Executive vice president and head of Marvel Games Jay Ong has revealed in a book that both Xbox and PlayStation were approached about making Marvel video games but only one of the console makers accepted the offer.
A look around the gaming landscape reveals exactly which one, too: PlayStation, the company with an exclusive Spider-Man franchise, and an upcoming Wolverine game. And over on the Xbox side, you won’t find any new Marvel games developed by an Xbox studio because according to Ong, the company declined Marvel’s offer, opting instead to focus on its own IP, as reported by Video Games Chronicle.
The book, Steven L Kent’s The Ultimate History of Video Games Vol 2, houses an excerpt where Ong explains this deal and how it led to Marvel prematurely terminating a contract it had with Activision to make Spider-Man games. Ong says in the book that Marvel was unhappy with Activision’s Spider-Man titles and the two companies came to an agreement to end the licensing deal early. Ong said that Activision then asked him, “What are you going to do with this IP after you get it back?” Ong said, “I’m going to find a better home for it,” to which, Activision replied, “Good luck finding your unicorn.”
As we now know, that unicorn wasn’t going to be Xbox because it turned down the offer after Marvel Games reached out asking, “We don’t have any big console deals with anyone right now, what would you like to do?” PlayStation, however, bit.
“I sat down with these two execs from PlayStation third-party, Adam Boyes [now co-CEO of Iron Galaxy Studios] and John Drake [now vice president of business development for Walt Disney Games], in August 2014, in a conference room in Burbank,” Ong says in the book. “I said, ‘We have a dream that this is possible, that we could beat [Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham franchise] and have one game at least and maybe multiple games that could drive adoption of your platform.”
PlayStation reportedly responded by asking to make a console-exclusive Spider-Man game and that turned out to be Marvel’s Spider-Man, released in 2018. Spider-Man reviewed quite well and, as VGC notes, sold more than 20 million copies. It also spawned Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and a sequel to both in the form of Spider-Man 2 is now in development. Plus, Insomniac’s Spider-Man success likely led to them getting to develop its Wolverine game as well.