Vivendi to MMOG Marvel Universe

Vivendi to MMOG Marvel Universe

Vivendi Universal Publishing and Marvel Enterprises, Inc. announced today a 10-year worldwide licensing agreement which grants VU Publishing's Games division (VU Games) the right to develop and publish online massively multi-player (OLMMP) games based on Marvel's universe of more than 4,700 superheroes.

The first OLMMP title under the new agreement is targeted for release in 2005. The announcement was made jointly by VU Games Chairman and CEO Ken Cron and Marvel COO Bill Jemas.

The comprehensive deal provides VU Games with access to the entire library of Marvel characters, as well as its worldwide fan base - a large percentage of which comprise the same demographic as the core gaming audience. Additionally, VU Games has obtained the rights to release titles in multiple languages across all existing and future platforms enabling OLMMP game play, including PCs and console-based systems.

OLMMP games, which allow thousands of players to interact online simultaneously, represent a key area of growth for the multi-billion dollar video game industry. Marvel and VU Games will share in revenues generated by subscription fees, product sales and in-game advertising.

We believe there are only a few franchises existing today that are compelling enough to be a leader in the massively multi-player games market and Marvel's universe of superheroes is clearly one of them, said Ken Cron, Chairman and CEO of Vivendi Universal Games. Marvel's enduring characters and fantasy-based storylines appeal to millions of fans worldwide. Its audience spans several generations and includes legions of consumers devoted to its comic books, TV shows and blockbuster movies. The combination of Marvel's strong character franchises with VU Games' global development and marketing capabilities is good news for both companies and great news for gamers, continued Cron.

Marvel wanted to make an aggressive move to establish a strong presence in the burgeoning online gaming arena, and this relationship with VU Games puts us right on the ground floor, Marvel COO Bill Jemas said. Marvel is perfectly suited to massively multi-player gaming as we are a universe unto ourselves. Our fans like to live and breathe their favorite characters and this gives them the opportunity to do that 24 hours a day if they like. Our superheroes have been extremely successful in the video game world as evidenced by the best-selling status of our Spider-Man, X-Men and Blade franchises. By every measure, this is by far the largest and best electronic game deal in the history of Marvel.

This online project marks the latest partnership between Marvel and VU Games, which is also developing next generation video games inspired by The Hulk feature film.

The MMOG market, in many ways, looks like the testing ground for the potential of the video game market. Hailed as the new trend and the next big thing, in gaming, MMOG's already have some big hits under their belt, like Sony's Everquest. It is the staggering number of new games being released that raises the question, where will all the subscribers come from?

Sony have great expectations for Star Wars Galaxies, the online version of the film franchise, set to debut next year. Vivendi are developing an online game based on The Lord of the Rings, while Japanese publisher Square is set to turn its Final Fantasy game series into an online world with the next installment.

Add to those titles the new online games, based on original concepts, such as EA's Earth & Beyond space adventure and the online version of Myst, and try to figure out where all the subscribers will come from.

MMOG's are set to make or break the video game market.