The recent release of Marvel's Spider-Man on the PlayStation 4 has ignited many conversations about the video game history of the web-slinger. Gadgets 360 recently spoke to Indiagames alumni Hrishi Oberoi, Srinivasan Veeraraghavan, and Vishal Gondal to discuss the first ever mobile phone Spider-Man game made in Mumbai.
The game simply titled Spider-Man was developed by a team of four in less than a month due to licensing restrictions and almost shipped with placeholder assets and animations from the 2001 Game Boy Advance Activision title, Spider-Man: Mysterio's Menace. The alumni explained how the development cycle played out:
What we did was, we took the emulator of the GBA on the PC and cut out the sprites from the GBA game to put it into the mobile game...We didn't have time to do original sprites at the same time while coding and designing the game.
It was almost that the final version of the game had all the GBA animations inside...We did not have the final animations ready. We had got it done just two or three days before,but until then, we were working with GBA animations.
Prior to signing a contract, the team had already begun development on the game:
Even before we got the license, we started making the game...Our goal was the day we get the license, in a few weeks we should launch the game. Typically what used to happen was you get the license, you make the game, that takes three to six months and then you launch the whole thing. As we were negotiating the deal with Marvel, the game was already under production so we were ready.
The talks with Marvel began around the time of E3 2003:
At E3 itself we met the guy who represented Marvel Comics...In that meeting we said that we'd be interested in licensing Spider-Man. They didn't know who we were and they never licensed anything like this to a company outside of the US. Before this, no Spider-Man mobile game was made.
Goondal explains how he took an investor with him to ensure the comic company his team had the money for the license, even though he didn't:
I told them 'I've got my bank with me, I have access to all the money.' Obviously I was bluffing, I didn't have all the money. The goal was to convince them that we had the financial backing and we could do this.
After a number of exchanges, Marvel enforced a minimum payment upfront, which cleaned out the company bank account, according to Veeraraghavan. The team then went to a nearby temple to pray:
Vishal emptied the company bank account, around $200,000 to $300,000 to put down as a minimum guarantee...The whole company went to this temple in Chembur near the office to offer prayers because we've put all our money in, now God rescue us.
In the end, Spider-Man on mobile was a financial success for Indiagames:
We had only eight months to realise the revenue from that license. We made close to a million dollars at that point in time. It was quite possibly the biggest ever revenue we made out of any game.