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Spider-Man, one of Sony's most successful movie and video game stars of recent years, is about to be pressed into service to help sell games for arch-rival Microsoft.

The software company on Thursday struck a deal with Marvel Entertainment that would put Spidey, the Incredible Hulk and some 5,000 other superheroes, villains and ordinary mortals on to Microsoft's next-generation games console, the Xbox 360.

The arrangement, which applies to massive multiplayer games where many people compete online at the same time, continues Microsoft's efforts to amass a broader slate of exclusive content for its next games console than it achieved on the first version of the Xbox.

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