Microsoft Declined Marvel’s Offer to Make Exclusive Games, According to New Book

Marvel’s vice president of games, Jay Ong, recently disclosed that when approached to develop exclusive games based on Marvel franchises, Microsoft turned down the offer, leading to Sony and Insomniac to create the now beloved Marvel’s Spider-Man on the PlayStation 4.

This is all according to an interview published in video game historian Steven L. Kent’s new book The Ultimate History of Video Games, Volume 2: Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, and the Billion-Dollar Battle to Shape Modern Gaming.

In the book, which released last August, Ong explains that when he was hired in May 2014, his first task was to figure out why Marvel’s video games weren’t having the same success as their movie franchises. He concluded that, while there were exceptions like Marvel vs. Capcom and Ultimate Alliance, too many publishers wished to only crank out “crappy licensed games” for a quick return.

He states that he went to both Xbox and PlayStation, asking to broker a deal for exclusivity. Microsoft, according to Ong, chose to focus on the properties that they already owned, and passed on the opportunity.

Sony, on the other hand, were enthusiastic about the offer. Scott Rohde, senior vice president of product development for Sony Interactive Entertainment, propositioned making a “triple-A PlayStation exclusive Spider-Man game.” Ong was worried that this couldn’t come to fruition however, as Activision had firm control of the property since the year 2000.

Ong went to Activision, asking to give Spider-Man a “better home” for video games. Activision responded “Good luck finding your unicorn.”

Of course Marvel would find it’s unicorn in Insomniac Games, developers of Ratchet & Clank, Resistance: Fall of Man, and Sunset Overdrive.

Marvel’s Spider-Man was the first time that Marvel proper realized that games as a medium could drive the brand…could drive “brand affinity,” as we call it.

—Jay Ong

pg. 506

You can read about this story and plenty more in the book The Ultimate History of Video Games: Volume 2, written by Steven L. Kent.

Were you aware of this story? Do you think Microsoft made a major mistake, or do you think that focusing on their own IPs was the smarter choice? We’d love to hear your opinion in the comment section below and on our official Discord server!

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Source: The Ultimate History of Video Games: Volume 2

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