For nearly a decade, gaming developer Playtech and Marvel Comics have combined to make some of the best online slots ever. But these days have come to an end after Playtech pulled all Marvel-based slots from its library.
Playtech has made a large number of superhero slots based on Marvel characters like Captain America, Daredevil, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, and Spider-Man. They've also covered groups like the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and the X-Men.
The online gaming world received an early tip-off about the deal ending when Playtech sent affiliates a notification that they are "removing Marvel-branded games on March 31st." The notice also explained that starting April 1, affiliates can no longer advertise Marvel content and promotional materials.
Disney Moving Marvel Away from Slots Industry
In 2009, Disney purchased Marvel for $4 billion. Just four years later, they announced that gaming-related connections to their Marvel and Star Wars brands would be ending in the near future. It's taken longer than expected for this to happen, but the time is now upon us.
“Marvel discontinued plans to initiate or renew slot machine licensing arrangements as part of its integration with Disney,” said a Disney spokesperson. “The handful of remaining license agreements have expiration dates within the next few years."
The obvious reason why Disney is trying to disassociate its properties from internet gaming is because they're a family-friendly brand. And while attitudes have changed towards gaming in the last decade-plus, Disney has a certain reputation to uphold.
The company is a vocal critic of the increased gambling opportunities in Florida, where their iconic Walt Disney World resort is located. Some suggest that this criticism goes beyond just wanting to maintain a family-friendly brand, and borders on Disney wanting to protect their share of Florida's lucrative tourism industry.
Playtech Moving Forward with DC Comics
Despite the licensing agreement ending with Marvel, Playtech won't be moving away from superheroes any time soon. In February 2016, they signed a multi-year deal with DC Comics and have already produced the Green Lantern, Man of Steel, and Superman: The Movie slots.
Owned by Warner Bros., DC Comics is Marvel's biggest rival, featuring major characters like Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman.
Playtech and DC's agreement will extend into more major online slots titles, including Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, and The Dark Knight Trilogy.
Playtech CEO Mor Weizer is delighted at the prospect of working with DC Comics and their brand over the next few years.
“This is a hugely significant deal for Playtech and we’re delighted to have a wider-reaching Exclusive Casino DC film- and TV-branded content licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products,” said Weizer. “We’ve had phenomenal feedback from our licensees based on the high-quality and calibre of the DC-branded games we rolled out in 2016."
Playtech's Marvel Comics slots were huge hits in the early 2010s. But they've lost some popularity in recent years, with Playtech not replacing past hits. Given what Disney announced in 2013, it's little surprise why Playtech didn't try to develop many Marvel-based slots, considering that the license agreement was set to end.