No Stopping Superheroes as Marvel Goes Wireless

Comic book giant Marvel Enterprises has signed a deal with Riot Entertainment to bring its animated content to the wireless Web in the form of interactive games, icons, and community and chat forums.

The wireless content will be available at the end of this month in the European market, with plans to enter the U.S. market by the end of this year.

Marvel is targeting the wireless content at consumers in their late teens to 25 years old.

“This younger market is the most active in the interactive gaming and chat room services, and as the technology becomes increasingly available to deliver these services, that market will continue to explode,” said Jan Wellman, CEO of Riot Entertainment, Helsinki, Finland.

The gaming will enable users with two-way-enabled wireless devices to battle each other as popular Marvel characters, such as the X-Men or Spiderman. Users also can battle a programmed character. The game will feature graphics similar to Nintendo Game Boy programs, Wellman said.

Marvel initially is introducing the game in Europe because of the prevalence of two-way, wireless phones that support Web access.

“We are simply waiting for this technology to move to the U.S. to focus on that market,” he said.

Users with devices that support the two-way, short-message service and wireless application protocol also will be able to access community chat forums and collect Marvel character icons to post on their wireless screens.

Riot has signed revenue-sharing agreements with 12 wireless telecommunications companies in 12 countries, including large wireless markets such as Italy, France, Spain, Britain, Germany and Finland. Wellman would not disclose the names of the telecom companies. Riot will take an undisclosed share of revenues gained from wireless minutes used to run the Marvel program. It will share an undisclosed percentage of this revenue with Marvel, New York.

Wellman said that while Riot has no advertisers on board yet, the company plans to add advertising to the revenue stream in the near future.

“The product represents a good avenue for advertisers to focus on the teen to 25-year-old demographic, but wireless advertising is not advanced enough yet to use it as a revenue stream,” he said.

Wellman, who previously developed online- and CD-ROM-based video games for Finnish interactive entertainment company Intelligames, launched Riot Entertainment in February.

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