If you haven't noticed, 2016 is all about pitting superheroes against one another. This coming spring, we'll have Captain America facing off with Iron Man in Captain America: Civil War, and DC's two biggest heroes at odds in Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice. But forget about the intra-squad battles for a moment. The real superhero battle of 2016 is between DC and Marvel, and it's about to be fiercer than ever before.
For the first time since the massive expansion of superhero cinema, DC and Marvel will both be putting all their cards on the table. DC is looking to catch up, and catch up quickly, to the scope of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After enjoying some successes and failures with independent projects and series, the comic studio is now in the hands of Zack Snyder as he tries to create the kind of cohesive “universe” that Marvel has thrived with. Marvel, meanwhile, is approaching a new, fresh chapter in its unstoppable Avengers saga, with more characters and intrigue than we've yet seen. And if that wasn't enough, both companies have additional projects headed our way in 2016: DC is producing Suicide Squad, and Marvel will be attached to X-Men: Apocalypse (though that's not a Marvel Studios production).
We can't say yet who will win the cinematic superhero battle of 2016. It's pretty safe to say Marvel's winning in general, but DC is surging. If Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Suicide Squad are the standout hero films for the year, Marvel will take a serious hit. But in the meantime, let's take a look at that battle between the two comic giants being waged in a different arena: who's winning with gamers?
To list every console game related to DC and Marvel would take several pages, as these games date back to the very beginning of in-home consoles. In a more modern sense, there are really only a few noteworthy examples from either company. It's almost universally agreed upon that the best of the bunch reside in the Arkham series, the sensational open-world Batman games developed by Rocksteady Studios. When the last game in the series, Arkham Knight came out in 2015, a review at IGN called it “an outstanding game on almost every level” and gave it a 9.2/10 rating. Compare that sort of praise to other games, from DC or Marvel, and you won't find anything similar.
On the Marvel side of the aisle, there's been a rather stunning lack of focus on the Avengers in gaming. LEGO Marvel Superheroes is really the only noteworthy example (and there are DC counterparts), but there's been no all-encompassing MCU-based, open-world game like one might expect on modern consoles. Actually, just recently news broke of a canceled Marvel game that might have fit this description, and Collider posted some footage from the project. The footage is somewhat crude and at times only partially developed, but it can certainly make you long for a similar game to be made in the near future.
In terms of actual games, the only branch of Marvel that's really found sustainable success in modern consoles is that of Spider-Man. A number of open-world games based on this popular character have been met with generally positive reviews, though they're viewed by most as imitations of the Arkham franchise. Overall, the clear edge in console gaming goes to DC, if only for Arkham.
There's at least some kind of online gaming presence for most every major superhero. For instance, there's even a whole category of Spider-Man games at Mi9 Games , most of them fairly simple twists on common arcade experiences. You can find similar titles for Batman, Superman, etc., with the result that DC and Marvel are on fairly even ground for the most part.
Where there's some separation, however, is in the online gaming industry as it relates to casinos. Online casino sites cater to gigantic audiences of players, and one way they tend to generate interest is to present games filled with licensed superhero characters. Both DC and Marvel get involved with this branch of the gaming industry, but the selection of games at Gala Casino demonstrates Marvel's advantage. There are specific games for different MCU projects (such as a specific Iron Man 3 slot), along with numerous spin-offs for characters who aren't yet part of the MCU, such as the X-Men and Spider-Man. Where DC is concerned, online casino games tend to be less varied and specific, including only generic character-based experiences. Because of this, it's fair to give Marvel the edge in online gaming.
Mobile gaming is similar to the other two categories in that there are so many specific examples by now it's impossible to narrow the discussion to a few relevant games without excluding others. Suffice it to say there are dozens and dozens of superhero games out there. Some are based on films, others are independent, some focus on individual characters, and others are collaborative. But the most interesting aspect of this category is that it's become focused on two games that mirror each other quite closely.
Injustice: Gods Among Us (DC) and Marvel: Contest Of Champions (Marvel) are both standard fighters in which your goal is to collect characters, improve them, and build a team to fight through missions and against other players. Both have been enormously successful over the past year or two. In fact Contest Of Champions has become so popular that a comic series of the same name is being produced, echoing the themes of the mobile game. As for which is better, it may just depend for the most part on which selection of characters interests you more. But in general, this is a dead even category.
All things considered, it looks like a dead heat. DC and Marvel each excel in different areas, but both studios have enough relevance in gaming to satisfy their droves of fans. It will be interesting to see, though, if whichever company wins 2016 at the cinema goes on to gain an edge in gaming as well.
ozoneocean at 12:00AM, Dec. 5, 2015
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