GenCon – Upper Deck Entertainment Back In Black

Legendary Black Costume Trent Pitts and Ann Harkey write;

Hours after the vendor’s hall had closed last Saturday at GenCon, Upper Deck Entertainment packed a private room at the Hard Rock Café for a special announcement. The event was invitation only with an open bar, chocolate fountain and appetizers. The room was packed.

A little over half-way through the gathering Jason Brenner, Entertainment Brand Manager for Upper Deck Entertainment, grabbed everyone’s attention. Positioned in the middle of the room and surrounded by attendees, Brenner launched into announcements.

Brenner began his announcements by showing artwork for what character would be the feature of Upper Deck’s February release for its Legendary Marvel Card Game, Spider-Man. The artwork wasn’t just any Spider-man. It was the fan favorite Black-Costumed Spider-Man.

The crowd erupted.

Brenner didn’t stop though. A hero needs villains to fight, so he announced one of the Masterminds for the set, Carnage. Brenner went on to announce that the set hadn’t been named and that fans would get to name the set. The Legendary Facebook page will host a contest to allow fans to submit their suggestions for a name.


The room was at a fever pitch but Brenner wasn’t done. He teased that he had one more thing to show. He held up a third placard that read “Legendary Encounters” in green type. Below the words was the iconic image of the Alien egg from the first movie posters. In space, no one can hear you scream but screams were definitely heard in the Indianapolis Hard Rock.

Brenner jumps right into the Legendary Encounters: Alien.

“We definitely want to expand our portfolio and get a broader audience for gaming. I think with Alien it is going to. I think the reason is there is a whole other group of people who grew up with this property. Next year it’s going to be 35 years old. That’s insane,” he said.

He is confident the new set will draw in customers who aren’t gamers.

“There’s a whole lot of people out there that love movies, that love sci-fi that are maybe into gaming, maybe not and they see this entity and go, ‘What is this? I don’t know what it is but I think it should be part of my life. We started noticing those people and we tried to speak to those guys and gals and get them into our world here,” he said.

He explains how Alien fits into Legendary’s model.

“The beauty of Marvel Legendary is there are so many characters in that universe. There are hundreds of heroes, hundreds of masterminds and it fits so well, which is why we built the universe around that. With Alien, it’s more confined. It is a very rich universe but it’s not vast. I didn’t want to crowbar that theme into this game. So we modified it. We wanted to call it something different so people know it’s legendary so it seems familiar but it’s going to be a little different,” he said.

Fans should expect some changes in gameplay.

“We definitely had to modify the engine and it’s going to be different. Alien is going to be a full co-op game. The theme of those movies are that everybody is working together. Everybody is trying to survive and not get killed and that is what this game is going to make you feel like. If you don’t work together, you’re not going to win. Along the way, there certainly could be something like part of the group is no longer working with us, they’re working against us. If you know the movies you know what I’m talking about: Face Huggers.”

Upper Deck will include some familiar characters in the new set.

“If I were to ask someone on the street, ‘Who is an Alien mastermind?’ most of them would say ‘Alien Queen. We thought the same thing. Then we thought, ‘Is she a mastermind or is she just an animal who has these animalistic instincts and just wants to survive by destroying everything in her path?’ That isn’t really a mastermind mechanic. That’s why we have the modified engine, number one. The Alien Queen will be a part of this set obviously. If we didn’t put the Alien queen in the Alien Legendary game it would be like going to see Journey and not hearing ‘Don’t Stop Believing’,” he said.

The possibility of a Predator cross-over isn’t off the table yet.

“We have thought about that. Stay tuned.”

Switching gears to the Marvel side of Legendary and its release schedule, “We are well into June of next year,” he said.

UDE has a Fantastic Four expansion scheduled for release and announced the Spider-man themed expansion the previous evening. The company has already released one expansion for Marvel Legendary, Dark City, and did so ahead of schedule.

Brenner praises his team for the expansion schedule. “These guys are working hard to get out ahead of the game. When we say we are going to hit a date, people can count on it. We are already working on next June’s set. I am blown away by that,” he said.

“I am confident when I say we are putting out 3 sets a year. It is going to be June, October, and February. I couldn’t be happier.”

Marvel’s purchase by Disney leads down an interesting lane. Will we ever see a Disney Legendary?

“That would be amazing. I have never, honest to god, have never heard so many people come up to me and say, ‘I love this game but do you know who else loves this game? My wife. My girlfriend. My daughter.’ It just blows me away, because when you look at Marvel it might be a little more guy centered, a little more focused towards a male audience. If we were able to use this engine and put, just for the sake of argument, not saying anything, but like Disney Princesses or something in there and make it more of a lighter, fun game with a mastermind like Maleficent or something. We would love to do a ton of stuff and if there is an audience for it, we would love to do it. I’m not opposed to do it, let’s just put it that way,” he said.

While Versus is no longer available in stores, the fans still have love for the game.

“Having been a part of that VS era, I know these fans are passionate. I get it. We all get it. From the top of the food chain at Upper Deck down the line, we all get it. Luckily, we are never moving away from Marvel to my knowledge and we want to do everything we can to make everyone who is a Marvel fan, a gaming fan, an Upper Deck fan happy. All I can say is there is a lot of options on the table and nothing happens overnight,” he said.

Brenner’s experience with the Organized Play aspect of VS and other UDE products has benefitted Marvel Legendary.

“I worked with a team in Upper Deck for many years on OP, learned a lot from those guys, who are still in this industry. I’m bringing that knowledge to the table now to our organized play program that we are putting out later this year. It kicked off right here at GenCon. We gave away $10,000 this weekend in tournaments. It’s incredible,” he said.


About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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