Where are all the Superhero Games?

Marvel is a hulk-busting giant at the box office, but for some reason cannot find a proper foothold in the gaming market, which turns out to be its kryptonite. What makes it so difficult for superheroes to find success in the industry? It is certainly not the demand or popularity of these heroes that is bogging them down.

A growing grievance with gamers lately is why there are not more superhero games in the market, and despite practically taking over our cinemas in a proper global fashion, there are actually fewer superhero games now than in the past, which doesn’t seem to make much sense at all. The answer might be simpler than one might think as Disney now owns Marvel and they do not like console games. The reason is that Disney is happy to make lucrative mobile and browser games along with the ever-popular Disney Infinity franchise. There has not been a single game based on a Marvel movie since Sega gave up the license for them in 2011 ending their run with the run-of-the-mill Captain America: Super Soldier game that failed horribly. Warner Bros., on the other hand, made zero effort to attempt to create a tie-in to go along with the release of 2012 release of The Dark Knight rises or the 2013 release of Man of Steel.

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From a marketing standpoint, not only do Disney and Warner Bros. have spectacular and popular licenses in other media outlets other than games, they are also aggressively trying to promote colossal mainstream film universes with advanced announcements that moviegoers will not be seeing for two to three years. You think it would make since for them to release games alongside their ever-expanding cinematic universe. On average, gamers receive one or two AAA titles for Marvel or DC franchises each year, begging the question as to not only why their titles are not super high in quality like their characters, but why there are so little games making it to our home consoles. It’s almost as if they are willingly tossing boatloads of money out the window just to watch it burn in the sun, so there must be a reason for the vast wasteland that is the superhero games genre.

Instead of spending time and money on a big video game release, the two would rather invest their money in cheap iOS games or Free-to-Play online titles. Fo the average gamer, however, these types of games are nowhere near as interesting as a major console release. There is obviously a market for mobile games, but putting our beloved heroes as front-runners for them is a major waste of resources. If they were willing to invest some time and money into a AAA title that reaches and distributes the same kind of quality that the Arkham series does, it will not only rake in loads of money, but will change the course of the way superhero games are made in the industry forever.

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Perhaps TQ Jefferson, head of Marvel games, explained the lack of superhero games better than any of us can when he said, “I think the fact that there wasn’t an Avengers game turned out in time for the film is indicative of Marvel’s new attitude and the approach to how we find partners and build games. I think in the heyday of the movie licensed game, these games were popping out all the time and most of them sucked.” Jefferson also said, “It has to hit our three pillars: Fun and engaging gameplay, true to the characters, compelling story. Without hitting those notes, we shouldn’t do it. Gamers, they know better. They’re not going to flock to something that’s sub-par.”

It looks like until the stars align and a fortunate and lucky publisher finds themselves in the right place at the right time to be given the rights to create a top notch superhero game, we will have to pass the time with LEGO games and replaying the Arkham series.