Marvel announced some improvements to its AR app at SWSXi yesterday, including finally adding the audio components it talked about last year. It also has improved the panel flow and the AR extras will now be available in all digital comics. They also announced an Ultimate Spider-Man Infinite comic, to be aimed at younger readers. Ultimate Infinite Spider-Man — that sounds pretty indestructible.
The announcements were made at a panel that included Axel Alonso and Marvel’s vp of digital products Kristen Vincent, seen above in an Instagram by Michelle Singh. Albert Ching has more details at CBR:
Marvel first revealed plans to bring audio to digital comics at last year’s SXSW, under the name “Project Gamma.” That name has been dropped, and previous technological partners Momentum Worldwide and CORD are no longer involved. For the current version of the project, Marvel has teamed with Emmy-nominated composer David Ari Leon’sSoundMind Music and Firelight Technologies. Leon has worked on multiple Marvel-related projects, spanning from the 1990s “Spider-Man” cartoon to “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.” Firelight Technologies are the creators of audio content creation tools FMOD, used in multiple high-profile video games including the “BioShock” series.
In case you haven’t tried it, Marvel’s AR (augmented reality) technology allows supplemental pop-up elements, and now a soundtrack that starts when you load a comic in its Unlimited app, along with sound effects. So far only it’s only available on Captain America: The Winter Soldier comic. The new Infinite Ultimate Spider-Man is an attempt to reach kids with a digital native storytelling mode, Alonso and Vincent said.
Now what is most interesting to me about this story is how one website that has been predicting that Marvel would be moving all its digital comics to its own app and cutting out Comixology reported something very different:
This is a story that Bleeding Cool first reported on in November, the move to integrate Marvel’s digital services into one central App…
And its news that CNET has just announced, ahead of of today’s announcements at SXSW.
What was that “story first reported in November”?
That’s it. That’s the missing brick in this wall. Marvel Unlimited will feature ‘in app’ digital comics purchasing in addition to their ‘all you can eat’ Netflix model for older back issues. Porting over the Infinite comics, Project Gamma and Marvel AR will also happen. One Marvel digital comics app for an all immersive ‘unlimited’ Marvel experience. The Marvel Unlimited ‘Plus’ users will see this debut in 2014. And bringing the date at which back issues are available in the subscription price significantly forward. How much of a premium would you pay for day-and-date all-you-can-eat?
They’re not cutting out ComiXology per se. You’ll still be able to buy digital comics through them. But… would you?
Which is NOT WHAT WAS ANNOUNCED YESTERDAY AT ALL. Marvel basically announced some fancy tweaks to their Unlimited comics. In fact if you read the BC story first linked to, that’s what the story actually says, not some huge move for Marvel digital. I notice that some other websites picked up the inaccurate “Marvel moves its comics to Unlimited” headline. And as I suggested the other day, perhaps that will someday be the headline but it isn’t yet. I can predict one thing with 100% certainty however. eve if it takes a hundred years, if Marvel ever does moves its digital comics to Unlimited, there will be a story about it that begins “As first reported at Bleeding Cool…”
It seems a mole—of moles—are passing along the “Digital Heroes World” doomsday scenario to several websites, hence all the crazy talk people have been floating for hits and attention. Sure maybe, Marvel has eventual plans to “cut out the middleman” of Comixology, but if you think that’s what happened yesterday, take a closer look at the photo at the top of this post.
UPDATE: It has pointed out to me that Marvel is not denying that someday the will pull the doomsday trigger, as in this quote to CBR by John Cerilli Marvel’s John Cerilli, vp of digital content and programming:
“Responding to speculation that Marvel may someday use Marvel Unlimited to cut out the middleman and sell same-day, single-issue digital comics through the service, Cerilli said, “Will books be in there day-and-date someday? Who knows. It all depends on how the market goes. A couple of years ago, we never thought we would have digital comics of any form available day-and-date.””
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.