Following Microsoft's recent announcement that it had secured the rights to build massively-multiplayer games based on the Marvel universe of comic stars, Activision has extended its own agreement with Marvel to allow it to create traditional "non-persistent" RPGs. By which it presumably means something like X-Men Legends, except with more characters in it.
Under the terms of the deal, Activision has exclusive rights to develop various RPGs using "a broad, ensemble cast of characters from the Marvel Universe" on PC and consoles. The first game under the new agreement will be released in fiscal 2007.
Activision already has Marvel-licensed games like X-Men Legends II and Ultimate Spider-Man due out beforehand, and the rather pitiful Fantastic Four game is currently riding depressingly high in the All-Formats UK Chart - although these were all arranged under property-by-property deals.
This shouldn't affect any Marvel characters under the control of rival publishers, as this deal is worded to suggest a single series of multi-character games rather than the acquisition of rights to all the juicy ones in one go.
Indeed, Ames Kirshen, Marvel's vice president of interactive (a slightly abstract concept), seems to say as much. "Rather than focusing on just one character, this unique license enables Activision to develop role-playing games that tap a broader base of characters from Marvel's expansive universe," he says in today's statement.
Meanwhile, Activision's Ron Doornink is so confident of the importance of the deal, he abandons all sense of ambiguity by saying virtually the same thing twice in a row, declaring: "This agreement further strengthens and helps to solidify our position as the number one publisher of Super Hero games." Up, up and away! Wait, no, that's the other lot...