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Marvel's Avengers Lost Almost 96% Of Its Playerbase Within Months

"Marvel" games have been a mainstay in the fighting and action genres since long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe blockbusters debuted. But because "Marvel's Avengers" released only about a year and a half after "Endgame," it couldn't avoid comparisons to the overwhelmingly successful MCU portrayals of each superhero rather than comparisons to the comics. From the very first reveal, Marvel fans were already lambasting the look of Captain America, compared to a B-movie version of Chris Evans, or a cosplayer wearing military surplus gear. 

New games tied to enormous franchises don't become successful just from riding on the coattails of name recognition. In the case of "Marvel's Avengers," fans criticized fundamental elements of the game, and the issues piled up so high that Marvel's popular heroes couldn't keep peoples' interest — not even Spiderman, an ultimately disappointing PlayStation exclusive character. Now, developer Crystal Dynamics revealed that not only will the game receive no updates after March 2023, all support for "Marvel's Avengers" will end in September 2023. 

Players don't know exactly what spurred this decision, but it's easy to see that the game's playerbase rapidly declined after release. According to SteamCharts, after setting a peak concurrent player count on Steam of 28,145 users on launch September 4, 2020, it retained just 1,186 players by December of the year — that's only about 4% of the original playerbase remaining in just a few short months. 

Marvel's Avengers suffered from glitches, a lack of proper support, and design flaws

Now that "Marvel's Avengers" has revealed its own endgame, fans can look back on the game that was — and consider the game that could have been. There are several fan theories as to why "Marvel's Avengers" couldn't retain players, and the main complaints can be boiled down to three points: A prevalence of glitches, questionable design decisions, and publisher Square Enix and developer Crystal Dynamics' focus on cosmetics.

On launch, "Marvel's Avengers" was nigh-unplayable for many excited fans who were met with infinite loading screens and a host of bugs including gameplay, graphical, and UI glitches. In post-launch updates, most of the game-breaking issues were fixed, but nevertheless, it quickly garnered a reputation for being broken.

Another one of the most common complaints against "Marvel's Avengers" is how bad the designs of the main characters are. When fans got their first look at the game in 2019, the superheroes revealed were considered generic and bland – especially those who compared them to the MCU – but little changed from those first looks to release. 

These design choices were heavily criticized long before it came out, but even once they got their hands on it, many fans' opinions didn't change. Later into "Marvel's Avengers" lifetime, the development team seemed to be exclusively focusing on cosmetics rather than much-needed gameplay updates. Only a few days before announcing that all support for the game was ending, a cosmetic that simply removed Thor's helmet was sold for $14 in a move that many players considered lazy and even predatory – but that's not a new accusation.

The Avengers IP couldn't save it from bad writing and lackluster combat

If its bugs, heavily criticized designs, and a focus on microtransactions weren't enough to dissuade dedicated Marvel fans, the writing and lackluster endgame of "Marvel's Avengers" might have been. In a post detailing the failure of the game on the /r/PlayAvengers subreddit, users discussed factors that led to its downfall. One user pointed out the game's surface-level plot and things that could, and should, have been done to take full advantage of the possibilities of the "Marvel" universe. 

Another argued that the only reason anyone put up with the game for so long was the "Avengers" brand, and pointed out everything that needed to be fixed to make it work — but as one user responded, new games nowadays don't have months to make a lasting impression; they have to "come swinging out the gate." Players who could put up with the bugs and uninspired storyline of "Marvel's Avengers" couldn't put up with its overwhelming particle effects and repetitive, monotonous gameplay. Fans have particularly pointed out how long it takes to take even a slice of health off of some enemies, as well as how little variety there is in combat in general.

There's a lot that contributed to "Marvel's Avengers" bombing in sales and losing its playerbase en masse, and it's difficult to pin its downfall on just one cause. Ultimately, it seems that a combination of issues big and small resulted in fans and critics coming to the same consensus and moving on to play other, less disappointing games.