By Charles Bell
A lot of the biggest news in cinema in the past six months or so has concerned the impending expansion of DC’s film franchises. While Marvel has undoubtedly taken the lead not only in revenue but in generating fan interest, DC is on the cusp of some potentially major expansion. It all begins with Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice and continues into a number of potential series starters. In just a few years’ time, characters like Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and potentially even Batman will have new standalone films as DC looks to replicate some of Marvel’s incredible cinematic success.
But if DC is playing catch-up in the theaters, it may in fact lead the way already in gaming, where related characters have been at the center of popular options in various genres. Here’s a look at the best of modern DC gaming as it stands today.
The most widespread example of DC characters in modern gaming comes from DC Universe Online a counterpart to Marvel Heroes and arguably the gold standard of comic book gaming in the MMO genre. Developed by Daybreak and available for PS3, PS4, and PC users, the game allows players to create their own heroes (or villains) to play through a massive multiplayer DC universe with. This is a somewhat-unique concept in gaming and a sharp contrast with Marvel Heroes, in which players embody existing heroes. It’s a one-of-a-kind way to experience comic characters and themes in a playable way, and one of the most intriguing games from either comic book giant.
Another branch of gaming in which DC and Marvel have made similar impacts to date is in arcade-style brawlers. In this genre, Marvel’s Contest Of Champions has swiftly become one of the larger and more popular games on the mobile app market. And yet, DC’s Injustice: Gods Among Us may have an advantage. In app form, the two games are very similar, allowing players to collect new characters, level up, and brawl to their hearts’ content. However, Injustice has the advantage of also existing in console form, and it has received excellent reviews for play on Xbox 360 and PS3. In the eyes of those who simply want games incorporating vast selections of heroes, the offering of a console brawler alone gives DC the edge in gaming.
Interestingly enough, DC and Marvel have also been competing in an area of gaming where many probably don’t expect to see comic themes and characters: online casinos. For a few years now, Marvel has allowed various online gaming companies to use its character licenses to design games that are appealing to the existing comic fan bases. While these games have become pretty widespread, DC is in on the action as well.
But where DC has a clear edge is in standalone console-quality games. Somewhat bafflingly, there really hasn’t been a mainstream game for the likes of Thor, Iron Man, etc. to really get it right. Spider-Man has been at the core of a number of popular games over the years, and various X-Men games have kept Marvel in the conversation as well. But none of the Marvel games comes close to the quality or popularity of the Arkham series that has brought Batman and Gotham City to life for gamers for years now. Having culminated with the release of Batman: Arkham Knight this summer, the franchise set a new bar for comic gaming—at lea st on major consoles—and has left Marvel in the dust.
Given all of this, it’s fair to say DC is at the very least even with Marvel in terms of gaming prowess, and by some measures is decisively ahead. This may ultimately indicate that while the Marvel films have achieved a sort of status that generates repeated success, comic fans still enjoy DC’s characters and stories every bit as much.
Author bio: This is a guest post by Charles Bell. Charles is a freelance writer and tech and gaming enthusiast who has started to dive into the world of DC Comics these past few years.