Sega plays Marvel video game

Marvel 'involved with the creative process'

SAN DIEGO -- Marvel Entertainment's efforts to take greater control of its iconic characters is getting tested not just with today's opening of the "Iron Man" movie but also with the simultaneous release of a video game based on the license.

Part of Marvel's new strategy involved handing development of the "Iron Man" game to Sega of America rather than Activision, which had published games based on the "Spider-Man" and "X-Men" movies.

"We are in the Iron Man business," Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel said, "so whether it be a major motion picture or a video game, we have somewhat of an obligation to our fans and the consumer to stay involved with the creative process."

Rob Lightner, vp business development at Sega, said Marvel was far more involved than most licensors in the creation of "Iron Man" and the upcoming "Incredible Hulk" game, set for release with that movie next month.

"Marvel understands how extremely important these titles are, so they opened the kimono and really gave us access to the film talent and paid attention to how the games were developing," Lightner said.

Jeremy Gordon, studio director of Sega subsidiary Secret Level, which developed "Iron Man," said that meant not only being able to sit down regularly with film director Jon Favreau but also getting input on the game script from star Robert Downey Jr.

"When Industrial Light + Magic was doing tests for flight, we were able to see that super-early, and we had the models from ILM right away as well," Gordon said. "The other thing that was really cool with Marvel is we have this huge backstory with 'Iron Man' to mine, so we were able to work in characters in the game that aren't in the movie."

IDC game analyst Billy Pidgeon said, "This is probably the best game based on a Marvel franchise that I've seen, so it should have a life well beyond the initial uplift that a licensed game gets."