License to kill: Activision’s Marvel games gone from digital sale for good

Deadpool is one of several recent Marvel games removed from sale of New Years Eve.

If a licensed game falls onto digital shelves and nobody buys it, does it stick around? Deadpool hasn’t. Released in the summer, it combined rote beat ‘em uppance and a metanarrative that saw the crimson antihero poke characteristically at his own borders, to lukewarm effect. We didn’t write about it, and now it’s available only as a rare boxed copy or one of a handful of still-to-be-sold keys. Along with a gaggle of past Activision Marvel titles, it’s been unceremoniously – and permanently – removed from Steam.

Games featuring Deadpool, Spider-Man and the X-Men disappeared from the distribution platform and others like it on New Year’s Eve, when Activision’s license expired. The publishers had been running an PSN and Xbox Live sale on affected games since December 21.

“For those asking about it,” said Activision community manager Dan Amrich yesterday, “Marvel Activision titles are no longer available for digital download.”

When responding tweeters placed the blame on new Marvel owners Disney, Amrich added: “Contracts have dates. Whatchagonnado.”

The games include Deadpool, Spider-Man: Friend or Foe, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Spider-Man: Edge of Time, X-Men: The Official Game, X-Men Destiny, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The Marvel vs Capcom series has also been whisked away like so much code in the wind.

“Just as Capcom was asked to remove their Marvel games from download,” note Amrich, “so did we.”

Curiously, though, Activision’s working relationship with Marvel didn’t end with the new year. They have another Amazing Spider-Man game due in the Spring, and are “still making games together”.

“Beyond ASM2 nothing has been announced,” said Amrich. “I do not know what the future holds but will report whatever I learn.”

Ongoing collaboration or no, I can’t imagine that when Activision greenlit Deadpool they intended to sell it for six months only. What on Asgard might arbitrary license limits like these mean for, say, Gazillion’s MMO Marvel Heroes?

Thanks, Neogaffersand Game Informer.