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Vicarious Existence

To blog about what is going on in the MMO genre from a casual MMO player's viewpoint.

Author: UnSub

Gazillion Signs Deal With Marvel For A MMO et al, Will Likely Crash and Burn

Posted by UnSub Tuesday March 17 2009 at 9:30AM
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Today Gazillion Entertainment exploded onto the MMO scene with the news that it has an exclusive 10 year deal with Marvel Comics and is going to have it's first MMO out in 2010 aimed at kids. Also, it is made up of four studios, of which NetDevil and Slipgate Ironworks are the established ones and two new studios in Amazing Society and Gargantuan. I count seven MMOs (perhaps a stand alone game are part of their vague ideas) planned to come out of four studios. It has raised funds from some big investment houses, probably off the idea that MMOs are recession proof.

Things don't look good.

First off, if NetDevil and Slipgate Ironworks are your 'established' MMO companies (my term, but they are known) things are off to a bad start. NetDevil has two failed MMOs under its belt - Jumpgate and Auto Assault - and is hanging its hat on a Jumpgate sequel / update and the LEGO MMO who's concept art makes me scratch my head. Slipgate Ironworks is John Romero's (of Daikatana infamy) studio who has been working on a MMO for a while now with nothing to publicly show for it.

The Amazing Society is meant to be releasing its kid-friendly Marvel MMO named Super Hero Squad (based on Hasbro's Super Hero Squad figures which are licensed from Marvel) in 2010. Good luck with releasing a new MMO - I'm expecting Marvel's version of FusionFall - from a new studio in less than two years. Especially since it is going to be associated with a new cartoon series launching in 2009. I can't really imagine Super Hero Squad Online getting that much of a run if the cartoon series flops.

Gargantuan Studios is developing the Marvel Universe MMO. Let's hope they fare better than Vivendi / Wolfpack, Microsoft / Sigil and Microsoft / Cryptic. The last 10 year exclusive MMO deal that Marvel signed lasted less than 3 years.

I see four studios, major IPs, lots of plans and mentions of how much money Marvel films make or the MMO industry is worth and think of Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment and FireSky. Also, it seems like the F2P / microtransaction model is the core of Gazillion's revenue plan. That's fine - I don't shun RMT out of hand - but every successful F2P title out there there are a lot of second tier or those that end up in the gaming graveyard.

Gazillion has launched with a lot of promises, but it feels to me like one big bluff.

Annwyn writes:

I'm going to have to bury the topic :P not because I hate you but they are a few things in this world that should not be adapated into a MMO and this includes Marvell.

Stick with the comics and movies and don't waste your time on MMOs which will probably have a very small audience considering the fact that they plan on releasing 7 "at the same time". It's like throwing all your fish baits into the sea hoping at least one will work. Doesn't make any sense. Let CoH/CoV and Champion Online rule the "Comic MMO" world and stick with comics and movies.

Tue Mar 17 2009 12:09PM Report
Sargoth writes:

Game experiance may change during online play....

Hey Billie, a/s/l?  Kidie mmo's are bad mmmkay?

Tue Mar 17 2009 12:51PM Report
talismen351 writes:

As if one underpopulated super hero game wasn't enouph. Why keep adding to the collection? How is this one gonna be sooo much different than CoH? Least with fantacy/sci-fi you can change setting n such. But Super Heroes seem to always be in some big city saving the everyday Joe Boxer.

Tue Mar 17 2009 7:21PM Report
dolanite writes:

"NetDevil has two failed MMOs under its belt - Jumpgate and Auto Assault"

That's a little harsh. Auto Assault was a failure by any measure, but Jumpgate? It still has a server going. Granted, that's not a success, but it's still floating after 8 years.

"Slipgate Ironworks is John Romero's (of Daikatana infamy) studio"

Daikatana infamy... and Wolfenstein 3d, Doom, and Quake fame. Granted, he may not have had too many hits in the last few years, but he's still at least in part responsible for the birth of a modern gaming genre.

Snipy half-truths like this don't help your argument, which would have stood fine on the rest of your piece. Not to be mean, but I usually enjoy your posts, so I just found this surprising.


Wed Mar 18 2009 8:00AM Report
UnSub writes:

@dolanite: I count Jumpgate as a failed MMO because it was closed down. It's barely known outside of a very niche group. That NetDevil runs a server doesn't count it as a success and, once Jumpgate Evolution launches I'd say it is probably a safe bet that Jumpgate isn't going to be around for long.

As for John Romero, I did think putting in 'ex-id Software' but it is Ion Storm and Daikatana that he is most notorious for. Although he was there at id for a number of seminal FPSs, the fact that Daikatana was such a failure on all levels really erodes his place as key developer at id during that time. Carmack has ended up with that glory instead.

Also, nothing has been heard out of Slipgate Ironworks for a while now (i.e. nearly 2 years) and I'd believed that Romero has moved on to developing games for mobile phones (which might be a different company that he's involved in). That the other titles he's been linked to haven't done well either also isn't a good sign for whatever MMO he might develop.

In short: I don't consider either NetDevil or Slipgate Ironworks studios to crow about. What have they done that is successful?

Wed Mar 18 2009 9:41PM Report
Eindrachen writes:

I think the blog entry is pretty spot-on.  Yes, there is some hope of a Marvel MMO succeeding with the current business venture, but soem of the gears making up that machine are a bit rusty.  NetDevil has some good ideas, but they seem to have trouble getting them to market successfully.  I'm not sure what the exact problem is, but I think they have been too fond of niche settings in their games.  Auto Assault would have been an utterly fantastic online FPS-style game using vehicles instead of people, but an MMO?

Now, John Romero kinda has some star quality about him, but in honesty, we have to seriously ask ourselves what he track record has been in recent times, and what kind of game he is actually famous for making.

Yes, in his heyday, Romero was a darling for gaming... of shooter games.  But then he somehow got to a bad place.  Daikatana alone merits some scorn (remember, he promised it would "make you his bitch", and ended up on the wrong side of a critic's gangbang), but anyone can make one mistake, so let's skip over it and look at the rest of his career.

Things there don't look swell.  He worked on some cell phone games, and was temporarily involved in Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows, and worked on Area 51.  That's pretty much it, other than Gazillion and supposedly working on Severity, another FPS game.

I hate to be negative on this issue, but the blog entry is correct: this isn't exactly blowing any wind in my sail.  I would like to see a Marvel MMO, but we gotta ask ourselves if the current team said to be working on it is capable of getting it to market.  Me, I have doubts on that one.

That's totally aside from the fact that Marvel themselves are kinda stupid about how they deal with their IP being used in the market there.  But that's a whole different argument there...

Fri Mar 27 2009 5:07AM Report writes:
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