Captain America, Hulk and Thor Coming Soon to Sega Universe

Comics lovers who couldn’t believe Captain America died last month will soon be able to resurrect him on their game consoles.

Sega and Marvel Entertainment have struck a deal wherein “Cap” and fellow Marvel Hall of Fame superheroes Incredible Hulk and Thor will star in new video games. The companies said the exclusive, multiyear, global licensing agreement calls for Sega to create games for console, handheld and PC platforms.

The games will be based on both the classic Marvel comic book stories and on planned movies that will feature the superheroes. Marvel and Sega are already involved in creating video games based on Marvel’s Iron Man, and an Iron Man film starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges and Terrence Howard is scheduled for release next spring.

Sega’s Super Passion

Video games are an “ideal medium to showcase the appeal and excitement” of comic book superstars, said Marvel Studios Chairman David Maisel in announcing the deal with Sega. Sega is “one of the industry’s most innovative game developers,” he added.

Sega, according to Maisel, has demonstrated its “passion” for Marvel Universe characters in its work so far on the Iron Man game.

A Marvel Studios movie about the Incredible Hulk is expected to reach theaters in June 2008, about a month after the Iron Man film. Marvel and Sega said the first Sega video game to be released under the new pact will be based on The Incredible Hulk film.

The movie and games, said the companies, will return viewers to the “roots” of protagonist Bruce Banner. The film, reportedly starring Edward Norton, is being directed by “Transporter 2” and “Unleashed” director Louis Leterrier. “Games based on Captain America and Thor will follow, though the timing of those feature film projects, currently in development, has not yet been determined,” said Marvel and Sega.

American Appeal

The new games are part of the company’s practice of building games “from the ground up to appeal to Western audiences,” noted Sega President and COO Simon Jeffery in announcing the Marvel deal.

Video games give to those who love Marvel’s heroes the ability to “play out their fantasies by actually becoming these Super Heroes,” he continued.

A fierce rival of Nintendo in the early years of game console development and sales, Sega left the hardware business in 2001. Since then, Sega has focused on developing games for PCs and various manufacturers’ consoles, including Sony’s PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 3; Microsoft’s Xbox and Xbox 360; and Nintendo’s own Game Boy Advance, GameCube, DS and Wii

Rush Jobs

“The reputation of movie-based video games has never been stellar,” NPD gaming analyst David Riley told TechNewsWorld. “These titles rarely live up to expectations, often being rushed to make a release date around the movie’s release date. The production values and game play tend to be so rough that they end up doing nothing more than collecting dust on store’s shelves.”

However, Riley noted, Marvel-hero based games have been consistently good.

“As a whole, Marvel titles perform well,” added Riley. Prior Incredible Hulk, X-Men and Spider-Man games have a combined retail sales figure in the U.S. of more than US$735 million, he said, adding, “While not all of the titles within these properties are directly related to their movie counterparts, this should give you an idea of the incredible impact they have on the video game industry and culture as a whole.”

Wedbush Morgan research analyst Edward Woo also thinks the Marvel/Sega pairing will do well.

“I think it’s a good deal,” he told TechNewsWorld. “For Marvel, they get incremental money and for Sega, they potentially they sell more video games.”

Producing games based on known entities, including comic book heroes is often a safe bet, he stated. “People like to produce video games on brands you know,” said Woo. “It helps when they make it on something recognizable. Chances are good that people have heard of these characters.”

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