For the past several years, games based on Marvel Comics have come from one studio--Activision. In a deal signed in early 2003, the publisher locked down the game rights to four classic comic franchises--X-Men, Spider-Man, Fantastic 4, and Iron Man--through 2009.
However, back in July, Activision reps confirmed to GameSpot that it was no longer making a game based on Iron Man. Though they declined to give any details, spokespersons for Marvel did say that a new publisher had scooped up game rights to the superhero and that there would be an announcement in the fall.
Today, the unnamed company was unmasked when Sega announced it "has been granted the exclusive interactive rights to develop and distribute games based on both Marvel's Iron Man feature films and the classic comic book iterations of the character." No specific consoles were mentioned in today's announcement, though Sega did say the games would be on "next-gen gaming platforms."
The first Iron Man film is due out on May 2, 2008. It will be directed by Jon Favreau and will star Robert Downey Jr. (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow). It is also the first film self-financed by Marvel, which has enjoyed a surge of revenue from successful films like X3: The Last Stand and popular games such as the X-Men Legends series.
"Sega is excited to be publishing the next-gen interactive entertainment based on Iron Man, the first Marvel Studios project being brought to the wide screen," said Simon Jeffery, Sega of America's president and COO.
Apparently, the Iron Man deal will be only the beginning of the Sega-Marvel relationship. Sega described the agreement as "a first step in a strategic partnership between Marvel and Sega to bring at least one additional Marvel Superhero property to next-gen platforms."
The deal also comes just weeks after Marvel announced it is developing a massively multiplayer online-role playing game exclusively for the Xbox 360. The game will be published by Microsoft and developed by Cryptic Studios, whose own superhero-based MMORPG, City of Heroes, has proven popular on PCs.