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Is Sucker Punch Working On A Spider-Man Game?

by Mike Futter on May 18, 2016 at 08:03 AM

Over the past few months, there have been rumblings about another Spider-Man game in development. The web-head has fallen on tough times, with flops tied to movies and featuring independent stories. With the friendly neighborhood hero swinging into Captain America: Civil War and getting another reboot (this time under Marvel’s direct guidance), fans are hopeful that evidence is pointing to a similar treatment in games.

There is a collection of data points that hint that there’s a new Spider-Man game in the offing. The first emerged on April 21, via a pair of tweets from an account called NerdLeaks and then evidence surfaced by internet tipster Nibel and also captured by Shack News, which linked to a now-private stuntman and motion capture artist Stephen Oyoung’s resume listing “Untitled Spiderman PS4 Project” (sic).

The PlayStation 4 bit was brushed off as a mistake, as it seems highly unlikely from a business perspective that Activision and/or Marvel would restrict themselves to a single platform. However, since then there have been hints that Sucker Punch, a Sony-owned studio, is cooking something up that might be connected to Spider-Man.

The studio certainly has experience with superhero games, with three Infamous titles under its belt. Current job listings on the developer’s website point to hiring for something “spectacular,” a word often associated with Marvel’s web-slinging hero.

Further, though possibly only a coincidence, Sucker Punch animation director Billy Harper tweeted over the weekend that he was going to see Civil War again “Cuz…reasons.” Admittedly, those reasons could simply be because he’s an ardent Team Cap supporter and not because he’s studying up on Spidey’s excellent Marvel Cinematic Universe debut. 

There are a couple of things on the business front to keep in mind. In 2005, Activision locked up the rights to Spider-Man games based on movies and television through 2017 (and also has the rights to publish original stories separate from on-screen appearances). While that hasn't precluded the character from making other appearances (Disney Infinity, Marvel Heroes, and Lego Marvel Superheroes), games specifically focused on the wall-crawler seem to be under lock-and-key at Activision. Were this deal dissolved, it would likely have been reported to investors.

We must also consider the possibility that Sucker Punch is laying the ground work for development following the expiration of Activision's licensing agreement. It's possible that Sony and Marvel have an arrangement that hasn't yet been announced. Again though, with licensed properties, return on investment is lower due to another finger in the pie. A single-platform release, even one starring Spider-Man, seems risky.

There’s certainly nothing concrete yet. But we’re watching closely to see if Sony might have scored a huge exclusive or if it’s teaming up with Activision to put a game on multiple platforms.


Our Take
Regardless of whether Spidey ends up in Sucker Punch’s hands or some other developer’s, it’s likely we’ll see him appear in his own game again. Spider-Man Homecoming, the first of Marvel’s Spidey films is on the way, and the hero's powers and personality make him a popular target for the industry.

If Sucker Punch is working on a Spider-Man game, we have to wonder if Sony and Activision have struck some kind of deal to make it happen. Activision seems to be winding down its licensing business it seems, with recent layoffs that have hit hard the Minneapolis location (responsible for that piece of the business). It's not out of the realm of possibility that the two companies could work together on a multi-platform title that benefits both, giving Sony reach to Xbox and PC and Activision a studio with a proven track record of successful super-powered games.