What a tangled web we weave. It seems that the potential dissolution of the Marvel and Sony’s relationship to bring Spider-Man, et al to the MCU has the internet bummed. In a world with global warming, unarmed brown people being shot or strangled by the police, mass shootings or a**holes deliberately burning down the Amazon Rainforest, of course your escapist entertainment wouldn’t be safe.
Well, for fans of the Sony PS4 exclusive, Marvel’s Spider-Man, there’s some potentially good news. After 20+ years of cohabitation, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Worldwide Studios (SIE WWS) and Insomniac Games, Inc. are finally getting hitched. They’ve just closed a deal that would make the famed developer Sony’s 14th in-house studio and formalize a relationship that has been in existence since Insomniac Games first debuted on the OG PlayStation way back when in 1996 with Disruptor. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
Absolutely thrilled to join the Sony family!!! What a day!!! https://t.co/pFkQJFe2nz
— Bryan Intihar (@bryanintihar) August 19, 2019
Insomniac Games was founded in 1994 under the moniker, Xtreme Software–yea, definitely a 90s company– which changed quickly to Insomniac Games. The U.S. developer is responsible for industry staples such as Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet and Clank and the recently critically acclaimed, commercial behemoth, Marvel’s Spider-Man.
This is certainly good news for Sony, as Marvel’s Spider-Man has just unseated Batman: Arkham City as the top-selling superhero game of all time by moving 13.2 million copies by the end of July 2019. That’s more than a little impressive when you consider that Batman: Arkham City launched in 2011 on multiple platforms and Marvel’s Spider-Man is a PS4 exclusive that was released Fall 2018.
It's time for #ComicCon2019!
Video Games are a huge part of the Comic landscape.
Below are the lifetime sales leaders for Superhero Video Games from The NPD Group.
Congratulations to Marvel's Spider-Man, the best-selling Superhero Video Game of all-time in the U.S.! pic.twitter.com/2MF3jObYpH
— Mat Piscatella (@MatPiscatella) July 18, 2019
Sony’s top-selling game is a Spider-Man game, their top movie is a Spider-Man film and the company was riding pretty high, like a…spider on so many thwips. Then, Tuesday, a corporate snappening happened, as both Sony and Marvel seemingly walked away from the negotiating table, leaving MCU Spider-Man not feeling so good.
Now, I’m fairly certain that if you asked the executives, they’d tell you that the Sony/Insomniac Games deal was about more than Spider-Man or Marvel games coming to the PS5 and I’m here to tell that that’s likely a very polite corporate lie, because while Insomniac Games is a great developer, their last unlicensed console exclusive was Sunset Overdrive for the Xbox One in 2014 and while it was well-received critically, sales were…lacking. Sony didn’t make Insomniac an in-house dev so that they could make well-received games that don’t sell. Here’s what SIE WWS Chairman, Shawn Layden told THR about the acquisition:
That [Sunset Overdrive] was a great experience for Insomniac, and they learned a lot through that, as well. As far as the IP itself, we really haven’t turned over the files on that one to see what that actually means, to be honest. We like what they’ve been doing in the Spider-Man franchise, and things like Ratchet & Clank are certainly vital series in the present and future. That’s what we’re concentrating on.
SO, what does that mean for the future of Spider-Man on Sony’s consoles? Well, in truth, we don’t know the terms of the Sony/Insomniac/Marvel deal and whether or not it would be affected by Sony’s acquisition of the studio. Disney/Marvel haven’t really been keen to turn their mega franchise into a gaming juggernaut and given the initial impressions of Square Enix’s Avengers game, they don’t really have their hands too tight on that wheel.
As a negotiating tactic, it would be particularly shrewd of Marvel to use the Spider-Man video game license as a stick to get Sony to bend to their will on the film front. We’ll see in time if Disney chooses to use that strategy or if getting the public to do their dirty work for them will bear fruit. #boycottsony has been trending since the news of the break-up hit and the last thing Sony wants is the acquisition of a game studio to go to waste and sales of their as-yet-unreleased console put in jeopardy.
At the time of this writing, Insomniac Games, Inc. could not be reached for comment.
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