Comic-Con 2006: Video games lure Comic fans

San Diego (CA) - Would you like a computer case with that issue of Batman ? The 37th annual Comic-Con comic book convention kicked off in San Diego and it isn’t just about comics anymore. Now, traditional paper comics must compete for attention with computer hardware companies and video game developers. TG Daily strolled through the exhibit halls and found many familiar companies playing their wares.

See what happened at Comic-Con 2006 ...

Attendees, some dressed as Spiderman and Batman, crowded into Comic-Con’s exhibit hall on Thursday. The majority of the huge exhibit floor was still taken up by comic book dealers, art and photo sellers, and artist tables. Famous and soon to be famous comic book artists manned tables and were ready to doodle up a quick sketch - sometimes for free, but often for money. But a sizable chunk in the hall’s center was taken up by massive booths showing off the latest games.

Familiar companies like THQ, Activision and Warner Brothers Interactive were showing off comic book related games. Attendees could play THQ’s Monster House game which is based on the upcoming animated movie. Two other game companies, Activision and Warner Brother’s, dueled it out with games based on the two titans of the comic book world : DC and Marvel.

Hordes of Marvel fans crowded into the Activision booth to gawk at a demo of Marvel Ultimate Alliance. In the game, Marvel favorites like Captain America, Wolverine and Spiderman must work together to fight off Doctor Doom, an evil genius with an iron-covered face. More than 140 Marvel characters are in the game, but only 20 of them will be playable.

Superman and the Green Lantern battled side-by-side at the Warner Brothers Interactive Booth. Employees showed off the upcoming Justice League Heroes which includes major super heroes like Superman, Green Lantern, Batman and Wonder Woman from DC Comics. Justice League Heroes appeared to be further along in development than Marvel Ultimate alliance because Warner Brothers employees were actually playing the game, while mostly pre-rendered video was shown at the Activision booth.

Blizzard Entertainment, NCSoft and Mythic Entertainment also had booths to show off their latest and upcoming massively multiplayer online games (MMOG). World of Warcraft fans constantly streamed into Blizzard’s booth to play Burning Crusade, an upcoming WoW expansion pack. Several Blizzard Community Managers also showed up and "Nathaera" was kind enough to pose for us. The CMs manage Blizzard’s official WoW forums and take the brunt of abuse from disgruntled players.

NCSoft had about a dozen machines running City of Heroes, City of Villians and Lineage. Employees told us that no new content was being shown, but that the booth gave a chance to introduce the games to comic fans.

Computer hardware vendors were also nestled in between the game companies. Alienware, Ageia, Antec and C4Mousepads all had small kiosks or tables inside of the MaximumPC booth area. Intel representatives were also there, cheering on players and giving gaming advice.

Comic-Con may look like it’s turning into a miniature version of the Electronic Entertainment Expo ; however, hardly any hardware and game developers made announcements or showed new content for Comic-Con. Indeed many of the game demos and videos were similar to the ones we saw at the Electronic Entertainment Expo last May. Representatives from several exhibiting companies told us that booth space at the Comic-Con was fairly cheap, especially when compared to E3. Plus, Comic-Con provides an opportunity to reach an untapped audience.