Xbox is not allowed X-Men games until 2036, according to illegally breached Insomniac Games materials

Marvel's Wolverine claws
(Image credit: PlayStation Studios)

What you need to know

  • PlayStation studio Insomniac Games was breached in a ransomware attack, illegally spreading innumerable private documents including game plans and personal developer information. 
  • Among the leaked information were details on the X-Men license, which covers the previously announced upcoming PlayStation 5 title Marvel's Wolverine. 
  • According to the agreement between Marvel, PlayStation, and Insomniac Games, no X-Men games (not developed by Insomniac) can be announced by Marvel until Dec. 31, 2035, meaning there will not be an X-Men game on Xbox before that time. 
  • Insomniac Games has not officially commented on the breach. 

One of the worst cyberattacks in gaming history is unfolding. 

Insomniac Games, the PlayStation studio responsible for games like the Marvel's Spider-Man franchise, was hit by a ransomware attack recently, with the hackers dumping out over 1.7TB of studio files. These files include personal documents of employees, as well as Insomniac Games' plans for future titles, corporate strategy, financial information, and more. 

Part of this includes the license details for Marvel's X-Men, which Insomniac Games seems to have ironed out as part of working on the already-announced Marvel's Wolverine. According to the terms, which Windows Central has viewed, Insomniac Games is given full license to work on X-Men games through Dec. 31, 2035. Until that time, Marvel cannot announce any new X-Men games for consoles, Windows PC, or Cloud gaming services.

During this time, X-Men characters are allowed to be used in "multi family" team-up games, such as a future Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy title. X-Men characters cannot be used as a competitive advantage for Xbox, such as having Wolverine exclusively available in the Xbox version of a game. 

How does this affect Insomniac Games? 

Huge plans have leaked, but plans can (and likely will) change. (Image credit: PlayStation Studios)

Before going any further, it's important to emphasize just how awful this data breach is. Leaks suck, and they happen for a number of reasons, from timing issues where a trailer goes live early to a chatty employee sharing information with someone. This is a cut above those leaks, with massive amounts of data from Insomniac Games exposed and workers affected. 

I don't know what possible steps can or should be taken, but I hope Sony and Insomniac Games leadership are taking every possible measure for the affected employees. No one deserves to have this happen, especially when all they want is to work on games and provide some small amount of joy in the lives of others. 

As of the moment I'm writing this, neither the studio nor its parent company have issued a statement, and honestly, I'm not sure what kind of statement could possibly cover what has happened. The best thing for the companies to do is focus on protecting the people working on these games. 

From a business perspective, things are going to be quiet for at least a few months. Large portions of Marvel's Wolverine have leaked, from the plot and script to casting details, animations, gameplay footage, and so much more. Without getting in the weeds here, the game is still years away, and many things can change. I encourage people not to share any spoilers and to wait for the full official unveiling.

What does this mean for Xbox players?

Xbox is also working on an upcoming Marvel project. (Image credit: Bethesda Softworks)

Xbox console fans should understand that it's not just Wolverine heading exclusively to PlayStation 5, it's any X-Men focused games. While these games will be available on PC — either alongside the PlayStation 5 launch or more likely some time after — they, much like the Marvel's Spider-Man games, will not be on Xbox. 

This agreement also makes the announcement of Marvel's Blade from Xbox studio Arkane Lyon even more interesting. The license agreement for Blade is almost certainly different, but it's not hard to imagine that some level of similarity. While no platforms have been announced, I think it's extremely likely Marvel's Blade will be an Xbox Series X|S console exclusive, and could easily be on Xbox Game Pass at launch. 

Analysis: Lord almighty

Anything else I could possibly write feels woefully inadequate to explain how much I'm sorry that this cyber attack happened. The idea someone just wanting to make games has to worry about their private information being exposed is awful, and I truly hope anyone affected can get things together and protect their privacy as quickly and easily as possible. 

Much like with the ransomware attack on Capcom years ago, things change, but I can't pretend I haven't seen the business information that is now out there. That will shape my opinions and ideas in conscious theory and subconscious hopes or worries. I'm not going to be copying and pasting anything wholesale, but like with the terms of the X-Men agreement, the fact is there are going to be things to talk about and hopefully provide some context to. 

Moving on to the leaked information, I will emphasize that leaked gameplay, animations, art, and so on are not final. Games are complex and take forever to make, and I will under no circumstances share anything from the leaked build of Marvel's Wolverine. I encourage others to do the same. Let the team enjoy their holiday as much as they can before getting back to work in peace and quiet, please.

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.