If there is one thing that is getting under the skins of players nowadays, it is the idea of a game being a “Live Service.” At first, the concept sounds amazing: getting to enjoy a game that has more content coming over time. What could possibly go wrong? Well, if you look at games like Anthem or Battlefield V, you could say there are plenty of ways you can fumble the ball. Meanwhile, games that might have seen a resurgence like Rainbow Six: Siege saw a really bumpy start at the beginning and it took several months before they took off. No matter where you look, Live Service games are a gamble where if you’re not firing on all cylinders at the start, your player base might take off and leave before the game does get in a better position. This is the position where Avengers finds itself in.
It might seem hard to believe, but Avengers is only a month old. With the game coming out back on September 4, the player base for the game has seen a severe drop in reoccurring users. What started at around 28,000 players has recently plummeted down to around 2000 players at best (and under 1,000 at worst). That’s bad enough already to consider, but it is problematic for many players are feeling as though they have no reason to stick around for whatever is next due to the lack of end game content.
A map leading to nowhere
Depending on who you ask about Avengers, you will find one of two responses. On one part, you can look at Crystal Dynamics and compliment how they are taking the feedback of the community to ensure as many of the bugs and glitches plaguing the game are seeing fixes as much as possible. On the other hand, Avengers is the latest of a long list of Live Service titles that sees itself launching at a time where it feels like it did need an extra month or two before launching in the state it did back in September. There should be some credit to the developers as they are addressing these issues rather than keeping quiet and nothing see a resolution, but some would argue that taking the time to fix these problems is taking time away from adding more into the game itself.
But now we look at the biggest issue some have with the game itself: The lack of knowing what comes next. The game did see one update in the form of single-player “Mega Hives,” but outside of that… not much else.
Through a statement on Kotaku, Studio head Scot Amos did mention upcoming content coming to the game. These include new mission styles, a high-level four-player group experience, and the inclusion of upcoming heroes: Kate Bishop and Clint Barton (The Two Hawkeyes).
Amos did say he had the confidence that players from all platforms will return to the game to enjoy this new late-game content with much more coming in the following months. The issue we are facing here is how the new story content wasn’t going to arrive until late October. This would mean the game could very well go yet one more month before we see more content for Avengers.
And the biggest issue of all: Spider-Man
Not to sound like J. Jonah Jameson, but sadly if we look at the context of Avengers as a whole, Spider-Man really is a menace in all of this.
It’s bad enough to consider how a “lack of content” can affect a game. It is made even worse when you consider how in spite of what looks to be dropping numbers in players playing Avengers, there is still this focus on ensuring PlayStation owners get the first dibs on everything. These would include things like new outfits, taunts, takedowns, nameplates, and so forth. If a deal was struck to ensure Playstation got the exclusive goods, then there’s not much that can be done about it. But when you are playing favorites with a specific platform, you are running that risk of telling players on other platforms that they are playing an “incomplete version” of the game. So why should they stick around?
And the sad thing is that even when Spider-Man drops sometime in 2021, that likely will not help the player numbers because you are only dropping him off onto one set of platforms rather than all platforms. Players on the PlayStation 4 (and later PlayStation 5) will get to enjoy swinging with the webhead. But everyone else? it will seem like a content drought that someone is not addressing. And even if an additional hero were to drop at the same time as Spider-Man, then it seems like one platform gets to enjoy two heroes for the price of one. Either way, you look at it, Avengers will serve as another example alongside Destiny as to why it is probably not a good idea to have console-specific goodies if you are planning to have a live service game for all platforms.
So one could say there’s a wide combination of issues Avengers is currently facing at the moment. These kinds of games are never easy to manage, but some are looking at this game and wondering if anyone took a look at other live service titles and figure out how not to repeat those mistakes they had to face. Depending on who you ask, there is certainly a split between those who think Avengers can still salvage the poor start and grow into something bigger and those who think we are looking at this year’s Anthem.
Again, some credit does go to Crystal Dynamics for actually addressing issues while also ensuring some content that is exclusive does go to other platforms later on (except the upcoming Spider-Man). While some may be patient with how they develop the game, many others are moving onto other games. It is a shame too since (when it is working) Avengers can be fun. The problem though is that if there isn’t a robust community, you are going to be playing solo.
Hopefully, in due time, we will know what the plan for Avengers is since there are things in the works. The lack of an actual roadmap is making many question the future of the game. But with each day that fans are waiting for that content is another day they are likely going to jump ship and turn their attention elsewhere. Just as some have with many other live service games that have come before.
Thank you for reading and be sure to follow us here at Culture of Gaming for more articles covering the gaming world.