If you’re into gaming like we are here in Pace Towers it probably hasn’t escaped your attention that Marvel has recently released ‘Contest of Champions’ for free across smartphone platforms. Essentially it’s a side scrolling beat ’em up a la ‘Street Fighter’ but has the added kicker of featuring all your favourite characters from the Marvel Universe!
Now, we know game adaptations of films are nothing new, and neither are Marvel branded games. And it’s undoubted that ‘Contest of Champions’ is sure to be a hit in the short term but what really interests us is the potential avenues that Marvel, and games companies in general could possibly now explore in terms of building exciting links between games and films.
It’s our opinion (and we’re not the type to keep our opinions to ourselves) that surely there now exists huge opportunities for games, especially mobile games with their relatively quick to produce content, to do things like filling in story arches between film releases.
Picture this for example, you’re watching the latest Avengers film and at some point Iron Man uses a smartphone to type in a code, let’s say to unlock a door. Now what if that same code when used at a specific point in your mobile game happens to unlock some new game content which you play through to the end and get a snippet of the next Captain America film? We’ve just blown your mind right?
But will this kind of thing ever become a reality?
Connecting the gaming and interactive entertainment industries
One great thing about the Marvel Universe is that you do not have to enjoy any particular franchise in order to enjoy another. It isn’t necessary to have seen ‘Thor’ in order to enjoy ‘Avengers Assemble’ for instance. Likewise you don’t have to have seen any of the films to enjoy the ‘Agents of Shield’ TV show. Marvel knows that this synergy within its Universe is what keeps fans coming back. And in our opinion this leaves them in a very interesting position with the ability to bridge the gap between gaming, films and TV seemingly within their grasp.
It’s clear the gaming industry has caught up with other entertainment areas in terms of quality, amount of content and accessibility since console gaming first burst on to the scene in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s. Long strides have been made from the Nintendo/Sega rivalry, through to the innovation of the various Playstation consoles all the way to where we are today with the heavy weight domestic entertainment systems. And while the newest generation of consoles, with all of the online connectivity and cross-system synergy continues to blaze a trail it is within the mobile platform that the potential to take the next step to truly connect the gaming and interactive entertainment industries exists.
The next step
If you’re asked to think about what you consider to be ‘the most talked about games’ in history what titles would you come up with? This answer will most probably depend on what decade you grew up in. However it looks increasingly like, in years to come that the majority of answers to this question will be mobile games titles. Games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga have defined discussion in playgrounds, offices, lunch tables and bars like no other games have before them. They are inexpensive, addictive and most importantly they are accessible almost anywhere, all you need is a smartphone. The success of these games comes from the social aspects of discussing top scores or how to best certain levels, something that the mobile platform excels in in relation to other forms of gaming.
And so it is somewhat ironic that Marvel, a corporation built upon comic book characters could be at the cusp of re-defining multiple industries. We are talking more than the oft used marketing ploy of ‘buy a cd and get access to online content’ kind of mentality here, but in something that brings a new and very real meaning to the phrase ‘synergy’.
Is it unrealistic to imagine a time when your interaction and your choices within the content of your mobile game could help to define the next Captain America film? We don’t think so anyway.
Games are a powerful tool for entertainment companies to take advantage of and simple ports of films should no longer be enough to satisfy both fans and the companies themselves. We may be some way off from a game defining the outcome of a film or influencing a character’s choices within it but companies like Marvel should take heed and let the mobile gamers into your universe and redefine interactive entertainment forever.
With mobile gaming you can become part of the Marvel universe, not its customer.