BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL WITH DEADPOOL: Hitting The Jackpot: Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Gaming Spin-Off Appeal
There's no hiding the popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From their first foray into the world of big-budget blockbusters with 2008's trilogy-inspiring smash hit Iron Man, the MCU made winnings time and again when it comes to spinning out big win after big win.
Characters such as Spiderman have always been big news, operating in the vacuum between nerd culture and more mainstream audiences and being able to stay accessible to both. It hasn't always been the case with the likes of Thor, Captain America and Ant-Man, whose spin-off into other sectors of the entertainment industry has been notable in recent years.
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The popularity of some of these titles has been a bonus for marketers in a range of industries, from clothing to children's toys via merchandise and even Marvel-inspired music videos. While the relationship between big-name movies and further revenue streams is never knowingly understated, it is with Marvel's titles that the volume of products hits the jackpot.
Marvel's leap into the centre of the Hollywood universe has been especially useful for the games industry, with the traditional audience overlapping hugely in terms of demographics. Movies have long since been an inspiration for popular games series, be it the Harry Potter series, which spawned no fewer than fourteen PC and console titles including titles named after each film and Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup, or Atari's E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, released way back in 1982.
Somewhat surprisingly, the biggest-selling Marvel game of all-time is LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, selling nearly two million units worldwide across a full spectrum of consoles since its release in 2013. Indeed, despite only having been released in September, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite was the sixth biggest-selling video game of 2017.
Casino games at the forefront
Marvel-inspired games are among the most frequent. More recently, movie titles have made their way into mobile-friendly online casinos on a wide range of recommended online slot sites. Marvel characters are regularly included, with Iron Man 2 and The Incredible Hulk titles sitting alongside the likes of Gladiator, Pink Panther and Battlestar Galactica-inspired games. There is something about Marvel that gives them a disproportionately high section of this games market.
Not only blessed with an oven-ready fanbase of gamers, films containing Spiderman, X-Men and Guardians Of The Galaxy have narratives that lend themselves to games, with a clear protagonist and challenges to overcome throughout both the film and game experience. It can take years for games developers to build an audience's relationship with a character, but when taking this character from a popular film title, half the battle is won. It's something especially useful in casino games, where gamers are known to trust titles they know from the film industry above more unknown characters.
Away from entertainment
Marvel titles are aggressively marketed, we know that. Months before its release, the firm behind Deadpool's social media marketing antics made the 2016 film a safe bet for success at the box office and most Marvel films find themselves featured on cereal boxes, on billboards and filling expensive television advertisement slots. In many ways, a marketing campaign can do the job for games titles and merchandise streams at the same time as the movie itself.
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It's a phenomenon in no way limited to video games, of course. The toy industry provides a constant stream of Marvel memorabilia, from traditional action figurines to board games. It's the same for clothing - who didn't have a pair of Spiderman pyjamas - and merchandise as varied as mugs, doormats and poker sets.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a snowballing phenomenon that is showing no signs of slowing. With forthcoming titles including the Black Panther, Captain Marvel and a new Avengers film on the horizon, there seems no end to where the games industry and many others may take them.