Where Have All the Marvel Games Gone?

As Marvel continues to break box office records, their video game presence is dwindling, especially on consoles and PC. So where are all these games going?

Where Have All the Marvel Games Gone?
There is no doubt that we can expect some entertaining Marvel video games this year, along with the promise of the new PS4 exclusive Spider-Man game in 2018. Yet these titles coming to console and PC don't really represent the Marvel video game presence of today, which is a shame because they look promising. Instead, Marvel seems more interested in making their home on the mobile market rather than consoles, PC, and handhelds (3DS, Vita), and that's a problem. Despite your feelings on mobile games, hearing that a new Marvel video game is coming out, and then learning it'll be release on your phone, is a disappointment.

It didn't always use to be this way, however. Over the past 10 years, a shift in platform focus can be seen, correlating with the increased success Marvel has had at the box office and their acquisition by Disney. The following chart shows the distribution of games from 2006 to 2015.

Where Have All the Marvel Games Gone? - The distribution of games across platforms across 10 years.
As you can see, there has been an increase in releases per year, but as the years go on, their distribution shifts quite dramatically. From 2006 to 2008, there were no mobile-only releases. 2008 is the year that Iron Man released, kicking off Marvel's cinematic universe. It wouldn't be until 2011 when Thor and Captain America would get their own movies, as well, expanding the universe beyond just Tony Stark.

2011 is also where we see a huge spike in number of games released. 2010 saw six games release, double that of 2008. 2011 nearly doubled again to 10 games. At 2012, that's when the shift happens. From that point on, Marvel games would release primarily on the mobile platform, only seeing an even distribution in 2013. 2014 saw a massive swing in favor of mobile representation, with seven releases compared to only two on consoles/PC. Why there was only one game, total, released in 2015, I haven't a clue.

Now in 2016, we had three Marvel games, two of which were mobile-only. Now 2017 is interesting in that there are no mobile-only releases across the four total new games. Only the Guardians of the Galaxy game came out on both console and mobile platforms. Could this be the start of the pendulum swinging back toward consoles? I sure hope so.

Why has this happened? Well, simply put, mobile games have a great return. They're cheap and quick to produce, so they can easily be released alongside a new movie to promote it. If you've ever wondered what happened to bad movie tie-in games, that's probably why. Mobile games are often free, but come with microtransactions that help make up the difference. Despite being good for business, mobile games are terrible for the consumer. They're cheap and have very little gameplay value.

With 2017 seeing a shift back toward consoles, hopefully that will be the start of a new trend. However, it still won't address the other problem which is a lack of diversity of character representation. Even before the start of the MCU, the vast majority of Marvel games were about Spider-Man or the X-Men. Every so often you'd get an ensemble game, and that was the only time you might see more obscure characters show up. 

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