Marvel Universe to return in new deal

Startup publisher also has LEGO MMO.

It's not often that a new publisher appears out of nowhere with seven MMOs up its sleeve. It's even less often that one of them is a high-profile resurrection of a canned title. Yesterday, Gazillion Entertainment announced that it existed, and was bringing back Marvel Universe.

In a VentureBeat article, Gazillion was revealed to be an ambitious 300-employee venture that had struck a deal to produce MMOs based on Marvel games. It's working on Marvel Universe, an MMO based on new Marvel cartoon Super Hero Squad, an unnanounced original game and several more across four studios.

Gazillion also revealed that it had bought NetDevil last year, and thus would be publishing the developer's LEGO Universe. It's not known if the deal will affect NetDevil's space combat MMO Jumpgate Evolution, currently with Codemasters and due for release this June.

Marvel Universe Online was originally a Microsoft project, in development for PC and Xbox 360 at Cryptic Studios, before it was canned and reborn as Cryptic's Champions Online. The new version, called simply Marvel Universe, is being developed by a studio called Gargantuan in San Mateo, California for PC and console.

Super Hero Squad is being made by an outfit called Amazing Society in Washington state, and will be the first Gazillion game to see the light of day next year. It will be browser-based, according to Big Download.

Amazing Society also has two other unannounced MMOs in the works. NetDevil has a third unannounced game in development, and Gazillion's fourth studio, Slipgate Ironworks (also in San Mateo) is working on an unannounced, original MMO.

Gazillion has been operating under a different name in"stealth mode" up to this date. Its deal with Marvel will last 10 years. Chief executive and president Robert Hutter says the company's aim is to find a new audience for MMOs with more accessible games.

Crazy. We'll bring you more on Gazillion and its games as it comes to light.

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