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Gameverse | November 26, 2020

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Why Marvel’s Avengers is a Triple-A Mobile Game

Matthew Byrd

Marvel's Avengers

Fans everywhere finally got their hands on Marvel’s Avengers thanks to the first stage of the game’s beta. While impressions across the board are somewhat mixed, the general consensus seems to be that Marvel’s Avengers doesn’t feel like it’s quite ready yet.

You may think that reaction is largely based on the fact that we’ve only played a beta of an unfinished game. However, we don’t think that’s the case. We actually think that Marvel’s Avengers‘ problems aren’t the result of an incomplete design. Instead, they seem to be the result of a very intentional design decision to model the game after a mobile title.

To help justify that accusation, here are six of the ways that Marvel’s Avengers feels like an ambitious mobile game.

In-Game Promotions

Recently leaked photos hint at upcoming in-game promotions from companies like 5Gum and Intel. Rumors suggest that you may need to buy outside products in order to unlock the cosmetics associated with these promotions.

This is a page right out of the mobile game playbook. Corporations and other outside promoters have historically been eager to promote the most popular mobile games. We even saw Fortnite utilize more and more of these promotions as the game became more popular on mobile devices.

The unlockables may be little more than cosmetics, but the idea that Marvel’s Avengers is seen as a canvas for advertisements doesn’t’ bode well.

Simplified, Power Fantasy Gameplay

There’s nothing wrong with “simple” gameplay. Tetris is simple, and it’s one of the most addictive and long-lasting game franchises ever.

The problem with Marvel’s Avengers gameplay is that it shouldn’t be quite as simple as it is. Despite the presence of multiple abilities, upgrades, and similar design elements, much of the action boils down to basic combat against enemies that exist to be defeated.

Marvel’s Avengers tries to sell the idea that it’s deeper than it actually is. Why? Well, that may have to do with the other thing that Marvel’s Avengers is trying to sell…

Multiple In-Game Currencies and Microtransaction Opportunities

Microtransactions have been the biggest talking point in the “anti-mobile” movement.  While some microtransactions can be fine (such as DLC expansions), the problem with mobile games is that so much of the experience is designed to encourage you to purchase in-game currency and items.

That feels like it could be the case with Marvel’s Avengers. While it’s a little hard to tell from the beta how microtransactions will play out, the presence of multiple in-game currencies and so many cosmetics is definitely a red flag.

It’s easy to see how the game will encourage you to just buy certain bits of currency rather than earn them by playing. When a game is trying to get you to spend money to not play it, that’s a bad sign.

Dependant on a Popular Franchise

While this point isn’t inherently a bad thing, it is a bit worrying when you combine it with the issues that we’ve outlined above.

Simply put, we can’t imagine that we’d be talking about Marvel’s Avengers if it wasn’t an Avengers game. There’s really nothing special about the game outside of its very popular license.

Yet, that seems to be the point. It’s easy to imagine millions buying the game later this year simply because they want some kind of Avengers game. Again, that should be worrying to anyone who wants more.

Technically Impressive, Artistically Dull Visuals

This is another one of those qualities that are low on the list of current concerns but still drive home the idea that Marvel’s Avengers shares a lot of DNA with mobile games.

While Marvel’s Avengers‘ graphics are adequate and seemingly utilize the best of modern technology from a purely technical standpoint, the game is artistically bland. Characters look like they were designed by A.I., levels are largely “industrial,” and most animations lack fluidity.

Marvel’s Avengers is designed to look good in screenshots. When you start playing it, the whole thing falls apart.

It’s Not About the Base Game

We’re willing to bet that people 2-3 years from now will be talking about how Marvel’s Avengers overcame a rough start to become a pretty good game.

Our advice would be to wait and play it then. It’s pretty clear at this point that Square Enix sees Marvel’s Avengers as a work-in-progress. The base game appears to be just that. A base. It’s meant to be built upon for years to come, which would be fine if we were convinced that the foundation is solid.

However, we’re simply not convinced. For years, mobile games have depended on a flood of incoming content in order to keep things lively and fix core problems. That seems to be what we’re dealing with here.