After over 15 years of working together, Activision and Marvel have parted ways.
You may have noticed that certain Marvel games, like the recent Deadpool game and previously released Spider-Man titles, have inexplicitly been yanked from digital gaming services such as PSN, Xbox Live, and Steam. The cause behind all these digital disappearances is the ending of the publishing contract between gaming developer Activision and Marvel itself.
The contract between Marvel and Activison, which gave Activision exclusive rights to publish games based off of Marvel characters, was first established way back in 1998 (though the two companies have actually been collaborating as far back as 1986). Since that time, Activision has published over 30 games set within the Marvel universe. However, the time limit on that particular contract has now expired and it would seem the two companies have not left on friendly terms if the recent pulling of Activison’s Marvel titles is any indication.
Considering the poor reception many of Activision’s more recent Marvel titles, which include the recent Deadpool game as well as X-Men: Destiny and Spider-Man: Edge of Time, have received, it’s not too surprising Marvel would want to metaphorically sweep them under the rug (by making them unavailable through digital means). Now that Marvel is once again a free agent, they could decide to hook up with another game publisher or maybe even go ahead and start publishing their own games from in-house.
Whatever Marvel decides, the bad news is that we likely won’t be seeing another game starring Marvel’s iconic characters for a little while. This is an especially hard blow to take since Capcom’s popular crossover franchise Marvel vs. Capcom, which included Marvel vs. Capcom 2 and the more recent Marvel vs. Capcom 3, was also recently pulled from digital distribution services.