Xbox Reportedly Turned Down Exclusive Marvel Game Development Deal

Spider-Man was almost an Xbox exclusive, as Marvel Games was looking to strike a new licensing deal in the 2010s according to executive vice president and head of Marvel Games Jay Ong.

In an excerpt from Steven L. Kent’s 2021 book The Ultimate History of Video Games Vol 2 (via ResetEra and VGC), Ong detailed how games tied to Activision’s Amazing Spider-Man movie left Marvel Games unhappy with their overall quality, and the two companies mutually agreed to end the Marvel licensing deal in 2014.

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After Activision asked what Marvel would do when the video game IP rights were returned, it replied that it would find them a “better home”, to which Activision replied, “good luck finding your unicorn ” according to Ong.

Marvel Games then approached Microsoft to see if a deal on forming an exclusive partnership could be reached, but Microsoft passed on the offer as it was more concerned with focusing on its own IPs. Sony was more interested in acquiring the rights to the Spider-Man IP video game, and its pitch to develop a AAA experience with one of its “significant partners” was accepted by Marvel Games.

Insomniac Games proved to be that crucial partner, and a few years later Marvel’s Spider-Man was receiving rave reviews and smash hits. The game has currently sold over 20 million copies since 2018, while its spin-off Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales has sold an additional 6.5 million units since its launch in late 2020.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 was announced during the PlayStation Showcase presentation in September 2021, and Insomniac is also working on a Wolverine game that would be darker and more mature.

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