“PlayStation absolutely has the rights” to decide which games get Spider-Man

"It comes back to the relationship with PlayStation and Marvel"

Spider-Man has been tied up in licensing hell for ages. Sony owns the film rights for the character, and the PlayStation 4-exclusive Spider-Man game hinted that those rights might go a bit further – and that speculation was exacerbated by the fact that Spider-Man will appear in the upcoming Avengers game exclusively on PlayStation.

“It comes back to the relationship with PlayStation and Marvel,” Crystal Dynamics co-head Scot Amos tells Comic Book. In a somewhat roundabout quote, Amos says that “When it comes down to choices of where and what Spider-Man can be, that’s a relationship question that PlayStation absolutely has the rights to, that as you guys know, with Sony’s ownership there, and Marvel with Sony saying, ‘Hey, this is something we can do. This is something we can do on this platform.'”

Sony certainly does not exercise exclusive rights to the Spider-Man character when it comes to games – the character appeared in every version of Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, and was part of the roster in the Switch-exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3.

The PlayStation versions of the Avengers game are also getting a suite of exclusive cosmetics for each new hero, but unlike Spider-Man, these will become available on other platforms 30 days after they launch. The Avengers game release date is set for September 4.

Our analysis

While it still appears that Sony’s rights to Spider-Man only truly apply to the films, it looks like the company is willing to exert some pressure in its relationship with Marvel in order to give the PlayStation name a notable edge – and, unfortunately, to ensure that the game’s ever-so-slightly worse on other platforms.

The details of exclusivity deals typically don’t become public, but they can take a variety of forms. Some take the form of straight-up money, while others see platform holders and developers taking on co-marketing efforts. Whatever the case, it seems that Sony is keen to ensure you associate Spider-Man with the PlayStation brand, and not just because of that PS3 font.