Marvel’s Avengers still exists. The fact that I have to start by reminding people that it’s still a game is really all that needs to be said. It hasn’t had the best lifespan as a live-service game. It probably hasn’t had the best lifespan of a non-live service game either. The game launched full of bugs and without meaningful endgame content. The team at Crystal Dynamics had to spend so much time fixing bugs that every piece of content they had planned was significantly delayed. People left in droves. It was rough. But underneath the lack of things to do and the cosmetics that are mostly just reskins, the core gameplay was and continues to be phenomenal. Each hero is incredibly fun to play as, they all feel great and they all feel different. So the question is, can the game turn itself around so people have a reason to experience that great combat? Can Avengers be avenged?
The short answer is yes, absolutely. The long answer is that, it depends on how hard they work and may even require them changing their current model. They’re already heading in the right direction for a comeback, or at least it appears that they are. They now have a roadmap of content for the rest of the year which includes events, new story, new missions, difficult endgame content, a gear rework and it culminates in the first big expansion which will take place in Wakanda and introduce a new biome, Black Panther as a playable hero, new story, new endgame content, a new villain who isn’t Taskmaster or Abomination and hopefully a new enemy faction as well. They’ve also started releasing MCU skins to purchase and on May 20th will implement a post level 50 progression system which functions like Diablo 3 paragon levels.
So reading all that, it should seem obvious that they’re on their way to redeeming the game and making a comeback. Bringing back old players and welcoming new ones. But it’s not that simple. While all of those things sound nice on paper, if the execution isn’t right then this game will not last beyond the Wakanda expansion, certainly not in it’s current form. Telling us that they’re adding new missions, and endgame missions is all well and good, but if those new missions still take place in the same three A.I.M hallways then who cares? If those endgame missions still feature us fighting the same 4 bosses then who cares? If the gear rework isn’t in depth enough and gear still isn’t satisfying to use, then who care?
So the roadmap is nice to have, but if they don’t execute everything in it with 100% precision then the game is done. The Wakanda expansion will be the make or break moment for Avengers. It will either be it’s Taken King or it will be it’s Anthem 2.0, the moment where the game either turns a corner or dies a horrible death. By the time that expansion is released, the gear must be reworked to an acceptable level for the looter genre. The mission variety must be improved. There must be more endgame content and certainly must be some sort of dungeon or raid like activity. There must be more villains from the Marvel pantheon other than Abomination, Taskmaster and some big robots. If those things aren’t in the game by the Wakanda expansion, then the game simply won’t be able to get enough players to return or convince new players to play for the investment to be worth it for Square Enix to continue funding it.
That doesn’t mean the game has to die though. There is an alternate future for Avengers to continue. Should the Wakanda expansion not be it’s Taken King, Avengers can live on by completely changing it’s model. Right now, Avengers releases all of it’s content for free. Everything minor and everything major. It’s all free. The only thing that it charges you for are the game itself, cosmetics and the battle passes for each hero but since you get the original six battle passes for free and each one rewards enough currency to buy the next one, you really never have to buy a single battle pass since they aren’t time gated. So once you buy the game, the only thing they charge for is cosmetics like skins, emotes and finishers. Every new hero and the short story campaign that they come with is completely free.
I propose, that if the Wakanda expansion fails to be the game’s turning point then they completely shift their free content model. Right now, what happens when new content drops is that fans of the game will come back to play it and then once they’re done, they put the game away until the next content drop. I think thy should lean into that and just stop giving stuff away for free. Events and QOL updates like the new post-50 XP system can remain free but things like new heroes and their campaigns should be treated as DLC. Obviously they would have to make them more substantial then they are now. The two post launch heroes released both featured 4-5 mission campaigns so they would need to increase that but if the story of them is as engrossing as the main campaign and the previous 2 hero add-ons then they’ll be worth the price. They can still charge for extra skins as well but they would have to lower the prices and get rid of the battle passes.
Basically, I think if the Wakanda expansion doesn’t revive the game in it’s current Destiny-lite form, they should restructure to be like Borderlands 3. Free events but paid DLC that adds new story and characters. People will do as they do now, come back for the DLC and then leave until the next one drops. Make the DLC substantive and worth a $15-20 price tag a piece and people will want to buy them to enjoy the new heroes, new campaigns and always amazing combat. Frankly I think every game that wants to be a live-service game would be better served with this structure. Developers need to be okay with the fact that players will end up eventually leaving their game to play something else so instead of trying to get them to play their game forever, need to make it accessible to leave and then come back when something new comes along.