This week, a ransomware group leaked over 1.3 million internal documents from PlayStation game development studio Insomniac Games, creators of the “Marvel’s Spider-Man” video game series. The leak included footage from the company’s upcoming Wolverine video game and private employee information. Documents also revealed Sony, Marvel, and Insomniac’s publishing deal for upcoming X-Men games.
PlayStation, Insomniac Games, and X-Men
According to Kotaku, a graphic released with the ransomware attack indicates that Insomniac and Sony have exclusive rights to use the X-Men as starring characters in video games for more than a decade. The roadmap includes four games based on X-Men characters, including the Wolverine game, which is reportedly scheduled for release on PlayStation 5 in 2026.
According to the graphic, the games are all set to launch by 2035 and sell through at least 2038, with the possibility to continue beyond that if the deal is profitable for all parties.
Each X-Men game has an allocated development budget of $120 million, as well as $30 million for marketing and a $9 million recoupable advance.
Several stipulations keep Marvel from using X-Men characters in certain ways for other games. X-Men characters aren’t allowed to appear as exclusive selling points in a game on another platform, but can still appear in Marvel crossover games. Marvel also can’t release, announce, or publish re-releases of old X-Men games within 45 days before or after Insomniac releases or announces one of their own X-Men games.
The parties cannot terminate this deal for convenience; however, they can terminate if any of the X-Men games do not sell at least six million units between PlayStation 5 and PC in their first year. If Sony and Insomniac terminate the agreement, they have to pay Marvel $9 million and unpaid portions of all guarantees. If Marvel terminates, the fees will be waived and Insomniac can continue to sell whatever games they have already released.
“Marvel’s Wolverine” was first teased two years ago at the PlayStation Showcase.
The X-Men have a complicated rights history in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, too. Though Disney bought Marvel in 2009, they could not use X-Men characters or reference mutants in Marvel Studios films as 20th Century Fox owned the film rights.
Disney purchased 20th Century Fox (now 20th Century Studios) in 2019. Wolverine, portrayed by Hugh Jackman, will make his first MCU appearance in “Deadpool 3” next year. A revival of the 1990s “X-Men: The Animated Series” called “X-Men ’97” will premiere on Disney+ in 2024 after a delay. The Fox acquisition also gave Disney access to the Fantastic Four, who will star in their own MCU film in 2025.
Are you looking forward to the “Wolverine” from Insomniac Games? Did you previously play the studio’s “Spider-Man” PlayStation-exclusive titles? Sound off in the comments below.