series with their own take on the character and world in 2013. Even the worst game from them in recent memory is at least good, so this Marvel game should follow.
Meanwhile, Eidos Montreal is primarily known for the recent Deus Ex games, Human Revolution and Mankind Divided. Both have been regarded as great, though the former is given the edge thanks to having more content and a complete story. Their title should also be in good hands.
Or should that be “titles?” Crystal Dynamics is working on one game, since they’re still not that large of an outfit despite doing some hiring in recent months. But word from Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, who’s been a reliable source in the past, is that Eidos Montreal is working on two Marvel-related titles. They’re a much bigger outfit, which means they’re working on this in addition to Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which leaked late last year. This sadly means things don’t bode well for a new Deus Ex coming in the near future.
That’s a shame, too. It’s not just that Deus Ex is a great series that works as relevant social commentary with the demoralizing current state of world affairs, but Mankind Divided left its story incomplete. But if the above information is true, that story won’t be complete anytime soon — if ever. Reports suggested Mankind Divided sold poorly compared to Human Revolution, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the company wants to give the series a rest for a little while, despite its story not being complete. Of course, it would have been preferable if they finished it anyway, to give the fanbase a feeling of closure before this apparent hiatus. They felt it was the best idea to prioritize the Marvel projects, which are guaranteed to sell well, all too necessary a factor for the modern AAA risk-averse world.
Though we won’t actually see these games until next year, expect Marvel and Square Enix to give clues as to precisely what kind of titles they’re working on. Just because facets of the main Avengers teams were shown in the teaser doesn’t mean all of them are Avengers games per se.
Between potentially three games between Marvel and Square Enix, and the three already-announced games, everyone who continued asking “Why aren’t there any AAA MCU games?” over the last few years should be satisfied. Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy will start releasing sometime this year, while MvC Infinite should arrive in the fall. Sony hasn’t said precisely when Spider-Man for PS4 will release, but it should come alongside the home release of Spider-Man Homecoming in the fall. Between these and future DC efforts, you can’t say you won’t have plenty of superhero games to bide your time with. Whether that’s too many will be determined.