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Marvel's games team looks to higher quality, 'interconnected' games, but fewer titles

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

The success of Marvel's film franchises — and its expansion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to network television and Netflix — appears to be affecting how the entertainment juggernaut thinks about its approach to video games. That means more selective partnerships, fewer licensed titles and more interconnected narrative between Marvel's games, executives say.

Marvel Entertainment's vice president of production for games, TQ Jefferson, told Polygon at the unveiling of Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes that the company is taking a more selective approach to making games based on its properties.

"Marvel's overall success in film and TV and other lines of business, means that Marvel is now attracting better partners in the gaming space," Jefferson said. "We're talking to people now who have strong vision and great teams that can actually execute, and we're not as concerned with hitting a date [that's tied to a movie] and wanting to hold out for quality and have things go out when we're ready.

"We are looking at smarter, more interconnected experiences, more interconnected narrative. If you've been to our [Comic-Con] panels, you've heard me talk about the Marvel Gaming Universe, how the game's exist in their own continuity, how they share elements from other games and they're working along the same story lines — or they're at least aware of each other. We are evolving how we're approaching our games and how we're building out our [games] universe."

"we're being much more selective and measured in how we approach partnerships"

Jefferson reiterated Marvel Entertainment's core pillars when it comes to making games. They must have "fun and engaging gameplay, true to character experiences and a compelling story," he said.

"That's what we look for when we're evaluating creative pitches that come from any number of partners," Jefferson said. "What we're also doing now is we're being much more selective and measured in how we approach partnerships. I think in the heyday of the movie licensed game, it was just, 'Let's churn out something, let's do the the smash and grab, get the money and get out' and most of those games sucked, to be perfectly blunt."

The video game consumer, Jefferson said, is more savvy and selective than it's ever been. Just as fans are becoming more measured in their approach to buying games, so must Marvel be measured in lending its superheroes to game makers.

"We have to respond by introducing higher quality product," he said. "We're pushing more quality now than we ever have in the past and if that means fewer games, that means fewer games. As long as we're hitting a high quality bar and holding ourselves to a higher standard."

This week, Activision released The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which is tied to the release of the film of the same name, and Disney Interactive announced that Marvel's range of superheroes and villains will join the next edition of Disney Infinity.

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