Monday, August 31, 2009

The Disney-Marvel deal: What happens to the games?

Disney says they will re-evaluate Marvel's bevy of video game deals with publishers as they move closer to expiration, representatives from the company said in a conference call. The call was part of Disney's announced acquistion of the giant comic book publisher for $4 billion. The deal would give Disney rights to all of Marvel's characters, including Spider-Man, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk. Bob Iger, Disney's president and CEO, sized up Marvel's game deals as "smart licensing agreements with some of the best video game manufacturers in the business. Among the publishers currently working with Marvel: Activision (Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Spider-Man), Sega (Iron-Man, Incredible Hulk), THQ (Marvel Super Hero Squad and Gazillion Entertainment (Marvel Universe). Disney says they won't rule out a mixed games portfolio consisting of Marvel titles licensed to other publishers and in-house creations. Known mostly for creating titles based on the Disney stable of characters, the company's Disney Interactive studio has begun branching out to a broader audience with the release of off-road racer Pure and the Burnout-inspired driving game Split-Second, arriving next year. As Marvel's current deals near expiration, Iger says the Marvel acquisition gives Disney "the luxury of at that time considering what's best for the company from a financial perspective, from a quality perspective and an exposure perspective." Activision's arrangement with Marvel ends in 2017. Both the Sega and THQ partnerships have been described as multi-year. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Marvel's 2009 deal with Gazillion on a series massively multiplayer online games is for 10 years.

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