Marvel superheroes make pact with Sega

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Video game publisher Sega has expanded its relationship with Marvel Entertainment, adding superheroes Captain America, the Incredible Hulk and Thor to its stable with exclusive multiyear deals.

Sega recently inked a deal to bring Marvel's "Iron Man" to console, handheld and PC game platforms in conjunction with the May 2008 theatrical release from Paramount Pictures, which stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges and Terrence Howard. The pacts give Sega the opportunity to create games tied to the feature films and the classic comic books.

Sega has a developer at work on the "Hulk" game, which is expected to ship in conjunction with the June 2008 release of the Universal Pictures film starring Edward Norton as David Banner.

Vivendi Universal Games came out with a "Hulk" game in 2003 based on the Ang Lee film.

Simon Jeffery, president and COO of Sega of America, said all four games will be developed in North America. The "Iron Man" game, which is being developed internally at Sega, is using next-generation technology.

Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel said games are an ideal medium to showcase the appeal and excitement of the superhero franchises.

"These franchises represent three of Marvel's most popular characters and lend themselves to captivating game play," he said. "We have already seen Sega's passion for the Marvel universe through the early development of the 'Iron Man' game, and we look forward to working closely with them over the next few years to maximize the potential of these franchises in the interactive entertainment space."

Jeffery added: "It's a collaborative process. We work closely with Marvel Studios, with ('Iron Man' director) Jon Favreau and with the design and FX teams. It is vital that the game feels like the movie; it is being designed primarily on the next-gen gaming systems."

Part of that collaborative process will include incorporating film cast members into the game with likenesses and voice work. Marvel has worked with Activision to get key members from the 'Spider-Man' and 'X-Men' casts involved with voice acting for the games.

During the past two years, Sega, which had shied away from Hollywood licenses, has bulked up its relationship with movie studios. It is developing games based on New Line's "His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass," which will ship in November with the film. Sega is also reinventing the "Alien" franchise through a deal with Fox that will bring that universe to next-generation consoles in a few years. The company released a game based on Paramount's "Charlotte's Web" last year.
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