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Microsoft Inks Marvelous Online Comic Game Deal

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[ Technology]

An agreement with Marvel Enterprises will bring Spidey and the gang to the Xbox 360 and MMO gaming.

Marvel has entered its first massively multiplayer online (MMO) game agreement, signing on with Microsoft for an undisclosed amount. The agreement gives Microsoft access to notable comic and movie stars like Spider-man, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men.

Microsoft sees online gaming as a valuable component of its entertainment presence. The company launched Xbox Live recently, and the Xbox 360 will have a number of titles for it focused toward online gaming.

This is Marvel’s first MMO agreement, with Microsoft’s first title due in 2008. A Marvel representative said the agreement is Marvel’s “one and only” MMO deal, according to Reuters.

“Online gaming is reaching a point of acceptance. We will use as many of the Marvel characters as we can,” said Peter Moore, corporate vice president of worldwide marketing and publishing for Microsoft’s Xbox.

Microsoft will have a lot to choose from, then. Marvel says it owns about 5,000 proprietary characters. But a successful implementation of MMO using Marvel characters can be a big boost to Microsoft’s gaming division.

The Xbox and its forthcoming replacement the Xbox 360 have reportedly been money-losers on a hardware basis, with costs exceeding what the company can sell them for on the market. Sony probably will experience the same issue when it releases the PS3 next year; Microsoft may drop the Xbox 360 price at that time.

For Microsoft, Xbox Live and its fee-based subscriptions allow it to turn those hardware losses into loss leaders instead. The game console companies make money on licensing from video game makers like Electronic Arts. But owning Xbox Live means all the money it generates is house money for Microsoft, less the licensing it would pay Marvel.

And like Star Wars online games, Marvel’s games will have successful movies to help bolster their marketing. The Spider-man and X-Men movies have become franchises for Marvel, each having two movies out and a third in development.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

Microsoft Inks Marvelous Online Comic Game Deal
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