Now that Sony Online Entertainment finally has DC Online up and running, fans of the Marvel Universe have probably been wondering when they'll get to mingle with the likes of Wolverine, Captain America and the Black Cat (she's hot in those black tights, admit it). The wait for the first details is finally over.
Marvel originally enlisted Cryptic Studios to develop the super-hero MMO years ago, but then canceled the project in February 2008 primarily due to the competitive market for subscription-based MMOGs. Then in July 2009, Gazillion Entertainment announced that former president of Blizzard North and Diablo creator David Brevik had signed on to lead the development in the rejuvenated Marvel Universe MMO project.
"I’m a huge fan of comic books, Super Heroes, and MMORPGs, so the chance to lead the creative efforts for the Marvel Universe MMO is an amazing opportunity," he said. "Gazillion’s mission to bring MMOs to the mainstream while maintaining the depth in gameplay that enthusiast gamers demand is something that deeply resonates with me. Marvel is a perfect fit for this mission, and I couldn’t imagine a better venue to announce our efforts than Comic-Con."
Little else on the game's development has been revealed until last night when Marvel introduced Brian Michael Bendis as the game's story writer, the mastermind behind most of the major events taking place in the Marvel Universe in recent history. The introduction was made live during a presentation in San Francisco which also revealed that-- unlike DC Universe where characters are generated from scratch--gamers would actually get to play popular Marvel superheroes.
During the show, Bendis told the audience that he's secretly been working on the game for several months. "The reason that I was so desperate to be a part of this is that I’m a big believer that the Marvel universe is more than just this fantasy universe, it’s kind of a lifestyle for a lot of people," he said. "It reminds me of what Stan Lee did in the 60’s by making the audience part of Marvel."
According to TQ Jefferson, VP of Games Production at Marvel, the game won't launch with just a top-ten list of characters to play. "The Marvel Universe MMO is going to launch with more characters than any Marvel game to date," he said. "It’s not just going to be the top ten or twelve characters, it’s going to be a monster list of characters."
Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Squirrel Girl and Nova were a few of the heroes mentioned.
But given Marvel's huge audience, it's surprising that the subscription-based model was ditched for free-to-play. "We’re really going to turn the MMO world on its head," said Gazillion president and CEO David Brevik. "This [is being] designed as a free play game from the ground up, which is a very different approach most people are taking these days. We really want to make this a legitimate experience, a compelling experience."
To see the press event in its entirety (it's about 1:26:00 in length), Marvel saved a copy for your viewing pleasure here.