Marvel’s Avengers is still pulling badly on Steam—its average concurrent player count in the past 30 days is just above 800—but the recent addition of Xbox Game Pass has given it a real boost on other platforms. This isn’t too surprising: People are generally more likely to play a free game that costs $40, after all.
But instead of the bump in goodwill you might expect, a good portion of the player community is deeply saddened. The problem is that shortly after the appearance of Game Pass, Square Enix began selling consumable XP boosters in games, priced from 100 to 500 credits. A pack of 500 credits sells for $5.
There are two main reasons why players are upset by this. First, the developers increased the grind — that is, slowed down the leveling process — in March, and second, it contradicts a promise the studio made in June 2019 that Marvel’s Avengers “would not have random loot boxes or Won’t pay to win scenarios.”
some players in steam thread, for example, dispute the characterization of XP Booster as “pay to win”, as there is no PvP element to the game: those willing to pony up for consumables proceed faster than those willing to pony up for consumables. Will increase those that aren’t, but it doesn’t really affect anyone else’s game in any way. Others express concerns that the in-game store will continue to move to a free-to-play style, and that the free consumables currently offered to players will eventually be phased out entirely.
Unhappy with the feeling that Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix have gone back on their word, it seems a little hard to argue with, especially among longtime players. “SE and CD decided long ago that new players were their priority and those of us who pre-ordered were paid beta testers,” said a Redditor named FantasticMedlar. wrote. “They can give a crap to any current player except Whale.”
“He said clearly and repeatedly that there would be no loot boxes or pay-to-win mechanics,” Motor_Structure7156 added in a separate post. “Labeling it ‘pay-to-progress-a-bit-faster’ is probably more accurate, but that doesn’t negate the lies they tell. If I’m ignorant or insidious to call a spade a spade, not a ‘ Human-tool ‘excavator interface equipment’ so be it.”
It’s not a universal setback, but it certainly appears to belong to a game that has been struggling to find an audience since its launch. Naturally, among all the complaints there are threats to leave the game outright; I suspect that most are not serious (and some even believe that it is) but still, I have to think that there is some concern that change will do more harm than good in the long run.
I don’t sympathize with player complaints, but I think perhaps people could understand videogame monetization commitments more than two years ago under very different (and far more hopeful) circumstances. Marvel’s Avengers was performing poorly, and while putting it on Game Pass would juice up the player count, it doesn’t make sense if it can’t translate into revenue growth as well. The absence of PvP means that individual player experiences don’t suffer, and the choice between the new, expanded monetization model and pulling the plug on the whole thing seems pretty easy to me.