I don’t think it’s surprising that the Avengers game didn’t make bank. What I think is surprising is the actual margins. Something around 60% of units sold is some rough business.
For a minute here, let’s just go over the things going for this game.
- The largest IP in the last 10 years, with a multi-billion profit
- A producer (Squeenix) that understands 2nd chances
- A developer with a solid single player pedigree (Tomb Raider)
- A business model that’s been been clearly demonstrated across dozens of games, including how not do do it (BF2)
- A game design that has both great models (Destiny) and horrible models (Anthem) from which to base upon
There’s no denying that the IP itself is both a boon and a hindrance. People identify Captain America with Chris Evans. Anything that doesn’t look/sound like him is going to be weird.
The rather consistent news in this space is that Avengers as a single player game appears to be universally well taken. This seems reasonable given Crystal Dynamics’ work with Tomb Raider.
Where it doesn’t work is in the risk/reward structure of it’s online component. First was the rather impressive amount of bugs and lack of polish. Launching any game in that state, when there are quite literally dozens of viable alternatives, is a recipe to lose most of your player base. Avengers certainly has. It went from 25k users at launch, to 2.5k users after a month (these are relative numbers). That’s a 90% drop. Recent numbers put it ~500 concurrent, though this weekend’s sale (50% off) brought it up to 1,800. That is far from viable.
The question then becomes, what’s next? If Anthem, dumpster fire that it is, can still be operational nearly 2 years later, Avengers certainly has shelf life. But does it deserve a re-tooling? Does it need an overhaul, or just tweaking? Its lack of content is a challenge, no doubt. But its certainly better to stabilize before adding more stuff. The core mechanics appear sound, just that the reward spigot needs to be changed. Playing 49 floors of a game for no useful rewards, and no checkpoints, is not smart design. There’s a reason it doesn’t exist anywhere else.
Still, $30 for a decent single player superhero game is a good deal. And with the potential for a somewhat rewarding end game, that’s cool too. I’d be game to have something to replace Marvel Heroes. And there are enough success stories of games coming back from the brink (For Honor!!) that there’s some life in here yet.