Earlier today Sony sent waves through the gaming community when a post on the official PlayStation blog announced that Spider-Man will be coming to the upcoming Avenger’s game from developer Crystal Dynamics — as a PlayStation exclusive.
At the bottom of the post, Sony wrote the following:
We can’t wait for you to add Spider-Man to your Marvel’s Avengers roster in early 2021, and as we’ve promised before, he will be available at no additional cost to owners of the base game, exclusively on PlayStation.
Naturally this was met with mostly outrage from the gaming community, this Jersey Gamer included. While I’m thrilled to see that Spider-Man is going be a part of this upcoming super hero experience, I have strong feelings against the way it’s happening.
Sony Owns Spider-Man Rights
The first question that comes to mind for someone not in the know is how can something like this even happen. The short answer is that Sony has video game rights to the character. The less clear part of the answer is how far those rights extend (more on that in a minute).
Spider-Man and Sony are pretty synonymous at this point considering they’ve owned the film rights to the character for a number of decades. In the world of gaming, they asserted their dominance in 2018 when they released Marvel’s Spider-Man, a game which has an expansion/spin-off on the way when the PlayStation 5 comes out.
With that in mind, it’s not unreasonable to assume that Sony is going to get their money’s worth out of whatever Spider-Man video game rights deal they signed. There’s only one problem…
Spider-Man Has Been in Other Games Recently
Despite immediately linking Spider-Man to Sony, the character has been used by other developers in recent years.
First and foremost, the character has been included in every Marvel mobile game that’s been released over the last five years — Strike Force, _Future Fight, the list goes on. None of these games have been released by Sony.
More importantly, though, the web-slinger himself appeared in another Marvel game that has come out: 2019’s Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, which was released exclusively on the Nintendo Switch. Past that, Spidey was voiced by the exact same voice actor as the previous year’s PlayStation 4 release: Yuri Lowenthal. While it has been confirmed that the Spider-Man that is appearing in Avengers is not the same Spider-Man as the Gamerverse iteration of the character. Still, it really makes you think.
Sony is Once Again Being Anti-Consumer
The part of this that stings the most is that this is yet another move that Sony is making that is blatantly anti-consumer. While there are plenty PlayStation games that I love, I like to think I’m a pretty blunt person. As much as I love Uncharted, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and God of War, I’m still going to call Sony out when I think they’re in the wrong. This is one of those times.
From what I’ve seen from Crystal Dynamics, their aim with this game is to not divide consumers and give us the Avenger’s experience we deserve. This decision flies in the face of all that. Instead of letting gamers simply enjoy Avengers when it comes out, many of us are now being put in the awkward position of having to decide between two choices that should never have been a thing.
On one hand, if you have a PlayStation and an Xbox, it would look like there’s no reason to complain — you have both major consoles. But what if your primary platform you play on is Xbox, with your PlayStation being reserved strictly for single-player games?
That’s where Sony is approaching this from, if I had to guess. There’s going to be a major online component to this game and that means that you’ll need a subscription for PlayStation Plus in order to get the most out of the game. Locking one of Marvel’s most iconic characters to their own platform means they will also sell subscriptions to their online service. Cha-ching!
On the other hand, if you forsake your Xbox, you’ll be able to play as one of the greatest heroes in the Marvel Universe. (I’m biased here — I’m a lifelong fan of Spider-Man!)
The question I’m left with now is when will Sony start caring about uniting gamers as one community, instead of constantly driving a wedge between us?
Xbox and PC Exclusives?
At this time, there hasn’t been any announcement for an exclusive playable hero on either the Xbox or Windows releases of the game. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be one, but rather that there might be one. In all honesty, I hope there isn’t. The wedge driven between gamers with Spider-Man is bad enough as it is — I’d hate to see that wound made bigger by locking another hero or two on one specific platform.
I know the reaction to this game overall has been mixed, but I’m really excited to play it when it comes out. In the meantime, I really have a lot of thinking to do that I wish had never come up. While I’d like to think that Sony will reverse course due to outrage and merely make the character a timed exclusive, their previous actions haven’t led me to think that’s even remotely a possibility.
What do you think of Spider-Man joining Marvel’s The Avengers exclusively on PlayStation 5? Sound off in the comments below (and let’s keep it civil please)!