Game Over: Marvel Going Fully Day and Date Digital

In an exclusive announcement over at Gizmodo, Marvel has announced that they’re going to be releasing (almost) all of their comic book titles digitally the same day they’re available on paper in comic shops.

While DC did all their titles in one go, Marvel will be staggering its digital conversion by title, expecting to have everything up to date by March of 2012. Not included in the strategy are third party licensed books, like Stephen King’s The Stand, or books from their MAX imprint. But other than that?

Gentlemen, start your tablets.

The article only states that the comics will be available the Marvel app, and no other details about what, where, and when.

So this is what a lot of digital fans have been waiting for, and simultaneously what a lot of retail shops have been fearing. But it would appear that the publishers of Image, Dark Horse, DC, and now Marvel have crunched the numbers, and protection of the direct market has given way to desire for more revenue. The steadily dwindling sales numbers on physical copies no doubt had something to do with these decisions, and the coming months and years will no doubt be very interesting indeed.

Fans of the massive Marvel movie hits didn’t flock to comic shops, so perhaps they’re hoping that Marvel’s The Avengers will at least drive them to their computers. We shall see. Or maybe not, since digital sales numbers are guarded with a secrecy not unlike the true age of Hollywood starlets.

Disclosure: iFanboy is owned by Graphicly, and Marvel Comics are available on Graphicly.


  1. ‘Nuff Said

  2. It’ll be nice to start reading Marvel Comics again

  3. Now hopefully Marvel will start doing a wait one 1 month/$1 off price drop

    • Agreed, think they’ll have a hard time at a $3.99 price point for digital.

    • Doesn’t mean they’re not going to try it. I’d be surprised if they didn’t.

    • completely agree. I really need to start being more patient and wait a month to buy my DC comics it would save me quite a bit of money. It’s just so dang hard when they are staring you in the face screaming BUY ME!

    • I’m a complete digital convert and I am waiting the extra month for the DC price reduction. Day and Date doesn’t really matter to me, I’d prefer to pay less and buy more comics!

    • patience pays!! @thescimitar pay less?buy more? brilliant!!!!

    • I’d love to know what the breakeven point is on digital. Am I correct in guessing that they don’t need to sell many copies via digital before they start earning a profit? If so, $3.99 won’t be a big deal, IMO. There will ALWAYS be folks willing to pay that.

    • I think Josh is right though. It’s basic sales… you don’t drop your pants(price) right away unless people overwhelmingly object. That being said, $3.99 for digital sounds high when you compare it to other forms of entertainment.

  4. I’ve been waiting for this for a while, but I’m nervous that this will cause a glut of 3.99 titles on services like comixology and graphicly. I’ve been buying Ultimate Spider-Man digitally, but kind of hate myself every time I click that button and drop 3.99 for 20 digital pages.

  5. Bout time. DC really killed marvel on this.
    Great to hear this announced but not really a surprise by any means, as marvel seems to be releasing a few books day and date just about every week already. The Avengers and FF titles are really the only major marvel books not day and date at this point, actually.

  6. This is great news, now I never have to set foot in a comic shop again! Also, can’t wait to be able to buy all of the 1000 tie ins for the next big crossover day and date!!

  7. Its about time, now only Marvel will drop their friggin’ prices!! i gett really pissed off whenever i see a 3.99 digital comic book. It’s why i’ve been boycotting the majority of Marvel’s digital releases lately

  8. The slow rollout strategy seems dopey to me, but oh well. By next April, I will be buying almost no more paper other than collected editions, and that’s awesome.

  9. So what’s next? digital only? and what are the implications of that?

    • wait i should clarify. digital only series, not all comics just digital.

    • I think there already are a couple of digital only things at Marvel, but they’re smaller one shots and the like that less people are interested in.

      It’ll be interesting if they do something big in digital only, but that’s won’t be for a while.

  10. This is the sort of thing that could push me to getting an iPad. I can easily see getting floppies digitally and continuing to get my trades and any omnibuses (omnubi?) from the local comics shop.

  11. Keeping it at $3.99? Yea no thanks.

  12. Not sure why people think $3.99 is reasonable for a printed copy but too expensive for digital. It’s not as if those $3.99 ASMs are going to be worth anything in 20 years anyway.

    • $3.99 isn’t reasonable for printed copies either, and asking that much for digital is just fucking ridiculous.

    • i’d say it’s because you don’t really own digital comics more as rent them.

      If somehow all of marvel’s servers were to crash (probably extremely unlikely) and erase everything, you would have no comics to read.

    • I think $3.99 is too much for paper. I will begrudgingly pay it if I think a title is good enough. But I think even $2.99 is too much for digital.

    • UM … maybe because when I do pay that much for a paper copy, I actually OWN a tangible object … some will say the same is true of hard copies, but digital copies have no intrinsic or exchange value once you’ve bought them.

    • i don’t think it’s reasonable for either. but most people who buy avengers will still buy it at 5 bucks. $3.99 digital is absurd when you think about the fact you could buy a Whole HD episode of Mad Men or Break bad $2.99. where is the better value for consumers? 48 min episode or 22 page comic?

    • There is a drop dead point though. There are books that I turn my nose up at precisely because of the price point. I only read the books that I REALLY enjoy. Or I’ll come back to something a year later and buy a run cheap on Ebay … or at any of a number of online sellers.

    • The problem I have with the 3.99 digital price is that when comics started going to 3.99 we were told one of the reasons was printing costs so if that cost is removed the price should be able to be lower (I know there might be added server or hosting costs but no publisher is saying that there is). Also with being able to get DC comics for 1.99 a month late and many other publishers offering many books for .99 a 3.99 price from Marvel seems steep.

    • Printing (and shipping) costs are still the prime reason…its all getting more expensive, but now the digital product is an extra subsidy to support the print runs and increase the profit margins from razor thin, to kinda healthy as the overall industry declines. Print runs make no financial sense for monthly comics, but so much of the fanbase demands it still, there is no choice. The comics industry would be much healthier, and creators would make a better living if they didn’t have to “buy a brand new car” every month to get a print run produced and shipped.

      You really can’t believe any corporation’s excuses for raising prices, nor should you believe they have any intention of lowering them again. We’re closer to regular $5 Marvel print comics than we are $3 ones.

    • I never pay cover price for my comics. So 3.99 for Digital is crazy.

  13. Yeah, the price point is the hurdle if you want to grab that market. If you have a good shop, chances are you’re getting a discount on your books so digital would cost you more. Depending on how deep the discount is, and whether or not you’re willing to wait a month, even dropping it later may not make sense. I’m not ready to go completely digital, though I may pick up a back issue here and there to catch up with a series.

  14. Marvel really needs to pull the “drop prices after 4 weeks” move. As of now, it’s completely unclear when the digital price of marvel’s books will go down to 1.99.
    I have to imagine it’s a man-hour issue. Going full-line day and date requires quite a few new employees and/or shifting job descriptions. I’d wager that the recent staff layoffs at marvel have something to do with this momentum shift. Still, this is a good milestone for digital. I think that the digital marketplace will HAVE to ultimately force marvel to smaller price points, but that won’t necessarily happen immediately. Once the company is settled into digital releases and slightly less reliance on the sales of increasingly expensive printing… the prices really SHOULD come down.

    • Going same day digital doesn’t necessarily require ANY extra people at Marvel, I’ve been under the impression Comixology did the lion share of converting/formatting the digital books released on their platform.

  15. I don’t understand why digital comics are ever as expensive as the paper copies. My understanding is that at least part of the price tag on a monthly covers production and printing costs and shipping costs.

    • I’m under the assumption that you need people to build it so it can be viewed in the app, plus code it for guided views and the like. you may also be paying for server space as they are stored on someones server, and the more downloads u get, the more expensive it gets.

    • When going through Apple, Apple takes 30% of every sale. We don’t know number but presumably all of the assorted vendors take a cut too.

      Presumably if digital sales grow enough they’ll make enough money to lower prices, but right now they a) need to keep print retailers happy and b) it looks like plenty of people are buying the books at full price so why drop the prices?

    • This comes up in every digital comics thread, but I think the current pricing structure is due to two things:

      -salving the direct market (many retailers are –justifiably — reactionary to anything digital, so the publishers are treading lightly)
      -the low sales volume of digital comics.

      If digital sales pickup, publishers will be able to lower prices without hurting the bottom line. In fact, at a certain point, lower prices probably turn into higher sales, as consumers jump at the lower price point.

      $3.99 sucks, but we’re in the early days of digital. Early adopters always pay more.

    • The pricing is 100% about low sales volume in both digital and paper. A very small number of people finance this entire industry.

    • @Josh

      While I like to think comics will rebound, at what point do you think this all becomes something like a patronage system where fans are literally paying for the production of these books and the salaries of the creators? Are we already there?

      I’d imagine for some indies it’s even worse than that. It was kind of eye-opening to hear Fraction in the new Word Balloon tell us that he’s never gotten paid to make Casanova.

    • We’re there.

    • Apparently Mark Millar says the pay isn’t that good when it comes to digital sales.

      Considering Kick-Ass is one of the highest selling online comic right now that must be saying something.

  16. Ha! $4 for a digital comics?

  17. “Fans of the massive Marvel movie hits didn’t flock to comic shops”

    I know it’s been talked about endlessly, but I don’t understand why this is. Movies drive up the sales of books like Twilight and LOTR, The Notebook and Forrest Gump. It drove up the sales of Watchmen. Why oh why can’t comics grow?!

    • availability. Ask an average theatre goer where they can go buy the Avengers books, not many will be able to tell you a comic book shop, let alone know the address of that shop, unlike the massive book store chains like Chapters, and whatever you guys have in the states.

    • One reason is because they are stuck in the ghetto of comics shops. Another is that there is still a stigma attached to reading comics. Most people still think that they are just for kids. And perhaps most importantly, they lack the time-entertained vs. money-spent value of a novel. Even taking plenty of time to enjoy a comic I’m done in under 30 minutes. For roughly twice that price I can be entertained for the better part of a week by a novel.

      Disclaimer: I’m not saying that people in the industry shouldn’t get paid fairly, or that the work that goes into them is less valuable, just that novels are a more economical form of entertainment than comics.

    • I would also add that you go see the Twilight movie – and then hop into any local book store or amazon. You can buy any installment for around 10 bucks or a whole hardcover box set for like 60-80.

      And that’s your ENTIRE twilight investment. The whole story – all packed up neatly.

      Comic books tend to work as soap operas, people need to know jumping on points, are bogged down in history, same old problems as always. TPB’s help.. and in my mind are somewhat analogous to selling seasons of a show on DVD. Though still aren’t as often marketed as accessibly as even that.

      All that being said I’m eager to make a slow move into a mix of floppy / trade / digital. It makes me want an ipad pretty bad!

  18. I doubt that if everyone went to digital for current single issues there would be any more comic shops – at least not as they exist today. Think about it. Say all comic companies ceased hard copy production of single issues. Barnes & Noble, Amazon… they can or have the ability to sell any trade or omnibus right now. I have a better chance of finding exactly what I want from them than traveling to different shops. Other than single issues, what do comic shops truly have that people would buy? Statues won’t pay the rent. Card/role playing games have an even more narrow niche, right? Back issues? Okay, but their issue numbers would end at the point where everything went digital. What you wind up with is a comic-version of the used book store, or, if prices for older issues remain high, the antique store. Not the way I’d like to see my shop become, but with this announcement, it’s perfectly obvious that it will happen eventually. Call me old fashioned, but I can’t see myself reading comics regularly off an ipad. Just me, but I like seeing an entire page or double page spread laid out in front of me. Those that like digital, go for it.

    But you know, regardless of what happens, bear this in mind: If and when singles go away, and we’re all reading digital comics, at least we’ll still be reading COMICS.

  19. So happy about this. There are actually a lot of comics that I still want in paper format because I do like collecting them. I actually told my comic shop what my digital plans are and they’ll still get a lot of business from me. But it will be nice to get titles like Hulk (that I want to read, but not devote living space towards) digitally.

    • The latest issue of Incredible Hulk (#1 by Aaron) is available digitally day and date. I’m still waiting for Parker’s Hulk to be available. According to this news, that will be soon.

  20. It’s nice to see some real, forward progress on this front. I hope they keep moving forward. I agree that loss of ownership + same price as print is an issue. Kind of like Anson17 is saying. You blow through an issue and think, “how much did I pay for that?” I’m hoping for a more trade-comparable price at some point. I waited a month to pick up JLA and Animal Man and I still felt like it wasn’t a good value even though, at least with Animal Man, I felt like I was enjoying the story. But it’s too much $ for too little story. I became a trade-waiter partly to save money, but now it seems like it’s just how I enjoy the stories. Hopefully the trade paperback crowd will figure in to their price structure at some point.

  21. “…now Marvel have crunched the numbers, and protection of the direct market has given way to desire for more revenue.”

    It’s not Marvels responsibility to protect the direct market. Nor do I believe that it was ever their intent. Their responsibility is to maintain their existence and profitability. The best way for them to do that is to maintain their customer base by providing a quality product, at a reasonable price, in the manor that best meets the needs of the customer.

    I fully support small businesses…when the relationship is mutually beneficial. The closest ‘local’ comic shop is a two hour drive for me. There is no benefit for me in making that drive to purchase comics or to pay extra and wait a few days on a delivery service.

    • Totally agree. I honestly don’t enjoy going into my local shop. It’s a very elitist atmosphere where the people seem annoyed that they have to get up to take your money. Being a small business doesn’t make you better. Amazon has better customer service and selection than at least 75% of the comic shops I’ve ever been in, so why should I support the brick and mortar stores? Now, I’ve been in some awesome, AWESOME shops, and I would have a totally different attitude if I could get to one without driving for hours at a time. But blaming the publishers for the demise of the specialty shops just doesn’t work. Its a two-way street.

    • JMO, but I think it is a false dichotomy. We’re talking about two different markets/audiences (with some overlap, granted). I would bet a latte at Starbucks that Marvel will see no drop in hard copy revenue from this move.

  22. This announcement, while welcome, makes me believe that DCs push to digital was very successful. Anyone know where we can see numbers on those sales? I haven’t found any.

    • They have not been released publicly.

    • At comic-con last year, bear in mind this was before DCs big Digital Push, Digital sales were less than 1% of overall sales. I imagine that number has gone up significantly since DCs big push. And it will only continue to increase once Marvel’s completely day and date digital, and I have to say, the whole thing does kind of feel like a stab in the back to comic shops, as neither of those companies would have been afloat through the 90s without the direct market. However the idea for individual portals for Comic Shops is a great idea that DC has suggested, allowing comic shops to still make profit from digital sales. If/When digital is the theorhetical powerhouse that everyone thinks it will be, I would urge everyone to make your digital purchases from a Local Shop if at all feasible.

  23. Wake me up when they cost 99 cents or maybe $1.50. I guess what happened to the music industry didn’t register with comic book companies. Also I hate to say it, but if comic shops can’t learn to adapt that’s their problem not Marvel or DCs.

    • I agree with you on the cost. I’ve been waiting on my DC purchases for a month to get the buck off. But I don’t think it’s fair to compare digital comics to digital music. Back in the day before we had mp3s, CDs cost around $12, and if you got 12 songs, that was around $1/song. The price point hasn’t changed much at all for music, just how we buy it.

    • RE: comic shops … I agree completely … obviously don’t know for certain, but I would bet that shops like Lone Star Comics or TFAW who have web storefronts to supplement their brick & mortar shops AND who carry a decent selection of manga and OGNs probably do much better than the brick & mortar LCS that is trying to get by on local pull lists and Wednesday sales (like at least ONE shop that I’ve seen in Denver … doesn’t even have a website).

  24. There is one way Marvel beats DC digitally: availability. You can download Marvel books morning of, not have to wait till 2:00 like DC. The price flexibility would be nice though.

    • Totally agree. I love being able to wake up on Wednesday morning, roll out of bed and grab the new Chew or Severed and read it. I wish DC would stop this waiting until 2pm idea. I understand it, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying. I think if Marvel is releasing morning of, DC will come around with time.

  25. I wonder if it’s a coincidence that the next Ipad is rumoured to be coming out in March just in time for Marvel being (mostly) fully day and date?

    • Likely yes, it is a coincidence, for a number of reasons:
      Apart from increased screen resolution, there is very little a new iPad could offer that isn’t offered by the current model, which is more than adequate for digital comics.
      The Kindle Fire, which will be a much more affordable option, is available later this month. If Marvel wanted to time their move to coincide with a new, related product, that would make a lot more sense than timing it with a refresh of an existing product.
      The iPad isn’t so much “rumored” to have a refresh in March as it’s “expected” to have a refresh in March because that’s when the last two announcements were made. As we saw with this year’s iPhone announced, which was expected in June but came in October, Apple isn’t bound by the expectations of outside parties, and it seems unlikely that they have firm date for a new launch this far out, and less likely that they would be sharing those details with third parties.
      The one thing I could envision that would affect the timing of the rollout involving Apple is a change in the service model/pricing structure, but that wouldn’t require new hardware, and wouldn’t be consistent with a gradual roll out. If some, single event were going to make it advantageous to go digital, likely they would “flip the switch” like DC did, rather than slowly dole out titles up until that point.

  26. very excited for this. With this i’ll be 100% digital. I think now i’m at the point where if the book isn’t available digitally i probably will skip it.

    I’d love to see a situation where some of the well recieved but poor selling books like Thor the Mighty Avenger, She Hulks etc get a nice subsidy and extra lease on life with digital. Maybe even see them go digital exclusive if they can’t support a print run. Lots of options and opportunities. The future of comics is looking good!

    now about those pricepoints….

    • It’s insane to think that comics that couldn’t support a print run would become digital exclusive. You want that AND you want a lower pricepoint? Insane. Madness. This is digital utopianism. How do you expect the creators to be paid?

    • golly gee whiz i dunno, if you eliminate the most costly piece of monthly overhead from the entire process, maybe a book that has only a small handful of regular readers can actually become profitable.

      have you any idea what a print run costs? It would blow your mind.

  27. I hope Marvel and DC start releasing exact digital sales figures soon. Until they do, so much of all our pontificating is just speculating. The fact that they have not already disclosed digital sales figures suggests that they are very low. (Actually, the fact that it took Marvel and DC so long to go same-day digital also suggests that there really isn’t THAT much money in this, despite the echo chamber of the comics internet hyping digital up all the time.) I mean, a few weeks ago Marvel released a glowing statement saying that the new Ultimate Spidey #1 broke their digital sales records . . . but they didn’t say what that record was. Very suspect, but I guess we can all optimistically HOPE that digital brings in some of those mythical creatures known as “new readers”.

  28. goodbye long boxes!
    oh and Joe Q, if your listening, feel free to make your Omnibi, and TP’s available digitally too(for a fraction of the price)

    • Right … why would they do that when it represents a significant source of residual revenue? I could see omnibi and tpbs available … but they’ll be priced so that Marvel continues to make money on them.

    • Hey, I got the Infinity Gauntlet (6 issues) for 0.99 cents each digitally, where the trade sells for $15.99 on Amazon.
      A guy can dream….

    • Well, technically, that is “a fraction of the price”. My only point was if they don’t think they’ll earn a profit at a certain price point, they won’t sell it there. 😉

  29. Everyone of these same day digital threads always has a) the guy that worries about @comixology going out of business (CEO of Comixology stressed that it’s not an issue; they are doing well, and if they were ever remotely in trouble someone would swoop in, and buy them out, b) the guy who says wake me when the comics are 99 cents with no basis other than to say he wants things to be cheaper.

    Personally, this is great news. I’ve picked up all my DC, and Image books through the comixology app except for American Vampire, which isn’t yet available same day digital. I’ve been inclined to drop any Marvel book not released digitally like the Avengers (entire line), Daredevil, and Punisher, but haven’t taken that drastic step yet.

    I’m glad this is coming sooner rather than later.

    The only thing I have to deal with now is my guilt in no longer going to Midtown Comics; a lot of cool people over there, and you can always drum up a chat if you’re looking for one.

  30. Saw this coming. And I’m happy it is. I’m done with shops. I want the ease of the iPad. Since the New 52 I’ve actually increased my monthly purchases. I only hope that Marvel does the discounted price for the previous month’s issues like DC is doing. 3.99 is a bit high, but if the price drops in a month, I can handle it. People hoping for 99 cent books are dreaming. There’s still overhead to digital publishing. The publishers cut out print expenses, but add other costs. Sure, they could probably lower prices and make the same percentage of profit, but if they keep prices are parity and sell enough, then the digital profit margin is higher. The one thing that is fantastic about digital is the flexibility of pricing. Sales and discounts down the road help bring new sales. Try to get a discount on last month’s book at an LCS.

  31. Game over, man. GAME OVER!

  32. I would like everybody to start waiting a month for their comics. Then “one month later” would become the actual continuity and booster gold would be the only one aware of it.

    • Perfect. I was trying to figure out how to time-shift my iFanboy reading to coincide with a one month shift. 🙂

      In the end, though, I’ll probably wait for complete storylines, so unless Booster wants to show up at my door with trade paperbacks from the future, I will probably always be a little behind.

  33. so… I subscribed to the Unlimited for $50 a year a few months back. Can I read them same day as release with an Unlimited account? or was it just a money grab for Marvel?

  34. Good move.
    I like better the term “same day digital”

  35. As a MDCU subscriber, I’m hoping that Marvel is finally going to allow subscribers to view their books through their existing app or another app on ALL devices. It is a tragedy that they only recently released an android app, that is a fast growing segment of the tablet and phone market and they were way behind in only supporting iOS.

    I’ve purchased quite a few DC and other books through comixology during their weekly $0.99/issue sales, I hope Marvel does the same.

  36. I see two sides here: Those that are happy for the accessibility of ALL digital books, and those that are worried about the future. What happens, happens. Reading these comments, I’m actually starting to understand – and appreciate – the allure of digital in terms of new issues month-to-month (ease of acquisition, storing on an electronic device than taking up closet space). Thanks everyone for sharing these perspectives. I’ve got something to think about now.

    My only question (I hope I’m not creating a random tangent) is how all those who are pro-digital feel about back issues. Sure, Marvel has a subscription to thousands of back issues, but are these individuals interested in subscribing, going to shops to find them, or are even that into reading old stuff? Probably 50-50, right?

    And in response to those wondering if this may attract new readers, why not? It has worked for so many other previously published magazines who have gone the way of digital. The comic companies just need to spend a little money in advertising to get people to click on the link.

    • I agree with the allure points you mentioned totally.

      Honestly in my perfect world .. I’d just like to see dirt cheap digital back issues of older books. Similar to the comixology 99c marvel mondays – but expand upon that. Sell me collections so I can get EVERY damn book in a titles run for dirt cheap if I want to. It’s something I’m never going to go hunting for in stores for back issues dealing with missing titles – prices – storage.

      But I can see dropping 10 bucks now and again on a lark to read a couple years of 80’s spider man or something similar.

      As for recent back issues… I’d like to see them go ‘cheaper’ say… $1 after they’ve been out for 3-6 months say? I’d be far more likely to ‘catch up’ on a title I’m interested in that way and start buying it regularly on release date.

  37. Excelsior!

  38. Yes. Very good news.

  39. *sigh* Sorry buddies at the shop. I’ll still come by to say hi. 🙁

  40. Good timing with the Kindle Fire getting released in a week and a half too!

  41. Marvel goes day & date digital? Meh….

  42. Digital comics, at leat the ones I’ve been reading, really don’t have advertising unlike their print brethren. I wonder if that’s gonna change?

  43. I’m not sure why the title of this article is “Game Over”. That seems in poor taste, like it’s along the lines of “Hahaha, comic shops! Now you have to go out of business! Whee!”

  44. So does this mean that Bendis thinks its ok to “fuck over” comic stores now?

    • Wait, you’re telling me Bendis isn’t in charge of how marvel distributes their comics!!!?(sarcasm) All i was saying was when dc announced they would be going day and date digitally Bendis tweeted something like it would be “fucking over comic stores” and i made a joke about what he said.

  45. $3.99 for digital? What would i paid that? I have a prefectly good local comic book store that i hate going to

  46. The only reason I see a 3.99 price point is because of the print industry. Action Comics 2 was 3.99 when it was first released and now is 2.99. It’s only a matter of time when they see that 1.99 is going to be the ultimate best price point for everything digital and it will bring in more readers willing to risk a new title.

    I also am almost completely digital with my comics now except for Iron Man which I have been collecting in floppies since I was 8. No more crazy long boxes I never see and I don’t have to worry about rushing to my shop worried my book will sell out.

    Only thing I wish Marvel or DC could do is offer subscription prices. $22.00 for twelve issues is their going price now, why can’t they offer that through digital?