The head of Marvel Games has revealed that Sony wasn’t the first company the Mouse Empire (=Disney) company contacted with the comic book IPs…
An excerpt from Steven L. Kent’s book The Ultimate History of Video Games Vol. 2, published last year, has surfaced on the ResetEra forum. Jay Ong, the head and executive VP of Marvel Games, explained that they broke with Activision Blizzard to find a better partner because the company didn’t like the quality of Activision’s Spider-Man games, so they mutually terminated the agreement.
After the break-up, Activision asked Ong what he would do with the IP after he got it back, to which he replied that he would find a better home for it. The publisher responded by saying, “good luck finding the unicorn”. Xbox and PlayStation were then approached for an exclusive deal, as Marvel Games did not have a significant console deal. According to Ong, Redmond was then focused on their IP, so they weren’t interested in comic book intellectual property… but Sony was!
Ong sat down in a conference room in Burbank in August 2014 with PlayStation’s third-party heads, Adam Boyes, featured in a big-hitting ad at E3 2013, and John Drake. He had a dream that he thought was achievable: Batman: Arkham was beatable. He wanted at least one game, and perhaps more, that would increase the adoption of the PlayStation platform. Sony agreed: it tasked Insomniac Games, then independent but one of its most important partners, to develop Marvel’s Spider-Man, which has sold more than 20 million copies since its release in autumn 2018. Even its cross-gen (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4) spin-off, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, sold 6.5 million copies. Spider-Man has become one of Sony’s most successful IPs in the US in terms of dollar sales.
Sony and Marvel didn’t stop there: Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 for PlayStation 5, featuring Tony Todd as Venom, will come from Insomniac Games in 2023. After that, the studio will work on Marvel’s Wolverine. So there’s a good relationship between the two companies, and both stand to benefit from the deal… and it could have worked out for Phil Spencer and his team.