Insomniac Games is riding high right now thanks to the recent release of the critically-acclaimed PS4 game Marvel’s Spider-Man, but the Burbank, California-based studio could just as easily have made a game based on Black Panther, Thor or, well, pretty much any Marvel character they wanted.
In a new episode of the interview show IGN Unfiltered, Insomniac CEO Ted Price discussed the making of Spider-Man and how his team wound up working with Marvel in the first place. According to Price, he initially wasn’t too keen on working on someone else’s property, but his tune quickly changed when he saw the reaction from his staff.
“Connie Booth, who is a great friend, and also one of our partners at Sony, was down at Insomniac,” Price said, “and she said to me, one day, ‘What would you think about working on a Marvel game?'” At first, Price says he was “fairly neutral” on the idea, as Insomniac was known for making games based on original properties. “I hadn’t really considered working on someone else’s IP.”
Of course, you don’t just dismiss the opportunity to work on a Marvel game outright, so Price decided to ask around and see how other developers at his company felt about it. “The response I got was eye-opening for me,” Price said. “The answer was, ‘Are you crazy? Of course we’re going to work on a Marvel game!”
Even better, Marvel insisted on giving Insomniac full creative license and didn’t want the studio to do any sort of movie or comic book tie-in. In fact, they were willing to let Insomniac create their own version of any of their characters. “[Marvel said] ‘Look, we’ve got a lot of characters. Pick a character that you guys think works for you, and then we’d love to hear your take on it.”
So how did the studio settle on Spider-Man? Price said they discussed some other characters early on, but he doesn’t recall which ones specifically. However, it didn’t take long for Spidey to become the frontrunner, primarily because the Insomniac team saw a lot of themselves in Peter Parker the scrappy underdog.
“He’s so human, and he’s so relatable. He’s also the most popular Marvel character in the world, I think” Price said, “but it was more Peter and Spider-Man that drew us to that particular character.”
When Spider-Man was first announced, it was a surprise to see Insomniac’s name attached. However, it didn’t take long for fans to recognize the developer was a perfect fit, with many pointing to the studio’s work on the 2014 Xbox One exclusive Sunset Overdrive, an open-world game with a fun, Spider-Man-esque traversal system. Unsurprisingly, Price points to Sunset Overdrive as being a great stepping stone to developing Spider-Man.
“We realized that this game we had just made, Sunset Overdrive, really does help us think about how we could take traversal to the next level in a Spider-Man game,” Price said, “because we had been focusing on many of the same challenges within Sunset Overdrive.”
To learn more about the development of Marvel’s Spider-Man, be sure to check out Ted Price’s full, hour-long interview on IGN Unfiltered. For more on the game, be sure to read our review and our breakdown of the game’s many hidden secrets.