While DC Universe Online is coasting high on its success in Year Ten, it feels a shame that there’s no Marvel MMORPG to match it. Marvel is still a blazing hot IP as it moves into Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’s sad that MMO players who love that universe don’t have a massively persistent virtual world to enjoy their fandom.
At the very least, there’s a huge opportunity here that I’m surprised hasn’t been taken yet. Even with the slate of current and upcoming superhero MMOs providing a hearty buffet for gamers, a Marvel title by its very namesake easily could muscle into the field and stake a large claim.
But will it? And if so, what would that look like?
What we’ve had so far
I certainly do not want to overlook the fact that Marvel fans have had a few significant options over the past decade. Gazillion’s Marvel Heroes was a tremendously fun and popular online OARPG that let us play our favorite heroes (and villains!) over a wide variety of settings. To date, it’s been the closest thing we can claim to a Marvel MMO, simply by virtue of its popularity and design.
Gazillion also ran Marvel Super Hero Squad Online, that kiddie collectable MMO that ran from 2011 to 2017 and was pretty forgettable even when it was operating.
Finally, we can cast our net wider to snare last year’s Marvel’s Avengers, an online brawler that utilized many of the same characters from the popular films (although with different looks and voice acting, which put people off). Initially popular, this game fell off the map pretty quickly. In his initial impressions, MOP’s Eliot compared it to Marvel Heroes, saying, “If that sounds kind of familiar – putting heroes together in a team and then collecting loot in a smashy frenzy – it’s because we MMO players kind of had that at one point.”
So it’s not as if we haven’t had — or have — any Marvel games. It’s just that none of them have really provided the full-fledged experience that a Marvel MMO should bring to the table.
Daybreak’s mystery Marvel MMO
What’s really intriguing to me is that such an MMORPG might have been in development in recent years. A couple of years ago, we got word that Daybreak had been working on a Marvel MMO – or at least a multiplayer title – for the better part of 2018 before the project suddenly got put on hold (or scrapped).
This completely lines up with what we now know about Daybreak following last December’s corporate sale to EG7. When the treasure trove of Daybreak information was spread out on the table, one of the items that was included with the sale included a “license agreement with Marvel” that Daybreak had. And perhaps still has. We have no further information about that license, what Daybreak tried to do with it in the past, and what it hopes to do — if anything — with it in the future.
Sure, it would be a little more than strange to have the same studio that operates and develops a DC online roleplaying game to do the same with DC’s direct competitor, but it’s not out of the bounds of possibility. At the very least, Daybreak already knows how to make and run a superhero MMO, and it appreciates the financial windfall that such a title has brought to the studio. Why not another?
What could a Marvel MMO offer?
While I can’t say if we will ever be assured a future Marvel MMO, I am confident in asserting that it’s a good idea. Again, it’s a blazingly hot franchise that’s been tearing up comic books, movies, and TV for a long time now — and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
So what could a hypothetical Marvel MMORPG offer? First and foremost, it would want to capitalize on all of the supergroups and characters that Marvel has in its stable, from the X-Men to the Avengers, from that one Spider-Man to that other Spider-Man. Whether players would get to be these characters or simply quest alongside of them, it would be essential to establishing a large playerbase to have those recognizable names right out front as ambassadors of this title.
Second, I’d love to see the cross-platform structure of DCUO coupled with the costumes and roleplay of City of Heroes. Personally, I wouldn’t want an MMO dumbed down to fit console controllers and an action combat mindset, but I suppose there would need to be some compromise there to keep this as broadly appealing as possible. As long as I was able to make the character and costume that I wanted, I would be happy.
Third, it’d be pretty amazing if a Marvel MMO dipped into the IP’s wealth of stories to give players a chance to interact with them in a way that they never have before. Forget mopping up a thousand piddly sidequests and sieze the idea of adventuring through the Infinity Gauntlet storyline, the Dark Phoenix saga, or Civil War.
Finally, a Marvel MMO would have all of the cross-promotional opportunities that Marvel Heroes had and DC Universe Online currently does. Being able to plug into the TV series and movies would be a win-win scenario for all parties involved, including players who would look to an online game to continue the experience that they saw on the screen.
What would you want in a Marvel MMO if it ever got made? Sound off in the comments!