2017 has had plenty of victims. One of them is, oddly enough, the superhero game. Superheroes and villains are incredibly hot right now. Comics from our childhood are being appreciated by a wider audience. This means all sorts of mass media designed to give us more opportunities to see the fictional characters we love. It also means games. Unfortunately, said games are experiencing quite a downturn. Not one, but two Marvel games are no more.
Both the Deadpool and Marvel Heroes games are on their deathbed. Things like licensing issues and a general lack of interest on the part of the series owner have led to their downfall. Deadpool vanished from Steam again this year, the second time it was pulled from digital distributors. Marvel Heroes Omega, a game that only just made its PlayStation 4 and Xbox One debut earlier in 2017, will be cut off on the last day of December 2017. All around, it’s an incredibly sad thing. It kills titles, taking away opportunities for people to save and appreciate them.
I mean, these are popular characters and decent games. Deadpool may not be the best action game, but damn if it didn’t capture the character’s personality and his series’ essence. Marvel Heroes Omega was a respectable Diablo clone that has been existing and innovating since 2013. In each situation, they were on the cusp of popularity resurgences. Deadpool 2 is coming out in June 2018. Thor: Ragnarok was released in November 2017 and was supposed to inspire Marvel Heroes Omega events. That the ball is being dropped on things that are popular and people still tend to want is ludicrous.
And when you think about it, this situation with Deadpool, Marvel Heroes Omega, and all of the other Marvel games that have come and gone due to licensing issues does not paint a pretty picture for the future. Think about what could happen with Lego Marvel Super Heroes or the upcoming Insomniac Spider-Man game. Sure, they may be fine for a few years. But the companies making these games are licensing the characters. They don’t own them. That protections aren’t built in to a game like Deadpool to ensure it will be around for at least five years after its release is insane and bad for consumers. And to suddenly halt an otherwise successful, free-to-play game like Marvel Heroes Omega the same year as a console launch seems unproductive.
This means we could see more situations where suddenly something blinks out of existence. Unless we start getting assurances about things having set contracts that will guarantee listings on digital storefronts for set periods of time, things could get really uncomfortable. I mean, if Deadpool and Thor movies, ones that are successful, can’t convince a company that it is worth renewing licenses and investing in games, then what will? What happens to a game like Injustice 2 when it loses the license rights to Hellboy or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
It is an unfortunate situation that highlights the trouble that comes from an digital age. Companies tend to license out characters and series. When those expire, then the games essentially do too. And even if the rights-holder is the one backing the series, we have seen that some companies very quickly and easily back out. Disney has been incredibly shy about major games, pulling away from Disney Infinity and now Marvel Heroes Omega in the last few years. With these kinds of issues, the future of video games based on existing characters could prove tumultuous.