With millions of players spanning from casual gaming fans to hardcore comic book fanatics, "Marvel: Avengers Alliance" has been a huge success. And it's about to get even bigger, as MTV News can exclusively announce (concurrent with Marvel's SXSW panel) that the game will weave into the upcoming movie "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," and introduce the "Guardians of the Galaxy".
Behind the move? Marvel's Vice President of Games Production TQ Jefferson, who oversees not just "Avengers Alliance" on Facebook and mobile platforms, but also coordination with the rest of Marvel's social games. Like the comics and movies, the games all take place in their own universe.
"We bring familiar elements and characters from the movies and the comic books, and use them in a unique way that all players can get behind," Jefferson told us over e-mail, "Regardless of their level of Marvel knowledge. It's a really huge, unique, evolving world, and it's growing all the time."
This isn't the first time "Avengers Alliance" has worked in film elements. Previous "Spec Ops" missions have included stories that lined up with Marvel's yearly comic book events, and others that tied into the movies.
Things have gotten even bigger in the "season two" as "Avengers Alliance" added more dimensions and worlds... Allowing for the introduction of the "Winter Soldier" storyline, as well as the Guardians characters coming up later this year.
"Alex Irvine, the writer for MAA, does a great job of pulling the essence of each of these storylines into the game and tuning them to the game's universe," Jefferson continued. "We also have access to the theatrical and publishing teams at Marvel. Everyone works closely together to bring out the best story in the game and make the characters and interactions come to life."
The "Winter Soldier" missions, like the rest of "Avengers Alliance" will "run parallel" to the film, but the story will take its own path when it launches on Facebook in March.
"Players are going to get a chance to face Cap's enemies in a way that is unique to games," Jefferson said. "The missions features a great cast of characters longtime comic fans will know, and movie fans may just be getting introduced to like Captain America and Black Widow, or Viper and Baron Strucker. Each plays their role in The Winter Soldier's past and how he's being used in the present."
Meanwhile, though there may be a "Guardians of the Galaxy" event to tie into the upcoming movie, the characters will be introduced one at a time into the game... Rather than as a team.
"While we can't talk too much about the story of how the Guardians fit into the game's overall narrative, we'll get a chance to get to focus on the whole team in some upcoming content," Jefferson noted. "With that focus dedicated to the team the hope is that it will all integrate really well. We're really excited about expanding MAA into the cosmic Marvel Universe."
Beyond opening up the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe as a storytelling tool, on a more practical level players can look forward to using the Guardians to kick a whole lot of butt.
"You've got Groot, who is a massive tree and is very physical and monstrous like The Hulk," Jefferson said. "Rocket is going to pack a lot of heat with the array of guns he has available. You've got Gamora, an assassin and the deadliest woman in the known universe. Drax has a couple of big knives and is just as dangerous as Gamora. Then you have Star-Lord, the swashbuckler, who plays the lead role on the team. He'll have an array of abilities, he's pretty versatile."
With the additional characters, and the rapidly expanding universe, you know what time it is next? Crossover time. Or at least, not yet... Jefferson differed on announcing anything about a crossover at this time, though he did add that Marvel isn't ignoring the possibility of Easter Eggs or teases across different games.
"Taskmaster, who was announced as an upcoming playable character for MAA at the SXSW panel, was a major villain in a pair of our mobile games that tie into the MGU continuity," Jefferson added. "In MAA, when you recruit him, he makes reference to this and how much disdain he has for S.H.I.E.L.D. for putting an end to the nice setup he had in that game. After all, he's all about the money."
"Marvel: Avengers Alliance" is available for free on Facebook right now, or to download on all mobile platforms. The "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" themed mission will be playable this month. Check out some more art, below: