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New deal signals Marvel MMO revival

Gazillion Entertainment picks up licence for the comic book giant's online titles, including Super Hero Squad brand

Gazillion Entertainment has announced a partnership with Marvel Entertainment, spanning 10 years, which will see it create a series of online game worlds based around the comic book giant's IP.

According to VentureBeat, the deal will revive Marvel Online Universe, a project originally announced in 2006 with the collaboration of Microsoft and Cryptic Studios but was canned a year later.

However, the first Gazillion project will be a child-friendly MMO, based on Marvel's Super Hero Squad, set for release in 2010 after the TV show debuts later this year on the Cartoon Network.

Gazillion is a 300 strong company comprising of four development studios, including NetDevil, which is also at work on LEGO Universe.

The Gazillion partnership with Marvel is for online titles only, and a question remains as to whether THQ, who announced a deal with Marvel for the Super Hero Squad franchise, will have any involvement in the MMO. GamesIndustry.biz has contacted THQ for clarification.

Robert Hutter, chief executive and president of Gazillion, has secured an unannounced sum of investment to recruit talent from other companies, including Blizzard, Pixar, Microsoft, Apple, and others. The management team also includes Paul Baldwin as marketing chief, formerly of Eidos Interative.

The group's investment has come from Oak Investments, Allen & Company, Founder's Fund, Hearst Corp. Investment Group, Revolution Ventures and UV Partners.

Gazillion covertly operated as NR2B Research when it created four game studios and picked up an array of MMO projects.

Among the four studios are the Amazing Society, currently working on the Super Hero Squad title as well as two other unannounced projects, and Net Devil, which is working on LEGO Universe and Jumpgate Evolution titles in addition to another unannounced project.

Also under the Gazillion umbrella is Gargantuan, currently work on Marvel Online Universe, and Slipgate Ironworks, which is working on an unannounced original MMO.