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Analysis | Disney and Marvel’s first gaming showcase: All flash, little substance

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Analysis | Disney and Marvel’s first gaming showcase: All flash, little substance

Today entertainment behemoths Disney and Marvel hosted their first video game showcase as part of Walt Disney Company’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, Calif. Heaping helpings of hype preceded the event, but when the dust cleared, Disney showed next to nothing of anticipated offerings. Heavy hitters, like a new Marvel game from former “Uncharted” director Amy Hennig, were present largely in name alone. Actually, Hennig’s game doesn’t even have a name yet.

From Star Wars to Marvel, licensed video games are becoming more ambitious. Here’s why.

Ahead of the event, Disney and Marvel teased reveals and updates regarding the new life sim “Disney Dreamlight Valley,” as well as strategy title “Marvel’s Midnight Suns” and “Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.” Fans were also expecting a first look at Hennig’s new Marvel title from her current studio, Skydance. They barely even got that, as the reveal trailer offered just a quick CG flyover that hinted at what will reportedly be a World War II story starring Captain America and Black Panther.

The absence of any gameplay is conspicuous given Hennig’s recent track record; despite her legendary status in the video game industry, her recent directorial career has been characterized by false starts in the form of a version of “Uncharted 4” that never saw the light of day and a cancelled Electronic Arts “Star Wars” game called “Project Ragtag.”

Disney followed suit for other major announcements, which included little more than a logo for “Tron Identity,” which is coming from “John Wick Hex” studio Bithell Games in 2023, and a brief live-action teaser for “World of Heroes,” a new Marvel game from “Pokémon GO” creator Niantic that will also come out next year. Where they existed, gameplay showcases of titles like co-op platformer “Disney Illusion Island” and mobile massively multiplayer online shooter “Avatar Reckoning” inspired curiosity, but rarely excitement.

While there are many, many Star Wars games already in development — including a sequel to “Jedi: Fallen Order,” called “Jedi: Survivor,” as well as a first-person shooter, a strategy game, a narrative action title and a troubled “Knights of the Old Republic” remake — none of them made an appearance, nor did much-anticipated Marvel games like Insomniac’s “Wolverine” or “Spider-Man 2.″ Much of the presentation’s brief run was instead devoted to previously announced games like “Marvel’s Midnight Suns,” which after a delay is coming out on December 2. “Disney Speedstorm,” a kart racer, is coming “soon” and “Dreamlight Valley,” which is getting a new “Toy Story” adventure this fall.

Perhaps in time Disney and Marvel will learn the lesson industry monoliths like Nintendo know all too well: under-promise, over-deliver — or, failing that, set expectations accordingly. For the time being, their first event was defined more by absences than what was shown.

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Go to Publisher: Technology
Author: Nathan Grayson