Letting the chefs run the kitchen
New media that’s based on existing characters from another medium almost always runs into something of a stumbling block. Even though it’s a new project, it’s often beholden to the canon of the original. Those stories caught on for a reason and it’s understandable that the property holder doesn’t want someone coming in and mucking that all up.
In an interview with IGN at DICE, Marvel says that it has a looser mindset with its video games that are currently in production. According to Marvel Games creative director Bill Rosemann “We want to give [developers] freedom to tell their story and we want to make it an original story.” He cited Insomniac’s Spider-Man having a white chest piece as a deliberate move to message that these developers don’t have to paint by the numbers.
Elaborating with a pretty good analog, Rosemann said “We want to give our partners…freedom to look at all of Marvel history and to pick from what interests them. It’s a bit like we’re saying, ‘Hey you’re the chef, you’re going to make this meal. Here’s all of the ingredients. You pick the ingredients that you like and make a new meal.”
Marvel hasn’t let go of the reins entirely, though. Rosemann explained that while Marvel wants developers to execute their own vision, everyone also needs to be aware that an audience is going to best relate to what’s popular now. For instance, Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxygame is going feel like the movie because that’s what has been tremendously successful in recent years.
That being said, Rosemann also insists that Marvel isn’t aiming for day-and-date video game launches to coincide with film releases. “We’re also not going to try to do the very tricky balancing act of trying to make a game that adapts a movie and get it out in the same window as the movie,” he said.
It’s a commendable approach, one that feels like it could be both commercially viable for Marvel and creatively fulfilling for the developers. It might be risky to give someone else control of your property, but it probably also has the most upside. You just need to have faith in the ability of your partners, and it seems like Marvel certainly does.