Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

December 15, 2005

Marvel/City of Heroes Suit Settled

Marvel has settled their lawsuit with NCSoft and Cryptic Studios over Marvel's claim that the City of Heroes game and various supplements encouraged the creation and use of Marvel-like characters that would hamper Marvel developing a similar game in the future. The suit was filed late last Fall and a selection of the charges were dismissed in the Spring of '05. Terms of the settlement are undisclosed.

I thought this was an odd case in that everything I read about it -- particularly histrionics from the gaming crowd that this was an attack on the neutral mechanism of character creation that people could potentially use for copying, comparing it to suing a box of crayons -- didn't seem to reflect the actual claim Marvel was trying to make. As I understood it, Marvel was arguing that a confluence of elements within the wider City of Heroes offerings, including prominent sample doppelgangers, meant that copying was not just possible, but encouraged. That nothing will be changed in the game's character creation mechanism doesn't necessarily mean Marvel's concerns in this matter were ignored.

Anyway, what many claimed Zeus-like from the top of a mountain was a case with no merit whatsoever had at least enough to stick around and make a settlement possible. No one would be surprised if the two companies worked together on a distinct Marvel product, and in fact some game industry watchers seem surprised that kind of deal wasn't pursued instead of a lawsuit.
posted 6:57 am PST | Permalink

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