Big publishers are abusing and monetising the games industry to hell and back. Over the past decade, big publishers have introduced more and more money-making schemes to try to nickel and dime their customers. Whether it be microtransactions, loot boxes, pre-order DLC, battle passes, or console exclusive content, publishers have innovated more in extra revenue than they have actual gameplay. This rampant monetisation is everything wrong with Marvel’s Avengers. I want to stress that this is not a review, but a criticism of the game’s monetisation and obsession with popular titles.
I’d also like to reconfirm my stance on microtransactions. Earlier this year I wrote an article detailing how microtransactions are essential for some games to function. Free to play games like Apex Legends and Fortnite would not be thriving as well as they are if they hadn’t adopted the free to play model. Similarly, smaller indie titles like Fall Guys rely on microtransactions to fund the development of constant free updates. However, I also state that we should criticise publishers that abuse them. With Marvel’s Avengers, Square Enix have been given an inch, and they’ve taken the whole mile.
Money, Money, Money
It’s no secret by now that Square Enix has heavily monetised Marvel’s Avengers. The publisher has utilised every shady tactic to turn the game into a massive money making behemoth. Extra skins have been turned into timed exclusives with certain Internet providers, and Spider-Man is a PS4 exclusive. It’s only speculation, but it feels like these skins aren’t for customers, but so Square Enix can take a nice fat cheque from Verizon and Virgin Media. It’s content to make money for the publisher, not for fan enjoyment or to improve the game.
Then there’s the in-game monetisation. Never in my life have I seen a more manipulative, confusing, and greedy system. On top of regular microtransactions, there’s a constantly rotating store to put a time pressure on people. Each new hero introduced after launch will come with a $10 battle pass. These battle passes will give you your credits back, but only if you complete them within a certain timeframe. Luckily, if you don’t have the time, Square Enix are also selling level skips to get through them faster.
Remember instruction booklets? For those that can’t, they were big thick booklets you’d find in your game cases that gave you an outline of the controls before you started playing a game. However, gone are the days of instruction booklets. Instead, they’ve been replaced by lengthy blog posts detailing how you can buy things in the game you’ve already bought. When you need a spreadsheet just to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck, something somewhere has gone horribly wrong.
Every Game The Same
When big publishers aren’t abusing microtransactions, they’re finding alternative ways to make their games the same as other successful games. Previews of Marvel’s Avengers haven’t been great, with many labelling the game a poor man’s Destiny. With these previews, we see another massive problem in the games industry. If one developer does something popular, you can bet your house on it that others will scramble to pump out their versions of the same game. Every big publisher out there tries to take a slice of the market until the genre is then overly saturated. Another popular concept comes along, rinse and repeat.
Call of Duty, Fornite, and Destiny all have their clones yet still maintain their huge player bases. This is because these games exist, and pulling players away from their already established worlds is a monumental task. You need something fresh and exciting to drag people away, but this doesn’t interest the big publishers. They see something massively popular and try to imitate it. When they inevitably don’t see the same sales figures, they abandon a game and sometimes close a studio.
Mediatonic is receiving tremendous amounts of praise and success over Fall Guys. They thought of something outside of the box and brought something new to a saturated genre. Everything wrong with Marvel’s Avengers results from too much corporate involvement in a creative project. Massive amounts of monetisation, stale and repetitive gameplay that’s been done before, and a hugely popular brand to capitalise on. It’ll probably sell millions, but ask yourself why Square Enix need to excessively monetise a game that’s obviously going to do well. It’s because despite making hundreds of millions, they still want more.