Here’s another entry into this month’s CBK Competition, this time from Abel Nicolo Yu. He’s done a great job looking into Marvel’s social game, Marvel Avengers Alliance. If you like the article, you can follow him on Twitter.
I admit it; I play Marvel Avengers Alliance (MAA).
In fact, I play too much of it apparently since I’ve maxed out the level of my character. Playing it pretty much consumes most of my free time; or at least until I exhaust my in-game energy points.
What Is It?
It is an engaging game where one plays as a SHIELD agent, reporting directly to spy chief Nick Fury and his adjutant Maria Hill no less, tasked to contain the fallout of a meteor and its fragments called ISO-8. This ISO-8 has the potential to enhance the powers of metahumans or unlock it in normal humans. Because of this, hordes of super villains and their minions are competing with SHIELD to stockpile the fragments of this miracle rock.
The player-agent doesn’t go into his missions alone. He teams up with heroes ranging from the iconic, like the movie star Avengers, to the obscure, like femizon Thundra who looks like she just stepped out of a 70’s comic book page. This is one of the game’s draws, to be able to build a collection of heroes and quite recently, villains for you to play in your SHIELD missions.
The game just concluded its first season and has just released an iOS app. It is also playable on Facebook and on the developer Playdom’s site. Currently, each platform is standalone. You cannot import your progress from Facebook to the iOS app, but I hope Playdom finds a way because this is one feature that I really like on another game I play, Candy Crush. Still, MAA is quite popular. Its app page on Facebook boasts more than 3 million likes and I estimate at least a million active users.
Marvel is missing out on a great opportunity here. The top selling comic books usually sell a 100,00 copies, and the average titles sell for a lesser number of units. On the other hand, you have a million active users on MAA and I’m willing to bet more than a fair number of those players don’t read comic books regularly. They play the game because of their familiarity of the characters from the various Marvel movies.
What Are They Missing?
MAA could be a platform to deliver content to this untapped market. Marvel can start by tying it up with their digital comic initiatives. For example, the game has a featured side quest right now called the lockbox collection where the player earns lockboxes on various quests. These lockboxes contain comic covers and the players have to collect 8 covers to unlock a special playable character. The odds to obtain these covers are quite high so this is a very tricky quest to complete, but the character unlocked is not available anywhere else in the game so players go all out to accumulate boxes. What if, a player unlocks that character and it also unlocks a digital copy of that character’s first appearance comic? That could be a potential gateway for that player into Marvel myriad digital comics offerings.
Marvel could also offer original game based content since the game follows a different continuity but parallels the current in one in Marvel. Marvel and Playdom already work closely before. MAA had a few Special Operations, another limited edition side quest that unlocks a limited character, that mirror the big events in Marvel comics. MAA have already had their Avengers Versus X-Men tie-in and recently had an Ultron side quest in concert with the recently concluded Age of Ultron miniseries. The possibilities are endless, but only if Marvel gets to work on it soon.