Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, The X-Men and 4,700 other characters from the Marvel universe are part of a 10-year worldwide licensing agreement between Vivendi Universal Publishing (VU Publishing) and Marvel Enterprises, Inc. The arrangement grants VU Publishing's games division (VU Games) the right to develop and publish online massively multi-player (OLMMP) games based on Marvel's superheroes. The first OLMMP title under the new agreement is targeted for release in 2005. The comprehensive deal provides VU Games with access to the entire library of Marvel characters, as well as its worldwide fan base -- a large percentage of which comprise the same demographic as the core gaming audience. Additionally, VU Games has obtained the rights to release titles in multiple languages across all existing and future platforms enabling OLMMP game play, including PCs and console-based systems. OLMMP games, which allow thousands of players to interact online simultaneously, represent a key area of growth for the multi-billion dollar video game industry. Marvel and VU Games will share in revenues generated by subscription fees, product sales and in-game advertising. "Marvel wanted to make an aggressive move to establish a strong presence in the burgeoning online gaming arena, and this relationship with VU Games puts us right on the ground floor," Marvel COO Bill Jemas said. "Marvel is perfectly suited to massively multi-player gaming as we are a `universe' unto ourselves. Our fans like to live and breathe their favorite characters and this gives them the opportunity to do that 24 hours a day if they like. Our superheroes have been extremely successful in the video game world as evidenced by the best-selling status of our Spider-Man, X-Men and Blade franchises. By every measure, this is by far the largest and best electronic game deal in the history of Marvel." This online project marks the latest partnership between Marvel and VU Games, which is also developing next generation video games inspired by Universal Pictures' upcoming feature film THE HULK.