Vidgame publisher has exclusive rights to characters

Marvel Enterprises and Electronic Arts are making plans to step on each other’s toes.

Deal between the No. 1 vidgame publisher and one of the top comicbook publishers will bring the two companies together to create a new line of fighting games featuring Marvel characters and a new series of comics based on superheroes created by EA.

Multiyear agreement gives EA an exclusive license to develop and distribute fighting games featuring Marvel characters such as Spider-Man, Hulk and the Punisher.

Marvel already licenses its characters for use in adventure games to other publishers, including Activision, VU Games and THQ.

EA titles will feature Marvel characters squaring off against a new lineup of superheroes that the vidgame publisher is developing in conjunction with Marvel. EA will own the rights to those characters, but deal makes Marvel the exclusive licensing agent for other consumer products and media based on them, including a new line of comicbooks that it will publish.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for EA to create new characters for fighting games that can be exploited through our global merchandise licensing machine to fuel sales in many other product categories,” said Marvel CEO and prexy Allen Lipson.

Alliance comes just a few weeks after Marvel hired a new exec, Ames Kirshen, to head up its vidgame development. Exec is charged with heading up the fast growing convergence between the two media, which target similar young male demos.

No release date has been announced for the first games that will result from the deal, but several are already being developed at EA’s studio in British Columbia.

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