Years in development at some of Square Enix’s biggest Western studios, Marvel’s Avengers has been a huge flop for the company. In an earnings call, president and CEO Yosuke Matsuda admitted that Square Enix had to write down 11 billion yen in losses associated with Marvel’s Avengers, both in terms of development and marketing.
That’s around $105 million or £80 million.
It’s fair to say that’s a pretty huge blow to the company’s finances. In fact, Matsuda-san goes on to say in the Q&A portion of the call that their sub-segment of ‘HD Games’ (which includes traditional console titles like Final Fantasy VII Remake) would have been profitable without Avengers’ flop.
Absent factors associated with “Marvel’s Avengers,” the sub-segment would have been in the black. In addition to the amortization of that game’s development costs, another significant factor associated with the title was the fact that we undertook a major advertising campaign at the time of its launch to make up for delays in our marketing efforts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a certain amount of development costs still to be amortized in 3Q, but we want to recoup it by growing our sales going forward.
Marvel’s Avengers was originally planned for release back in May of this year, but was delayed back in January. When it eventually launched in September, it failed to set the critical or commercial worlds alight – here’s our Marvel’s Avengers review – no doubt leading to a little soul searching within the company.
Personally, I think a part of the reason is simply a lack of understanding over what Marvel’s Avengers actually is, and a little confusion when you get into the game in how it’s all put together. The game was revealed with the bombastic ‘A-Day’ events that set the game’s story in motion, but this whole sequence is purely a tutorial for the game’s basic controls. We were left asking what kind of game it wanted to be for almost a year after the E3 2019 gameplay reveal.
Not only that, but it focusses so heavily on the core Avengers characters , when the lead character through much of the story is actually Kamala Khan, AKA Ms. Marvel. While a Games as a Service title with many narrative drops, a lot of the game is focused around solo play as opposed to co-op multiplayer like Destiny and The Division. Oh, and then there was the fuss caused by Spider-Man being made a PlayStation exclusive character.
While the original delay to September cannot be attributed to the challenges of 2020, the subsequent delays can be. The first narrative episode featuring Hawkeye protege Kate Bishop was pushed back and will now launch in early December, and you have the delay of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S enhanced versions of the game to 2021.
It is still a fun action brawler, there is a solid comic book story that it tells, and there’s definitely been a lot of thought put into making sure there’s regular content coming to the game, but it just never managed to capture the imagination of punters. The hope for Square Enix is that, as with Destiny and The Division, the game can turn a corner and get more people to invest in its ongoing story and gameplay.