Massively multiplayer Marvel

Company's famed superheroes crash into online games via Gazillion deal

Marvel Entertainment and Gazillion Entertainment have struck a licensing deal to develop massively multiplayer online games based on Marvel characters and brands.

The first game in development is a casual MMO title for younger audiences based on Marvel's "Super Hero Squad" property. Gazillion also will develop "Marvel Universe," an MMO game for PCs and consoles.

Financial details of the licensing deal were not disclosed.

"Despite the tough economy, the video game industry continues to grow, and MMO games for mass audiences represent the next big opportunity for the upcoming decade," Gazillion president and CEO Rob Hutter said. "This is particularly the case for established global entertainment brands like Marvel, which possess hundreds of millions of touch points with fans worldwide. The next step is exceptionally high-quality MMO entertainment, and that's our mission at Gazillion."

Privately held Gazillion is backed by Hearst Interactive Media and venture-capital firms Oak Investment Partners, Revolution Ventures and UV Partners. Headquartered in San Mateo, Calif., the company runs four production studios.

"Marvel's library features a large and world-renowned stable of characters, making it tailor-made for massively multiplayer entertainment that will appeal to a wide audience eager for more opportunities to interact with these iconic character franchises," said Simon Philips, Marvel's president of worldwide consumer products. (partialdiff)