Don’t look now, but Marvel’s Avengers might just be gaming’s next big comeback story.
Here’s how it started. In the past week, I’ve pre-ordered tickets to see Spider-Man: No Way Home, started watching Marvel’s Hawkeye on Disney+, and thus have ended up with a massive hankering to play some Marvel video games. If you’re like me, you get genre cravings like this, and wouldn’t you know it – I’ve still got Marvel’s Avengers installed on my PC. I loaded up the game, and away we went.
It’s no secret that Marvel’s Avengers was a failure to launch. The game had everything going for it at first – one of the most stacked voice casts in recent memory, a team with a resume of multiple impeccable story-driven titles in Crystal Dynamics, and all the hype you could ask for with Marvel Studios’ movies being the cultural titans that they are. Despite all that, Marvel’s Avengers massively missed it’s sales expectations following tons of bad press and player reactions around its endgame gameplay and loot loops, the in-game monetization system, and its “Challenge Cards” (read: battle passes) for each hero.
Square Enix said they heard the fan’s concerns, so a few things happened.
We’re In The Endgame Now
Marvel’s Avengers came out, and fans reacted strongly. Square Enix’s President threw Crystal Dynamics straight under the bus in a letter to investors just a few weeks ago, saying that they might not have been the right studio for the job, and that the game was a disappointment.
Square Enix heard you though, you said “we don’t want this, we want a single player game” – and they listened and gave you Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. GOTG features zero microtransactions or DLC, and it doesn’t look like that’s what fans want either. The only indicator on Guardians’ success (for now) is SteamDB, which charts the game’s all-time player peak at just under 11,000 players. Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which was Eidos’ last game and peaked at 38,000 players, sold about 4 million copies. Do some rough math, and it still doesn’t look great.
So where do we go from here? Enter, King T’Challa and Xbox Game Pass.
Whatever It Takes
About three months ago, Marvel’s Avengers saw it’s biggest update to date in its (free) War for Wakanda expansion. The story DLC inexplicably added yet another absolute juggernaut in the voice acting department to the game’s already insane roster – this time in the legendary Chris Judge (AKA Kratos in 2018’s God of War) as T’Challa/Black Panther. Once again – this is free content.
A month after that, Marvel’s Avengers was added to Xbox Game Pass. The results were nearly instant, as it didn’t take long for the title to rocket up the “Most Played” charts – and it had some absolutely elite company.
Upon the writing of this blog, Marvel’s Avengers is even higher up the list, and is the 12th most played game on Xbox Game Pass right now, sharing space on the list with heavy hitters like Halo Infinite, Back 4 Blood, Minecraft, and Destiny 2. While the game is still struggling on Steam, it has seen a steady uptick in players in the last month. And PlayStation players just got their exclusive Spider-Man DLC, so there’s no doubt that people are coming back to the game to give that a spin as well. It would seem like many of the new changes and updates that Crystal Dynamics has made to the game have been well received, and there’s nowhere to go but up from here.
Just Play The Game Already
I’ve spent about 30 hours with Marvel’s Avengers, and have completed three of it’s four story-driven campaigns, which are called “Operations”. I haven’t even touched the live service portion of the game yet, because I’m just now starting the War for Wakanda expansion which promises to add about 10-15 more hours onto that number. The original “Reassemble” campaign, as well as Hawkeye and Kate Bishop’s respective side-stories, are all fantastic – and once again feature some of the best voice actors in the industry. The combat and set pieces in the game are a blast, and I can only imagine that teaming up with three buddies to experience this via co-op would be even better.
What I’m getting at here, is that everything is trending in the right direction for Marvel’s Avengers. It’s currently on sale (almost) everywhere, and is free you’ve got GamePass. Crystal Dynamics just made some pretty massive changes to the game’s gearing and loot system yesterday, and the player count seems to be moving in the right direction in response to that. If you’re looking for a superhero fix, you owe it to yourself to give it a try – and you’ve got 40 hours of fantastic story content waiting for you if you decide to pull the trigger.
Marvel’s Avengers is $9.99 at GameStop right now for PS5, PS4, and Xbox One – and it supports Xbox’s Smart Delivery, meaning if you purchase the Xbox One version, you can download the Xbox Series S/X version for free. If you’re an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, you can download the game for free right now.