Cryptic Studios, the folks behind City of Heroes/City of Villains, had been working on the Marvel Universe Online MMO until the plug got pulled on that project in February 2008. Cryptic ended up selling all interests in CoH/CoV to NCSoft and shortly thereafter announcing its Champions MMO. Now, Marvel has teamed up with Gazillion Entertainment which has the license to produce MMOs based on Marvel properties.
Unfortunately, the announcement shows why the plug may have been pulled on the Marvel Universe Online MMO,
Gazillion’s new licensing agreement with Marvel calls for the development and publishing of MMO games featuring Marvel’s iconic universe super heroes.The first game in development is a casual MMO for younger audiences based on Marvel’s Super Hero Squad property. Super Hero Squad features an exciting, super-stylized look for the greatest Super Heroes, including Iron Man, Hulk, Wolverine, Thor, Fantastic Four, Captain America and many others.
“Marvel has brought an incredible insight to this project, and that is the goal of creating a full range of persistent world experiences for the entire audience base,” Hutter added. “We’re planning on launching separate games but as additional games are released, they’ll share various levels of connection. The unprecedented nature of Marvel’s multiple MMO strategy not only guarantees an amazing lineup of Casual and AAA MMO games, but further makes it possible for new and dedicated followers alike to interact in a connected series of massively entertaining experiences. We’re also underway on a major new Marvel Universe PC and Console MMO that will introduce a number of breakthrough features which we’ll start discussing in the upcoming months here at Marvel.com.”
Apparently, Marvel has Vista fever — its not a real software product unless you release numerous versions. I’m assuming by “breakthrough features” on the PC/Console MMO we’ll probably be looking at an attempt to make money by having a free game that requires micro-purchases rather than a straight up monthly fee (which is being more widely considered for MMOs in the United States, though I doubt that model will succeed for non-casual MMOs here).