For as long as I can remember I have been a fan of Spider-Man. He was such a big part of my life growing up, as I’m sure he was for many others as well. As the years have passed my perception of Spidey has changed. When I was a little boy he was “Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can”. But as I grew older and was able to understand who the man behind the mask was he quickly became “Spider-Man a hero for the underdog”. And that is what I have learned to love about this character. He looks out for the little guy, he has real-world problems the same as any teenager, and he juggles all of these responsibilities and more while trying to maintain a normal life and duties of a superhero.
I could go on and on about my love for this character, trust me we would be here all day if it was up to me. But I would like to change the subject ever so slightly to a concern that might seem minor to some but might raise some red flags to others. For those of you who are not familiar with the video game industry, there is a brand spanking new game releasing later this year called Marvel’s Avengers that’s being published by Square Enix & developed by Crystal Dynamics. It is set to release on the Playstation 4, Xbox One & PC. For those of you who are familiar with those companies, you could say this game is good hands. Square Enix is mainly known for its Final Fantasy series & Crystal Dynamics is recently known for the Tomb Raider games.
Now we’ve been receiving some pretty juicy info about the latest Avengers game that will be hitting store shelves September 4th, 2020. The team will host live stream events about the game that they have titled “War Table”, which is where they give players updates and show gameplay for the upcoming title prior to release day. Let me tell you, from what I have seen, the game looks fantastic. We’ve seen so many heroes new and old showing off their powers and abilities in the game. We’ve seen Iron Man, Thor, Mrs. Marvel, Captain America, and we even got a glimpse of the first post-launch character, Hawkeye, who looks a hell of a lot better than his MCU counterpart (no offense Jemery Renner but we’re all thinking it).
But, on Monday, August 3rd is when my hype and excited for the game dwindled into a lowly lit flame. The official PlayStation twitter announced that “Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man comes to Marvel’s Avengers, exclusively on PlayStation in 2021 free of charge! Yes, you read that right. Spider-Man will be a playable character exclusively for the Playstation 4″.
Jeff Adams the author behind the Playstation Blog article has expressed a deep commitment to not just how the character plays but his looks as well by stating, “It’s not enough for Spider-Man to just play like he should… he also needs to look like he should. That’s why when going through the process of conceptualizing his suit, we went back to the beginning. Steve Ditko set the standard with his Spider-Man design, and John Romita Sr. evolved it into an icon recognized the world over. Fans can expect to see Ditko and Romita’s influence in our take on the hero, with nods to other talented artists that have defined the character’s look over his long history..” This leads me to believe that Spider-Man is in good hands. However, as much as I appreciated the love and care Spidey was receiving something didn’t sit well with me.
If I wanted to play as my favorite superhero of all time would have to purchase the game on my Playstation 4. Which I wasn’t planning on doing, to begin with. I planned to purchase the game for PC so I can save the world as my favorite characters with my friends, but those plans have flown out the window. It has not been confirmed if Spider-Man is a timed exclusive character.
But given from the tweet that Playstation sent out on Monday, August 3rd, it looks like the web-slinger isn’t coming to Xbox or PC versions on the game. We have seen this type of practice in the past with games like Soul Calibur, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, & Destiny but if you ask me the whole ” Let have exclusive characters\content for the version of our platform of ‘insert 3rd party game here'” is outdated and needs to disappear.
Before I get into the weeds as to why I am opposed to this decision, I would first like to say that I am glad that Spider-Man will be in the new Avenger’s game. I didn’t think crystal dynamics would include him as a character given he already made his debut on the Playstation 4 and soon to be the Playstation 5. At the end of the day, it is a huge win for Spidey and PlayStation gamers. But, I wish I could say that for the rest of us. I will be the first person to say that I do not like this decision excluding Spider-Man from the PC and Xbox versions of the game. I do not find this decision to be in the best interest of gamers everywhere.
Marvel’s Avengers is a 3rd party game that is coming to multiple platforms and the fact that gamers are paying the same price for the same product and not receiving the same content as PlayStation gamers are disappointing. Spider-Man is arguably the world’s most popular superhero & the majority of people that end up purchasing this game will not be able to play as Spidey simply because they prefer to play on different platforms. I can assure you this news is not sitting well with fans.
Ever since this story broke there seems to be a lot of confusion with the ownership of Spider-Man. So I want to make this clear. Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man film. Anything comic, games or any form of merchandise lies still with Disney/Marvel. As far as the Playstation 4 title is concerned it is a different story. Marvel offered to let Sony publish an exclusive game. Sony then approached Insomniac Games about what superhero game they would like to make and they went with Spider-Man out of Marvel’s line up. As far as we know Marvel is still calling the shots to any Spider-Man related.
However, Crystal Dynamics head Scot Amos has commented on the controversy surrounding Spider-Man being exclusive to PlayStation versions of Marvel’s Avengers and I was hoping that they would have a reasonable explanation for the business decision they’ve made. This is was his response, “So the beauty of Spider-Man and what Spider-Man represents as a character in this world is, again, it comes back to the relationship with PlayStation and Marvel. We happen to be ones who can execute and deliver when it comes down to choices of where and what Spider-Man can be, that’s a relationship question that you know PlayStation absolutely has the rights to that as you guys know with Sony’s [movie rights] ownership there and Marvel with Sony saying, ‘hey, this is something we can do, this is something we can do on this platform’ and as creators, we have this opportunity that we can make something unique and fun and awesome”.
At first, I was confused by this statement. I read it 4 times over and I still don’t have a clear translation as to what Scot Amos was referring to. From my understanding it sounds like, In order to keep Spider-Man in the MCU (Sony’s film rights), Marvel had to agree to keep Spider-Man as PlayStation system exclusive (Marvel’s video game rights). Which is pure malarkey? Rights to a video game property should have no business being the realm of being control by a company that has the film rights to Spider-Man.
Crystal Dynamics confirms Spider-Man will be the only console exclusive character for Marvel’s Avenger’s game. They also confirm the character won’t be Insomniac’s version of the character by stating “It’s going to be our version of Spider-Man, inspired by our world.” Which begs the question of why this version of Spider-Man is exclusive to Playstation gamers, to begin with?
Scot Amos also proclaimed “I really do think people look at this and say ‘yeah, okay, we get that we understand the business behind that,’ but in general we’re making this game for everybody we want this to be the place you get to play those superhero fantasies out with my Avengers team that’ll continue growing with new characters, characters you haven’t you even guessed yet that are gonna come to this roster down the road and new regions as well, so I am very excited for what the future holds for everybody on all platforms.” There lies the problem. How are gamers suppose to “Play those superhero fantasies out with my Avengers team” If Xbox & PC gamers are not given the chance with one of the world’s most popular superheroes?
I will never understand why Sony is trying to use all of its resources to get people to buy Marvel’s Avengers on its platform. From a business standpoint, it makes complete sense, but in all my years of playing video games, I have come to understand that the business practices that occur behind closed doors do not always have the consumer’s best intentions in mind. Exclusive heroes come off as anti-consumer, especially when the heroes are the main draw of the game.
We are at the end of a console generation and people have already invested their time and money into the gaming ecosystem of their choice. It rubs me the wrong way that Sony actually thinks that people will purchase their console for the sole purpose of playing as Spider-Man. People already know what system they will be playing this new heroic journey on. It does not make sense to lock the world’s most popular superhero behind a $300 console paywall. Gamers are going to play Marvel’s Avengers on whatever platform they already have sitting underneath the media stands in their homes.
Marvel’s Avengers is set to release on September 4th this year on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Google Stadia & PC.
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