- Marvel hasn’t successfully created a shared universe in the video game landscape like they have in cinema, but it would be a fun way to connect with the source material.
- Players enjoy playing ensemble games and experiencing adventures from the Marvel Universe, so it would be a shame to limit its potential in video games.
- Insomniac has quietly created its own shared universe. Its Spider-Man games, and upcoming Wolverine title present a path to the future of Marvel gaming that they shouldn’t waste.
Marvel Entertainment has crafted a compelling and complex shared universe in the comic book space. Naturally, this was transferred to the big screen with the Marvel Cinematic Universe taking the box office by storm. However, Marvel hasn’t quite cracked the video game landscape in the same way. There is yet to be a truly well-formed and consistent shared universe where all past and future gaming releases are set in. There’s no telling whether the games would increase in their quality or sales via this move, but it would certainly be a fun way to connect to the source material.
Players love ensemble games and enjoy being able to play through the adventures that they might have seen on the screen or page. The Marvel Universe is such a big sandbox that it seems a shame to place limitations on its wide-scale potential when jumping to video games. However, if Marvel did want to move forward with a shared universe in the medium, then Insomniac might already provide the structure to build from. While fans continue to study every preview for Spider-Man 2, it’s time to look at the bigger picture.
There Were Plans In Place At Marvel To Create A Video Game Shared Universe
The Marvel Gamerverse branding began to pop up a few years ago. There was a period of time when multiple games were being released that seemed to have loose connections to one another. Insomniac’s Spider-Man featured the Avengers tower, while Square Enix’s Avengers brought together a diverse roster of heroes with a promise of expanding outward. The company’s take on the Guardians of the Galaxy could have easily been tied in, and there were certainly narrative connections with appearances from entities like the Kree Sentinels.
It seemed as if there were plans in place to move forward with a clearer roadmap for a shared universe to take form, especially with other ensemble games like Midnight Suns on the horizon. But the mixed response to the release of Avengers likely soured those plans. There are reports that Marvel no longer has any ambition to create a shared universe and a focus on random titles like Marvel Snap supports the notion that this is the case. However, upcoming solo adventures featuring Captain America and Black Panther do open the door to revisit this concept in the future. But, perhaps Marvel already has irons in the fire.
Insomniac Have Been Quietly Creating Their Own Shared Universe
Insomniac never set out to create a shared universe. The primary focus of Spider-Man PS4 and the PS5 upgrade was to craft a singular story that was emotionally engaging and incredibly fun to play. They absolutely succeeded, and although they packed in plenty of Easter eggs to other heroes and places along the way, the focus was very much on Spider-Man and his journey. The world was expanded a bit again with the arrival of the Miles Morales spinoff title, which brought with it a new array of allies and antagonists. And of course, Spider-Man 2 is set to move the bar further, bringing in Venom who is equally capable of carrying a spinoff, perhaps with a debuting Eddie Brock in the lead. The trio of video games could be compared to Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham series, which focused primarily on the titular Batman but hinted towards something more beyond the borders of Gotham City.
Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League makes good on Arkham’s promise that the Justice League and other classic DC Comics characters are somewhere out there in the universe. There wasn’t a need to force together multiple video game titles like Injustice and Gotham Knights, but instead this wider shared universe organically grew. Insomniac may well be heading in this same direction. Insomniac is already working on The Wolverine, a title that promises to be just as integral for Logan as Spider-Man was for Peter Parker. It seems that this is set in the same universe as Insomniac’s previous outings, and it really should be. And with the debut of Wolverine a whole new world of X-Men and mutants may emerge, organically being woven into the narrative.
Marvel Must Readjust & Abandon Any Remaining Plans
Marvel is in a strange transitional period. The MCU is readjusting, and the comics are always attempting to take new steps to remain relevant. The upcoming video game slate is more diverse than ever, and there may be discussions being had whether a shared universe could be a good idea moving forward. But if Marvel has truly abandoned those plans, they are right to do so. Because Insomniac provides exactly what they need. The video game company should be allowed to continue producing character-focused, small-scale projects, that slowly weave a larger interconnected narrative. Marvel should even approve more projects with the company, perhaps allowing for solo games for street-level vigilantes such as Daredevil, who would mesh so well with Spider-Man’s tone.
Each new title would push the range of gameplay features available, ensuring that players truly feel like they are taking on the role of a superhero. But they could also build out this unique expanded universe, which has its own flavor, unlike any other version of the Marvel Universe. While Insomniac slowly crafts this shared universe, thus ticking one of Marvel’s storytelling synergy boxes, the comic book company can also focus on solo games that are not beholden to a single continuity. That means that there’s also creative freedom for other studios to explore any narrative they wish, without having to check back in with every other game. It’s a win-win situation, that streamlines the process of creating a shared universe and brings all the creative benefits with it, while also encouraging Marvel to take risks on the other characters, titles, and studios they work with and on. Insomniac has provided a path to the future of Marvel gaming with its Spider-Man games and upcoming Wolverine title, and its potential shouldn’t be wasted.
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