It’s fair to say that Marvel’s success in the mobile gaming arena tends to go overlooked. While app-based titles may not fully make up for the relative lack of AAA console games produced by the company, there have been some very big hits. Marvel: Contest Of Champions is a titanic fighting and RPG game with a gigantic player base and shows no signs of slowing down its constant expansion anytime soon. And Marvel: Strike Force has had similar success as a turn-based RPG.
What’s interesting about this success though is that Marvel hasn’t used them to justify further exploration of mobile-appropriate genres. Contest Of Champions and Strike Force have thrived in part because their gameplay works very well on touchscreens and small devices. The formula, then, would seem simple: Find more genres that work well in mobile gaming, build experiences incorporating Marvel themes and characters, and enjoy a constant stream of downloads and in-game purchases.
It may be that Marvel has simply switched its focus to consoles. The latest Spider-Man release based on the Miles Morales iteration of the character is a triumph, and there are more AAA games in the pipe. But should Marvel ever decide to make another easy buck or two in the mobile category, there are a few games that seem like no-brainers.
When you think of mobile baseball games, chances are your mind jumps right to imitations of Major League Baseball. There are a number of games in this category that strive to be realistic, incorporating real players and teams and allowing fans to play out regular games and seasons. Some of these games are pretty good! But when you look at the best baseball video games in history, the truth is most of them are less realistic. Beloved games in this category include the likes of Base Wars (involving robots playing the game), Backyard Baseball (a lovable cast of original kid characters), and Super Mario Sluggers. It would seem both easy and wise for Marvel to add itself to this list with a baseball game revolving around superhero characters.
How to make it unique: This one’s easy: Go crazy with characters. Even casual observers who don’t read the comics have come to recognize just how broad the Marvel universe is by this point, and frankly it’s more than enough to populate an entire league of fictional teams with Marvel baseball players. A game like this featuring 300 characters or so would be a big deal. Oh, and go ahead and jack the Hulk’s power-hitting rating up to 1,000.
We don’t see quite as many games along the lines of Backyard Baseball in the poker category. But there are more characters involved in this type of game than you may realize. Plenty of computer and mobile poker games over the years have invited players to customize characters and play against other animations. Additionally, it’s not uncommon to see poker included within larger video games — including in some Super Mario installments. So really it’s not unreasonable to imagine a Marvel-infused mobile poker game. Games could take place in famous MCU settings (a table on a balcony in Asgard, a game in Tony Stark’s basement, etc.), and players could play against either AI or other players represented by popular characters. It would be a simple concept, but one that would draw a huge base of players.
How to make it unique: Branch out beyond Texas Hold’em. Hold’em has become far and away the most widely played brand of poker, and so should be included. But there are other fun varieties as well, and giving players options would make this a better poker game than most. The rules for Omaha poker are perhaps most similar to those of Hold’em, with only slight differences concerning how players assemble hands. It would make for a natural secondary option. Beyond Omaha though, five-card stud and five-card draw are also easy enough for players to get the hang of. All of this variety would really elevate the game, and make it appealing to poker enthusiasts in addition to just Marvel fans.
Point-and-Click Marvel Mystery
This is a broader or more fluid idea, in that there are a lot of different types of point-and-click mystery mobile games. Popular examples range from Year Walk to The Room, but the general format remains the same: Players are introduced to mysterious circumstances and then gain the freedom to simply look around screen by screen, gathering clues and perhaps working through haunting narratives. It’s an easy format to work into just about any theme or licensing agreement, and there’s no reason Marvel couldn’t produce a remarkable game of this ilk. It could explore any number of characters and settings, and give players a new way to explore the world of Marvel.
How to make it unique: Scare people. In all seriousness, the best games in this category thrive by being genuinely spooky, and this isn’t something we’re used to getting from Marvel. So while a scary point-and-click mystery might not be wholly unique in mobile gaming, it would be something decidedly new for modern Marvel fans.
As we alluded to, it’s hard to say whether or not Marvel has much interest in expanding its mobile gaming branch. If it does though, these seem like ready-made hits on a platter. Let’s hope we see something like them in the near future!