Despite being a writer for Xbox Enthusiast, I’ve been playing Spider-Man nonstop since Friday. The PlayStation 4 exclusive is phenomenal, and honestly, a reason to invest in the console if you don’t have one. Playing through Insomniac’s latest masterpiece got me thinking; Microsoft needs to make a deal with Marvel.
Think about it, Spider-Man is making records. It’s already the fastest selling video game of the year and the “the fastest-selling Marvel game ever.” The reasons why the sales numbers are large are because the game is receiving stellar reviews and also because Spider-Man is one of the most iconic superheroes. Ask anybody to name a superhero, and I guarantee many people will name Spider-Man among others.
It makes sense that other companies should look to capitalize on the superhero craze. There are so many superheroes that deserve the spotlight. From single characters like Venom, The Punisher, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, and Captain Marvel to groups like The Defenders and X-Men, there are so many games that could be developed. Whether Microsoft wants to use internal developers like Ninja Theory or Playground Games or work with a third-party as Sony did with Insomniac to bring Spider-Man to PlayStation 4, there are countless possibilities.
One of my issues with Microsoft is that a lot of the company’s games focus on multiplayer among everything else. Sea of Thieves and State of Decay 2, two exclusives that launched early this year, lost my interest because of online emphasis. Buying Compulsion Games, Playground Games, and Ninja Theory, and opening The Initiative, show that Microsoft is investing in single-player. While multiplayer extends the life of some games, there are players out there who don’t care for it. I enjoy multiplayer, but sometimes, I rather play something that only demands 20-30 hours of my time.
Venom could be an open-world game like Spider-Man with more emphasis on action. Captain Marvel could be a Superman-styled video game with Earth and space-based missions. The Punisher would be a gritty third-person action game (one that Ninja Theory could masterfully develop). If Microsoft wanted to make a superhero game that could be played with friends, The Defenders and X-Men are two groups that could benefit from single-player and multiplayer components.
Smart business deals often lead to excellent results. On Friday, when I picked up my second PlayStation 4 Pro (the Spider-Man console), the store had plenty of other bundles that people were picking up. Sony took a shot with Spider-Man and worked alongside a talented developer. The result is looking like a huge win for Sony. Imagine want could happen if Microsoft decided to do the same thing. Making a game based on a popular property, releasing a bundle with a limited edition console, and unleashing a massive marketing campaign that spans through billboards, active Twitter advertisements, and nonstop commercials on TV, and Microsoft could have a hit on its hands.
I would’ve suggested a partnership with DC but since WB Games has the license for characters in the DC brand, I don’t sense a partnership with Microsoft being a possibility. Marvel, on the other hand, is open to working with different companies and development studios. Telltale Games worked on Guardians of the Galaxy and Crystal Dynamics and Ubisoft are working on bringing The Avengers to consoles. Additionally, TT Games developed the various LEGO games in the Marvel Universe. Marvel allows studios to take creative liberties with its characters, and the results have been great so far.
Microsoft is in need of a killer app for the Xbox brand. Halo, Gears of War, and Forza are great, but there needs to be something else. A partnership is something that would work in Microsoft’s favor. An exclusive Marvel game could prove to be a game-changer. Part of me wants Microsoft to play it safe and go with more recognizable characters, but it could be a bold experiment to work with characters that fit the more mature vibe that Xbox exclusives usually contain. The Punisher would be a very M-rated video game, and Moon Knight could be the console’s take on the Batman: Arkham franchise.
Spider-Man is setting a new precedent when it comes to partnerships between big companies. The game got many people to pick up a PlayStation 4 for the first time, or in my case, buy another console just for an exclusive. Microsoft has become more competitive over the past few years. Between Xbox Game Pass, Backward Compatibility, and the investment in new studios, Microsoft is right back in the game. While these latest moves are excellent, Microsoft can still do more to put Xbox in the lead. My key to success is getting into business with Marvel. The company is at the top of the world, killing it with comics, video games, and hit movies every year. Making a deal with Marvel will only work in Microsoft’s favor. Spider-Man is the perfect example of a partnership resulting in a massive success. While there are so many companies that can learn from Microsoft, I think it’s time for Microsoft to take a page from Sony’s book and look at how the success of Spider-Man is working wonders for PlayStation 4. Microsoft and Marvel could make a killing for the Xbox brand, and I think it’s a Marvelous idea.