NetEase and Marvel team on PvP shooter Marvel Rivals

NetEase is partnering with Marvel Games to develop Marvel Rivals, a shooter that effectively serves as the comic publisher’s answer to Overwatch and Valorant.

Like those games, two teams go against each other, with each player taking on the role of a different Marvel hero (or villain). While the characters don’t appear to have specific class roles, Valorant’s influence is clear in Rivals’ visual aesthetic.

In recent years, NetEase has largely been setting up Western studios headed up by veterans from BioWare and Ubisoft. By partnering with NetEase, Marvel gets a publisher with a foot into the Chinese game market.

NetEase previously worked with Marvel before on a pair of mobile games, but Rivals is being made for PC.

Marvel Games head Jay Ong called Marvel Rivals “one of our most ambitious game projects. […] We are thrilled to work with the incredible team at NetEase Games to help deliver the ultimate Super Hero team-based PVP shooter.”

NetEase senior VP Ethan Wang further commented its pairing with Marvel will “continue our commitment to build world-class development teams and reach global audiences with cutting edge experiences.”

Is the multiplayer space calling out for more heroes?

Superheroes have historically done pretty well as single-player games, but both Marvel and DC would like that same love in the multiplayer space. In recent years, both publishers have tried bringing their heroes to that genre with mixed results.

After 2022’s Gotham Knights, DC’s latest bid was Suicide Squad in February. Though the latter reportedly failed commercially, Rocksteady is committed to at least four post-launch heroes.

Meanwhile, Marvel’s Avengers was ended after a respectable three-year run. Insomniac had its own potential offering in Marvel’s Spider-Man: The Great Web, but that was seemingly canceled some time ago.

This puts Marvel Rivals in a weird spot. Beyond the novelty of doing a hero shooter with actual superheroes, NetEase and Marvel will have to contend with the genre’s recent history.

Someday, a studio will find the right blend of superheroes and multiplayer. Whether that’s a revival of Marvel Ultimate Alliance or X-Men Legends, or something wholly new like a superhero version of Helldivers 2, the answer is (probably) out there.

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