Confirmed: Marvel Universe Online Canceled

Ending months of speculation, Microsoft Game Studios VP Shane Kim has confirmed that Marvel Universe Online is no longer in development.

According to Kim, the project's cancellation and was "an amicable decision" reached by both Microsoft and Marvel, and stemmed from the changing MMO landscape. "Clearly there are emerging models that have come about," he told MTV Multiplayer, pointing to alternative business strategies such as ad-supported play and item-oriented microtransactions.

Announced in 2006, Marvel Universe Online was planned for release on both PC and Xbox 360. The superhero MMO was under development by the veteran team of superpower-friendly developers at Cryptic Studios, which had previously been sued by Marvel for its work with the PC MMO City of Heroes.

"When we first entered into the development and agreement of the development of Marvel Universe Online, we thought we would create another subscription-based MMO," noted Kim. "If you really look at the data there's basically one that's successful and everything else wouldn't meet our level or definition of commercial success."

Kim is undoubtedly referring to Blizzard's World of Warcraft (PC) as the one MMO that would meet Microsoft's expectations for commercial success. The massively successful online effort has accumulated over 10 million subscribers since its 2004 release, and Blizzard's net revenue for the past year was $1.2 billion.

Rumors of the Marvel MMO's cancellation began circling last year, with both Cryptic and Microsoft refusing to comment at the time. Later rumors claimed that the project was being canceled as a result of massive technical problems, and that Cryptic would be handling recently-abandoned Star Trek MMO.

"At the end of the day, all of those combined for us to say, look, it's probably in the interest of both [Marvel and Microsoft] for us not to continue." Kim continued. "It's just something that we felt that, for us and for them, it would be better if we ended development. Which is disappointing, because that had a lot of promise. But sometimes you have to make these decisions."

Though Marvel fans may be saddened by the recent deluge of game cancellations--EA's Marvel fighting game is dead as well-- the comic book giant still has a number of interactive titles in the works, including Secret Level's Sega-published Iron Man and new Spider-Man and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance games from Activision.

Chris Faylor was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

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    February 11, 2008 8:41 AM

    I was kind of hoping that the Marvel MMO would keep Jack Emmert away from Star Trek Online. I feel that City of Heroes wouldn't have been successful without his vision but that some of the MMO design decisions he's made have been very poor.

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