Disney 'looking forward' to bringing Marvel licenses in-house

Current game deals are smart, but "there's nothing better than being one," says CEO

Disney has said that it won't rule out the possibility of working with third-party publishers on videogame titles based on the Marvel portfolio, and could see the company producing licensed as well as in-house superhero titles in the future.

However, Robert Iger, CEO of the company that intends to acquire Marvel for USD 4 billion, has said that although licensing can be lucrative, previous acquisitions have shown that bringing deals in-house is better for product quality and the financial business.

"On the videogames front they [Marvel] have what we see as smart licensing agreements with some of the best videogame manufacturers in the business and while we have been steadily moving in a vertically integrated direction we don't rule out the possibility of a blend of licensed games as well as self-produced and self-distributed," said Iger in a conference call to investors.

"What's nice about this is that as some of these deals near expiration we have the luxury of at that time considering what's best for the company, both from a financial perspective and a quality perspective and an exposure perspective."

Iger added that the company is looking forward to integrating Marvel licenses more closely with the Disney business, and the company's previous success with Pixar has proven it's better to operate as one business.

"When you have companies entering into third-party relationships for licensing they can often be quite attractive, and they continue to be," he said.

"But when you operate as one company and you vertically integrate, you remove from the equation a lot of friction, and when you're both aligned in terms of creating value that can often be really compelling. That's exactly what we found with Pixar.

"There were some licensing agreements that were attractive but there's nothing better than being one. And that's what we look forward to here."

Marvel's licensing in the videogame business includes partnerships with publishers Sega, Activision and THQ, as well as a deal for MMO and online titles produced by Gazillion Entertainment.

However, any changes to current licensing deals aren't like to happen in the short term. The deal with Gazillion Entertainment spans 10 years.

THQ has the rights to produce console games based on the Marvel Super Hero Squad series for younger players, Activision is set to publish Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 shortly, while Sega has deals in place for games based on The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Captain America.

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