This week, Gazillion Entertainment announced that David Brevik would be placed as studio director at Gargantuan, the studio house developing the Marvel massive multiplayer online game. After originally being scrapped by Cryptic Studios in favor of Champions Online, Gazillion entertainment had been filling its ranks up under the weather by recruiting members of Apple, Blizzard, Pixar and Microsoft Game Studios to create their team.
Now with the addition of David Brevik who has been credited as leader programmer, project lead and design lead of both Diablo games, gamers should feel confident in the studio’s ability to deliver on the multiplayer experience required for a quality MMO. But can the Marvel Universe MMOG survive in a landscape already dominated by the behemoth World of Warcraft. Other properties like the Age of Conan, Lord of the Rings and Warhammer have taken shots at unseating Warcraft but have thus been unsuccessful.
Even other strong properties outside of the medievil time frame have fallen short like the ill-fated Star Wars Galaxies and the Matrix Online. What may be Marvel’s biggest threats though come from the blossoming superhero MMOG genre that has been popping up over recent years, the pinnacle being City of Heroes/City of Villains which came in to legal trouble with Marvel and DC for such robust character creation tools that many players were able to create incredible likenesses of their favorite proprietary heroes.
The City of Heroes/City of Villains were based on original characters from Cryptic which became their own comic series, the first published by Blue King with unknown heroes and the second based on the games iconic heroes like the Statesman which was published by Top Cow. City of Heroes / City of Villains has done a great job carving out a super hero niche in the MMO world.
It did such a good job that instead of a sequel to City of Heroes/City of Villains or the original Marvel MMO, Cryptic opted to go with Champions Online for the PC and XBox 360. Based off a old school pen and paper role-playing game, Champions helped players create characters out of eleven super powered archetypes in a Dungeons and Dragons fashion to play through campaigns. Unique to Champions Online is the nemesis system which will allow players to not only customize their hero, but also create a villain that will periodically appear only in their personal playthrough of the game to thwart their heroic efforts.
Even larger opposition to Marvel could be DC Universe Online (which the Flickcast will be getting a hands on demo of at San Diego Comic Con). DC Universe Online will allow players to create original heroes or villains of their choosing and play through stories where they will come across some of DC’s most iconic such as Superman, Batman, the Green Lantern, the Joker, Killer Croc and more.
As strong a reputation as Cryptic has DC has the brand recognition and advertising budget to expose new fans to a game they may have never been exposed to. Additionally, Marvel must worry about the head start both Champions and DC have on them with both games already having tentative release dates while Marvel is still in its earlier stages of development and no details released yet.
But, even with all that working against it, Marvel still has its diehard fans who are dying to swing alongside Spider-Man on Manhattan’s skyline or stand ready on a battlefield next to Captain America who will hopefully help make it a success.