LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Video gaming’s summer blockbuster season swings into action on May 4 when “Spider-Man 3” swoops into stores backed by the hype of a major Hollywood movie that should help spur big sales of the game.
The “Spider-Man 3” video game, made by Activision Inc. (ATVI.O), follows two previous versions based on the hit movies about the web-wielding superhero who, in this third version, battles the villainous Sandman and an equally menacing foe — the dark side of his own psyche.
Critics say the comic book storyline is perfect fodder for a video game and they expect its broad appeal to make “Spider-Man 3” one of the top-selling movie-based games of the year.
Sales of the first two “Spider-Man” games combined were around $300 million, according to game researcher, NPD.
“I think it’s going to do extremely well,” said Wedbush Morgan video game analyst Michael Pachter.
He added that Spidey’s evil alter-ego gave developers a way to boost the game’s edginess and appeal and called the Sandman an ideal villain.
“You punch him and your fist goes through. You have to get him wet and he melts. You have to be more resourceful,” he said.
Pachter expects the game to sell about 6 million units globally in Activision’s fiscal year ending March 2008. The figure would likely be a million or two more than Electronic Arts Inc.’s ERTS.O movie tie-in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” due in July, Pachter said.
“We made a real investment in ‘Spider-Man’,” said Activision Executive Producer Scott Walker.
Titles for the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Co. Ltd.’s 7974.OS Wii aim to give gamers “the sense of Peter Parker as a crime fighter,” Walker said. He added that players can do classic maneuvers like the “web rodeo” where Parker, or Spider-Man, uses his web shooting skill like a cowboy with a lasso.
Games for the hand-held Nintendo DS and GameBoy have a mass market appeal and friendly pick-up and play systems, Walker said.
All signs are pointing to big box office for the “Spider-Man 3” movie. The film’s marketing also helps build excitement for the game among the mostly young fans of both.
“The ‘Spider-Man’ video games based on the first two movies are some of the most successful movie tie-in games in history. I would expect that the third would experience success as well,” said NPD video game analyst Anita Frazier.
Movietickets.com this week said online ticket presales are coming in at a rate three times higher than for “Spider-Man 2” in 2004. Combined, the first two movies have grossed more than $1.6 billion in global ticket sales.
Ricardo Torres, editorial director at video game site GameSpot, said movie-based games tend to succeed and fail with their films. Spider-Man has wide international appeal because, he said, “everyone wants super powers.”
Torres noted that the “Spider-Man” games have never reviewed well. Still, he said, “they deliver on that ‘Spider-Man’ experience. It’s like done and done.”