Last November, both Sony and Microsoft rolled out their next-generation consoles in the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series S/X respectively. While support for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One hasn’t dried up yet, it’s inevitable that the boxes we’ve enjoyed for the past seven years will become quaint relics. To that end, I thought it would be interesting to go back through each year of what is now “last generation” and look back at the big comic book video game news and releases.
What better way to kick things off to where it all started: in the distant year of 2013.
In November of 2013, the successors to the eight year old Xbox 360 and seven year old PlayStation 3 were made available to physical and online retailers after having been revealed earlier to the public earlier that year. Though both machines were more or less evenly matched in specs, Sony took an early lead in the generation and only continued to build upon that momentum as the years rolled on. Microsoft would go on to make some smart, consumer friendly moves eventually – like the introduction of the subscription service Game Pass – but their Xbox One platform would never reach the same heights as the Xbox 360.
This was mostly due to some poor mistakes and mixed messaging early in the Xbox One’s life cycle. At E3 in 2013, Sony was quick to produce a short parody video detailing how easy it was to trade games by showing two major executives handing off a disc. Meanwhile, Microsoft spoke of an unpopular plan about their box having to perform 24 hour online checks as a form of DRM. They were quick to roll back this policy after its unanimous negative reception.
Then there was pricing. Sony made the mistake of launching the PlayStation 3 at the high price of $599 USD for the model with the most storage, a whopping 60 GB, a mistake they did not want to make again. With the PlayStation 4, it landed with the far more competitive price of $399 USD. Microsoft on the other hand would come in $100 more at $499 USD due to all consoles coming with the new model of the Kinect motion tracking camera.
Like their DRM policies, this too would be something that Microsoft would change with future releases of the Xbox One. With the redesigned Xbox One S and X, the only way to even use Kinect would be with an adaptor that would allow the camera to interface with the console.
Sony would get two somewhat exclusive comic book games for the PlayStation 4 at launch, though both would also be playable on previous generation machines. The superhero MMO DC Universe Online, which on consoles was only available on the PlayStation 3, was available to download and your progress was able to carry over from the original version also.
The second was the Ultimate Edition of the fighting game released earlier in the year Injustice: Gods Among Us. This rerelease collected all of the post-launch DLC into one package and would also be made available on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. When it came to the at the time next-generation machines however, Xbox One would be left out completely.
If you were unable to either afford or find a PlayStation 4, the Ultimate Edition on PlayStation 3 came with a voucher to download a digital copy of the game on PlayStation 4. Unlike the free upgrade path for Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales on PlayStation 5, players would have to pay a fee for the privilege of getting the shiny new game for Sony’s new machine.
Easily the most unforgettable comic book game to land on both consoles was LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, the first Marvel outing from developer TT Games having already dabbled in the DC Comics space with two Batman outings. With a highly enjoyable campaign that crossed the entire Marvel Universe and an open world Manhattan to explore full of side-activities, it was easy to sink hours into LEGO Marvel Super Heroes and have a big smile on your face the entire time.
Landing when it did, the game allowed you to control the Fantastic Four, their arch nemesis, Doctor Doom, as well as heroes and villains from the X-Men camp. Due to 20th Century Fox controlling the cinematic rights of both properties at the time, this would be the only real way to experience these characters in the interactive space for the entire generation. It’s only been in recent years in games like Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, released in 2019 exclusively on Nintendo Switch, that players have been able to take control of characters from either team.
Like it was for DC Universe Online and Injustice Gods Among Us, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes would also come to devices like the PS3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo’s at the time new machine, the Wii U. While next-gen exclusive comic book games would be revealed early in the new year, it wouldn’t be until 2015 until you absolutely needed to upgrade to experience them.
Join us next time as we dive into 2014 where the public gets their first glimpse at Batman: Arkham Knight and The Avengers enter the toys-to-life genre.