Leading publisher Electronic Arts has signed a new deal with comic book empire Marvel which will see the company developing a series of fighting games featuring Marvel superheroes and a range of new characters.
The deal encompasses the majority of Marvel's superhero franchises, and will allow EA to include characters such as Spider-Man and the X-Men in its games even though they are already covered by videogame deals with Activision.
Under the terms of the deal, EA will be creating a number of new characters for inclusion in the games, for which Marvel will then act as a licensing agent and will create comic books based on them - effectively adding value to EA's new IP.
Currently under development at EA's studio in Canada, the game will be one of EA's first forays into the fighting game market, which is traditionally dominated by Japanese companies - and indeed, the previous successful Marvel beat 'em ups were developed by Capcom, and featured characters from Capcom's own Street Fighter franchise among others.
The only major Marvel franchises not included in the EA deal are The Hulk, for which Marvel has a deal with Vivendi Universal Games, and the Punisher, for which it has a deal with THQ.
The first "Marvel vs. EA" title (we doubt it'll be called that, but it's the best we could come up with on short notice) is expected to be released in late 2005.