Disney Unveils Combat Game on Facebook, Based on Marvel Superheroes

Disney’s social games unit, Playdom, has a dozen game releases planned for this year, several of which will finally leverage Disney’s big brand names.

Here’s the first — Marvel: Avengers Alliance.

The combat role-playing game on Facebook leverages some of the biggest names in superheroes, including Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Wolverine and many more. It will go live by the end of March.

In the game, players must add heroes to the Avengers team and then train them to unlock specific abilities and attacks. Players will also be challenged to face off against other friends who are playing the game.

But as with other social games, the battles are asynchronous, meaning that they do not occur at the same time, but rather occur on a turn-by-turn basis.

The game takes place in a “galaxy-wide disaster, known as the Pulse,” which makes Manhattan vulnerable to an attack. The players are agents on a peace-keeping mission to keep New York safe from the villains.

The game, built by Playdom, is the first to incorporate a Disney brand since the company was acquired for $563.2 million, plus a $200 million earn-out, more than a year ago.

The brand will conceivably help to lift Playdom’s position on Facebook, but also may indicate that the kinks are starting to be worked out, post-merger, between Playdom, which is based in Palo Alto, and its parent company 350 miles away.

Currently, Playdom ranks as the 15th-largest app developer on Facebook, with 15.3 million monthly active users. Zynga and Electronic Arts are at the top of the list, with 221 million and 50.8 million users, respectively.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google