Friday, September 24, 2004

Why Bill Gates is worth a zillion dollars and Marvel Comics isn't.

Call them Micro$oft if you like, call his OSs Emmenthaler-ware if you must, but, like Aretha Franklin, give Bill Gates his propers when you get home. Because he knows at least one secret of staying on top: if you can't beat 'em, co-opt 'em.

Cross platform software and web deployment were ideas too good for even the mighty Microsoft® boot to crush, so, recognizing this, he decided that if there was going to be cross platform, it would be his, creating the .NET architecture to, basically, out Java™ Java™.

But what does this have to do with Marvel Comics™? Well, I play a game called Freedom Force™, where you take a team of ersatz superheroes through several adventures. The company that made it, Irrational Games, made it pretty customizable. And if you could get your hands on 3DS Max, you could make your own figures for the game. And of course someone did and did. And they proceeded to make Marvel characters among others.

Only problem is, Marvel wants to make and sell its own video games for its characters. So in true "Hulk smash!" fashion, it's been busting Irrational Games's chops about the Freedom Force fanbase making figures and scenarios. They want it to stop, so that people will play their games for their characters. I have no problem with that. But from what I am told, most of those games aren't as good as Freedom Force.

So what's a mother to do? Well, if that mother is Bill Gates, he licenses his characters for Freedom Force. He makes Irrational Games pay through the nose, who then passes those costs onto you. He gets rich, Irrational gets rich, fans are poorer but happy. Instead, Marvel aggravates a piece of their dwindling fanbase.

So where is DC Comics, the house of Superman, in all of this? Nowhere, it seems, and that's a shame. Because if DC were to license Freedom Force first, it would give them a monster share of the action and leave Marvel out in the cold. But DC isn't exactly Bill Gates either, it seems.

So the moral of the story is that, as a capitalist, Bill Gates has earned a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I also don't understand why DC hasn't done this, unless they've worked out a licensing deal with another company. They've got iconic characters who can earn lots of money on TV and in movies, and Freedom Force has a fanatical fan base still active after all this time.