Today, Microsoft announced that it has signed an exclusive deal with comics maker Marvel Enterprises, creator of such well-known comic book characters as Spider-Man, the Hulk, and the X-Men. Under terms of the deal, Microsoft will develop massively multiplayer online (MMO) games for the Xbox 360 video game system that take place in the Marvel universe and utilize Marvel characters. The first game is expected in 2008.

"Online gaming is reaching a point of acceptance," said Microsoft corporate vice president Peter Moore. "We will use as many of the Marvel characters as we can \[in the games\]. Marvel fans will finally have the ability to create choices with their favorite Super Heroes, villains and creatures in unbelievable detail--all with the power of Marvel's incredible vision and the Xbox platform."

The deal represents the first known attempt at an MMO game on a video game console, though such games are fairly common on PCs, with over 2 million gamers participating in such games worldwide. Microsoft says the incredible processor power and connectivity features of the Xbox 360 make this sort of game possible on a console for the first time.