Marvel World Of Heroes EP Phil Hong Talks About The Big Differences From Pokemon Go

Phil Hong has a long history with Marvel mobile games. Before joining Niantic, Hong spent nearly a decade with Disney running Marvel’s Asia game development as well as representing Disney, Marvel, and Lucasfilm in the Asian markets. He was an executive producer on Marvel: Future Fight, and when Niantic acquired Marvel Strike Force creators Seismic Games in 2018, Hong joined the LA-based studio to serve as executive producer on a new location based AR game, Marvel World of Heroes.

Hong describes Marvel World of Heroes as “the fantasy of becoming a Marvel superhero in the real world.” He says players will get to experience their own origin story as they acquire powers and battle alongside Earth’s mightiest heroes. Just as Pokemon Go turns every leisurely stroll into opportunities to catch amazing creatures, Hong wants World of Heroes to add excitement to your day-to-day routines. “I’m not just walking my dog, I’m on a patrol quest for Nick Fury,” he tells me. “I’m not just at the shopping mall picking up my groceries, I’m actually finding and infiltrating a Hydra base.”

All of Niantic’s post-Pokemon Go games tried to build on its success while stretching in different directions. Hong says there are a few things that set World of Heroes apart from Pokemon Go. First, it will feature a far more in-depth avatar creator so that players can have more customization options and really feel like they’re putting themselves in the game. “Our avatar creator is pretty robust,” he says. “It’s definitely deeper than you’ve seen in any other Niantic game.” It features a variety of skin tones, body types and shapes, as well as a selection of outfits.

Personalization is a big focus for World of Heroes. Once you create your character, you’ll continue unlocking things like items, gear, and new powers for your character. The upgrades and gear you collect don’t just increase your power, they also affect how your avatar looks. “That’s how the personalization starts to really evolve,” he says. “Your character gets pretty interesting.”

Another focus for World of Heroes is something Hong called “location awareness”. He says World of Heroes will be able to use location data to create experiences that are “contextually relevant.” When it gives you a quest to stop a bank robbery, for example, it will take you to an actual bank in the real world.

Of course, you can’t have a Marvel superhero game without combat, and Hong says they’re leveraging the studio's experience with Strike Force and his background on Future Fight to create a combat system that is straightforward, tight, and rewarding. “We know how to do combat in a mobile game with Marvel characters,” he says. “There’s a crispness to that that we’re really dialing in.” Though the trailer seems to indicate players will be gesturing in front of their cameras to use weapons and attacks, Hong says all of the interaction will still happen on your touch screen. “We don’t want to encumber the experience,” he says. “We’re focusing on the on-screen combat experience, but then planting those seeds of imagination for you that this combat experience you’re having is happening in the real world. That’s what’s meaningful.”

Superheroes, bank heists, and super-powered fights sound like a lot, but Hong says the team wants to be careful not to overburden players with too much to look at. “Someone once told me it doesn’t take much to trick the brain to see something in a different way,” he explains. “We’re just trying to plant cues in the gaming experience lightly and let the player fill in the blanks.”

World of Heroes will have parallels to all of the standard Pokemon Go locations, including PokeStops, Gyms, and Raids. Hong also recognizes that big in-person events are a fundamental part of Pokemon Go’s success and wants to maintain that with World of Heroes. It’s easy to picture a big event like Go Fest, where instead of everyone raiding together to capture Mewtwo, they're all fighting Galactus or Thanos. “It’s exactly where everyone wants to go, including Marvel,” Hong says. “I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves right now, but that fantasy is absolutely a north star for us on where we want to be.” Hong says they want to make sure they leverage the infrastructure that Niantic already has in place in order to pull off big, Go Fest-like events. “Being able to do something like that with the Marvel audience is absolutely something I would love to do. You’re already filling the image in your head. Everybody in cosplay, sharing this collective hallucination that we’re fighting giant galactic threats as part of a band of superheroes. Who doesn’t want to play that?”

Marvel and Pokemon Go sounds like the perfect match, but when you consider it’s being developed by the Marvel Strike Force team, led by the executive producer of Marvel: Future Fight, it’s hard not to worry about the monetization model Marvel World of Heroes will use. Both of those games have aggressive freemium models that are very unlike Niantic’s games. Hong says World of Heroes won’t be exactly like any of those games, but will instead try to find a happy medium between them. “We know what works with Pokemon Go, and a lot of us on the team know what works in Future Fight and Strike Force,” he says. “We’re still early, but our goal is to really strike that right balance.”

Niantic is juggling a lot of exciting games right now. Alongside Pokemon Go and Pikmin Bloom, Niantic is also developing Peridot, a Tamagotchi-like AR game with some seriously impressive tech behind it, NBA All-World, and Campfire, a social hub for all of it’s games, which Hong says World of Heroes will also be part of.

Source: Read Full Article