It wasn’t surprising that Sony chose Spider-Man to lead its suite of game reveals during the launch event Thursday for the PlayStation 5 console.
Lauded by critics and gamers alike, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s catalog of exclusives now has a new leader after “Marvel’s Spider-Man” became the company’s fastest-selling exclusive in 2018. The development of a sequel was a no-brainer, especially once Sony acquired the game’s developer Insomniac in 2019.
But the reveal for the sequel came with a twist, as its protagonist will be Miles Morales, a character from the comics who fronted the freshly conceived 2018 film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” which released to critical and commercial acclaim, winning an Oscar as well.
“Spider-Man: Miles Morales” is a change of direction for Spider-Man at SIE, as Insomniac’s game was not related to the Tom Holland-starring films or “Spider-Verse,” though it did feature its own version of Morales as a side character playable in some sections.
Sony has clearly adopted a stronger strategy to promote synergy between the film and gaming divisions. As always, the numbers show why.
“Spider-Man: Far from Home,” grossed more than any Sony Pictures film in history, and a whopping six out of ten of their top grossers are tied to Spider-Man. The endurance of the Marvel IP at Sony Pictures makes it a godsend for the company, so much so that Marvel parent Disney wanted to alter the Spider-Man film license in 2019 before both companies agreed to keep Sony’s films within the MCU.
Keeping the Spider-Man IP vital is a big priority for Sony, which is trying to mine the magic of its film studio through PlayStation Productions and its adaptations of signature franchises from SIE, including “The Last of Us,” set to be an HBO series, and “Uncharted,” which hits the big screen in 2021, starring none other than Tom Holland in the lead role.
SIE making Miles Morales the face of the next Spider-Man game shows that this divisional synergy will extend beyond adapting PlayStation exclusives into film and TV series. With the next sequels to their live-action and animated Spider-Man films delayed by COVID-19, “Spider-Man: Miles Morales” serves as a calling card to fans who may have first been introduced to Morales through the “Spider-Verse” film, as they need something to pass the long wait before they see him in theaters again.
The reality of this synergy is the ultimate endgame of PlayStation as a commercial product. While the tech features of the PS5 were allocated to a meager few minutes at the end of SIE’s presentation, one somewhat innocuous item was shown: a remote intended entirely for visual media use, similar to the Blu-ray remote sold separately for the PS4.
Though the current PS4 controllers are outfitted to guide you seamlessly through Netflix, HBO Max and other streaming apps, Sony knows the PlayStation brand is now a full-stop multimedia service. The company doesn’t just want you swinging around Manhattan for hours; when you’ve had enough, they want you to put the game controller down and replace it with the remote so you can put on the Spider-Man movies.
Details on pricing and a release date for PS5 are still to come, but one thing’s for certain: Spider-Man will be a defining brand for the next generation of games under Sony’s direction, and without a film or television studio of its own to complement content for the Xbox Series X, competitor Microsoft will be left to sweep up the webs.