Marvel teams up with Smith & Tinker

Katie Gatto · September 13, 2010 · Short URL:

Upcoming battles - Wolverine vs Iron Man on Facebook and Apple's iPhone?

Want to see Wolverine face off with Iron Man? You'll soon be able to see that in action.

Smith & Tinker teamed up with Marvel to bring its pantheon of heroes and villains to Facebook and Apple's iPhone.

For the Bellevue-based Smith & Tinker, this will be its first foray into both mobile and social gaming. For Marvel, however, this will be its second attempt at social gaming, after a two-year hiatus. Back in 2008, Marvel cancelled  its social media intiative called Marvel Universe Online, a MMORPG (massively multi-player online role-playing game). 

Marvel also has other iPhone-based games such as Spider-Man: Total Mayhem, and Iron Man 2 and its characters havebeen featured in a variety of console based video games.

The new game - which doesn't have a title just yet - will focus on digital collectibles. Players will collect different characters, and dual them in a near endless stream of mashups. The Marvel franchises that are already known to be included in this game version include The X-Men, Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man and Wolverine. These match-ups will allow users to battle in a style similar to Nanovor, or the series of Pokemon games that have been popular with users of the Nintendo DS portable gaming system.

Both Nanovor, and the as-yet-untitled Marvel game, will include finding your players in the game and then pitting them in quick combat sessions against your friends.

Essentially, you're "collecting" your players. You don't start off with, say Wolverine. You have to earn him with points that you win during battles.

This collectibles concept has been successful for other Facebook based games, such as the massively-popular Farmville, made by Zynga, which currently boasts 24,381,476 fans on Facebook.

The Nanovor game, which was also made by Smith & Tinker, did not prove to be a success for the company, largely because the online game came with a $50 toy that needed to be purchased in retail stores in order to be played online. Additionally, it needed to be installed on a PC. The failure of this game eventually led to a 30% reduction in staff by Smith & Tinker. The game has since been reworked into Nanovor Evolution, a Web-based version of the game with a version for iPhone to be released in the future.

By switching platforms to Facebook and iPhone these issues can be minimized, if not completely eliminated, since users will not have to buy a physical unit and game costs will be reduced.
Marvel currently has a strong presence on Facebook, with 370,849 users who like them, at the time of the writing of this article. This may be able to help them to leverage their popularity in order to bring in an initial base of users to the game. These efforts will be added to Marvels social gaming push. They currently have an MMORPG in development with Gazillion.

Marvel is currently owned by Disney. Joe Lawandus, one of the founders of Smith & Tinker was a former executive for Disney. The other founder, Jordan Weisman, helped to found companies like Virtual World Entertainment and WizKids. The company, which was founded in 2007, raised $29 million in venture capital in August 2009 from DCM.

Neither Marvel nor Smith & Tinker were avaliable for immediate comment.

(Image from Got em Need em Trade em)

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Zynga is the largest social gaming company with 8.5 million daily users and 45 million monthly users.  Zynga’s games are available on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5, Friendster, Yahoo! and the iPhone, and include Texas Hold’Em Poker, Mafia Wars, YoVille, Vampires, Street Racing, Scramble and Word Twist.  The company is funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, IVP, Union Square Ventures, Foundry Group, Avalon Ventures, Pilot Group, Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel.  Zynga is headquartered at the Chip Factory in San Francisco.  For more information, please visit