Marvel Enterprises has inked a deal with video game manufacturer Electronic Arts to develop a series of 'shoot-em up' fighting games pitting Marvel superheroes against characters developed by Electronic Arts. This deal is of somewhat more importance to pop culture retailers than some of Marvel's other moves in the video game arena, since Marvel has agreed to publish comics based on some of the new EA-created characters. Marvel, which is now primarily a licensing house, will also act as a licensing agent for these new characters. The first of the Electronic Arts/Marvel games is scheduled for delivery in late 2005, so new comics based on the EA characters are probably at least two years away.
Marvel's deal with Electronic Arts includes more than 100 of Marvel's top superheroes, though the Hulk and Punisher characters were excluded from the deal, presumably because Marvel's contracts with Vivendi Universal Games (Hulk) and THQ (Punisher) precluded it. However Marvel's two top franchises, Spider-Man and the X-Men, are included in the EA, in spite of the fact that Marvel has a pre-existing licensing arrangement with Activision for both Spider-Man and the X-Men videogames. Apparently the fact that the Marvel/EA games are 'fighting games' means that they do not conflict with Marvel's Activision agreement.