Are Marvel Games in a Connected Universe Like the MCU?

Will you have to play the Spider-Man games to understand the Wolverine game? Or Guardians of the Galaxy?

by J.R. Waugh

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Marvel video games have had a fascinating position in the gaming zeitgeist over the decades, at times attaining legendary status like with 2018’s Spider-Man game on the PlayStation 4, or genre-defining collaborations like Marvel vs. Capcom. In an arena where it’s typically DC that boasts the more consistent modern hits, however, Marvel is only now hitting its stride, hampered a bit by the mixed reception to the 2020 Marvel’s Avengers game. But as fans are eager to see a level of ambitious, interconnected plots and sagas which have made the MCU so successful, you might be wondering if the same could happen for its games. Are Marvel Games in a Connected Universe Like the MCU? Read on to find out!

Are Marvel Games in a Connected Universe Like the MCU?

Marvel-Insomniac-Wolverine

Unfortunately, according to Bill Rosemann, creative director of Marvel Games, there are no plans to link Marvel video games like how the MCU connects their films. His reason for it is sound, as there are multiple different studios, unlike the singular Marvel Studios umbrella under which the MCU operates. The MCU is often rigidly focused on telling a unified story with similar themes and broad appeal, with the odd exception of Universal Pictures having distributed 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, and we all know how little Marvel wants to remember aspects of that movie.

In Rosemann’s defense, this decision is not damning to the company and has allowed them great degrees of freedom to experiment and create bold new ideas for their games. EA Motive, the studio responsible for the upcoming Dead Space Remake, is making an Iron Man game. Skydance New Media’s Captain America and Black Panther game appears more self-contained and focused on delivering an experience central to those 2 characters, instead of eventually shoehorning them into a larger team. Spider-Man’s solo adventures are amazing and critically acclaimed lately, and Insomniac doubling down on that with some Wolverine is nothing but promising, and not intended to tie him into a larger set of games.

Another angle to consider during all of this is, making a connected gaming universe is distinctly less approachable than a cinematic universe, given the price of individual games being higher, and so many of these games are exclusive to certain platforms. It’s not the same as how you can go to virtually any cinema during an MCU release and reasonably expect showtimes for that given movie, because you simply might not have access to this universe when playing on Xbox, with how many games have lately been made exclusive to PlayStation.

But the best justification available is that this gives developers the opportunity for players to immerse themselves into the role of that game’s star character or team, allowing them to be the heroes in focus. This is how licensed video games should be, not a blatant attempt to simply sell more games under the guise of claiming they’re necessary to enjoy the whole story. Each game will take dozens of hours to complete, instead of a couple of hours of viewing time.

Marvel Games should be self-contained experiences, where the only interconnected stories you should hope for are found in sequels, not vaguely related because they’re from the same comics publisher with the selling point of fleshing out a universe.

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