Here’s a story we didn’t really cover as we should have: Marvel teaming with Cryptic Studios to create their long-rumored MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online game). The story is amusing because Marvel was formerly SUING Cryptic for copyright infringement with their hugely popular superhero MMO, CITY OF HEROES. Now it’s all lovey dubbins. However, this link at GigaOM suggests Marvel may have its work cut out for them, as licensed MMO’s have historically been hard to launch.
At first glance, the project’s success seems like a sure bet. With a huge, generation-spanning readership, and several blockbuster movie spinoffs, including Spider-Man and X-Men, how could an online game version fail?
Trouble is, it can. In fact, I’d be very skeptical, because the track record for MMOs based on non-game IP is pretty dicey. Star Wars Galaxies4 performed moderately well at first, with a few hundred thousand subscribers at peak– but before its 2003 launch, experts predicted5 it could be the first US-based MMO to break the one million subscriber mark. (And does anyone even remember Matrix Online6, let alone play it?) The fundamental stumbling block seems to be a mismatch of medium and desire.
More in link. We don’t follow the gaming community well enough to know how accurate this analysis is, but that’s what the comments are for.