Marvel's Avengers

Marvel’s Avengers Provides a Fitting End to a Generation of Broken Games

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It’s been more than a week since Marvel’s Avengers officially hit the shelves, and if we’ve learned anything this past week, it’s that developer Crystal Dynamics' game launched far more broken than we originally thought. Sure, this time last week we’d experienced a few weird bugs that took the shine off the game’s largely decent campaign, but it’s only when you get knee-deep into the Avengers Initiative multiplayer mode that you realise just how broken it really is. In fact, it might just be one of the most broken games we’ve seen this generation (which is saying something), a mere few months before the generation is set to end. The generation that will forever be dubbed “the generation of broken games.” Or at least in our minds, it will.

If there’s one thing that stands out this generation, above all else, it’s the concerning trend, during the past five or six years, that publishers have seemingly been okay with releasing a game that, for all intents and purposes, is broken – it can always be fixed later with patches, right? From a legal perspective (in the UK anyway), you could even argue that a whole slew of games weren’t just not of satisfactory quality but were also not fit for purpose, breaching the Sale of Goods Act. Although I’m sure the UK courts – or courts around the globe for that matter – wouldn’t like to argue what the exact purpose of a video game is. Whether you’re talking Anthem, Fallout 76 or Halo: The Master Chief Collection, it’s a damning trend that these situations still continue to happen. Marvel’s Avengers is the latest in a long line of broken games at launch, and perhaps the most broken we’ve seen to date.

If you’ve been one of the unfortunate people who has really delved deep into Crystal Dynamics’ game, you’ll know just how broken it was and in a lot of circumstances, still is. The missing skins, achievements not tracking, the daily missions bugging out, the weird graphical glitches, subtitles not matching what is being said on-screen, disappearing health bars, players spawning in as the wrong character, and those painfully long load-screens, they’re only scratching the surface in what is a deep cavern of glaring issues. Sure, a couple of these problems have been sorted now, in three post-launch patches, over a week after the game’s early access period for Deluxe Edition owners, but the cavern still runneth deep.

The truth is that the aforementioned laundry list isn’t even the worst of it. What remained is the worst of the worst. Marvel’s Avengers’ greatest issues ranged from constant crashes (and when we say constant, we mean constant!) and the fact that players couldn’t complete various missions due to disappearing enemies on a consistent basis; to the painful frame-rate issues and game-breaking campaign bugs, like the ‘Interrogation Anxiety’ mission bug. The list goes on, too. And this isn’t just a few isolated issues for a small subset of players, you only have to take to Twitter, comments sections, and Reddit to see how widespread the issues really are. The vast majority of these issues still plague the game even now at time of writing.

Let’s be honest, the developers themselves – i.e. the guys and girls who actually put the game together – are almost certainly not okay with putting a game out in this state. The vast majority are incredibly hardworking individuals who are being asked to perform herculean tasks to meet clearly impossible goals. That effectively doesn’t really matter, though. The fact is it happens, and it’s the consumer that has to suffer and pay the consequences for what is ultimately an anti-consumer decision: to release a broken game and fix it while it’s out in the wild. The issue is clearly coming at a commercial level here, decisions made in boardrooms where profit margins and stock prices are more important than the consumers and their experiences of said products. As far as they’re concerned, you’ve spent your money, their job is done. It is an attitude that is truly harming the games industry.

Publishers and studios alike might benefit from taking an approach closer to that adopted by a developer like CD Projekt RED, assuring players that a game will only be released when it’s finished. There’s a reason Cyberpunk 2077 has been delayed over and over again – the Polish studio doesn’t want to launch a game as complex as Cyberpunk and have it be riddled with bugs. It’s taking the extra time to ensure the game is polished, and hopefully that will show in the final product. Take a game like Red Dead Redemption II, which was delayed for a year in an effort to attain a bar of quality that Rockstar believed the game deserved – ultimately, it paid off. And, while the longer wait was initially disappointing, it proved to be worth it. The mantra ‘good things come to those who wait’ is an apt one. And let’s be honest here, comparing multi-layered and open-world beasts like Red Dead 2 and Cyberpunk to Marvel’s Avengers is like comparing Dostoevsky to Peppa Pig.

You could argue that releasing a game in the current climate, with the COVID-19 pandemic and what not, there are bound to be a few issues as studios adjust to working remotely. But I could point to examples of games that have shipped without issues or have been delayed to make sure they reach the quality level that fans deserve in the last few months alone. There are no excuses here for Square Enix. And the answer to all this isn’t for developers themselves to spend more time entrenched in countless hours of crunch to finish a project, it’s for those who run the studios, who make the decisions, to make sure that the team has the resources and time needed to create the product they want to create and sell. Too often this generation, consumers have been an afterthought and that very much seems to be the case with Marvel’s Avengers.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re not talking about early access games here -- they, by their very definition, are pre-release and come with the caveat that there will be issues. Consumers buy into those games knowing that. What we’re talking about here is large companies, supposed industry leaders, releasing games that aren’t finished to satiate investors at the expense of the consumer. Every example I’ve mentioned are supposed to be high-profile industry veterans: Microsoft’s The Master Chief Collection; Bethesda’s Fallout 76; BioWare’s Anthem and now; Square Enix’s Marvel’s Avengers – those are four very high-profile, AAA games, from four major studios, being backed by four well-established publishers with plenty of financial clout. That’s where the issue lies. And it’s not just these four games that have released in a broken state either. Assassin’s Creed Unity’s was a buggy mess at launch; WWE 2K20 was a right state; DriveClub had a more than shaky start; and the list goes on and on.

So, what can be done in the future to avoid such issues? Could platform holders such as Xbox and PlayStation do more to ensure games on its platforms actually work as they should? Well, they’re supposed to fulfil that criteria now, but clearly that’s not working. Whether the responsibility should fall on them is also an entirely different ethical can of worms.

Should there be repercussions for developers and publishers that constantly release games that are the very definition of the word broken? And when we say broken here, we’re not talking about minor bugs that affect the quality of your experience, we’re talking game-breaking bugs, crashes, or general quality issues that prevent you from enjoying the product that you, the consumer, has paid for.

Something needs to change in the future to ensure consumers stop having to take the flack for the anti-consumer practices of certain developers and publishers. And as we approach a new generation, we’re hoping that these kinds of issues become a thing of the past, rather than a wearying inevitability in the future. Nothing in reality suggests that this will be the case, but we’re optimists. And if nothing does happen to stop these things happening, then vote with your wallet. Spot the repeat offenders and don’t touch them with a 10-foot barge pole - it’s the only way they’ll learn.


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Game Info
Crystal Dynamics
Square Enix


US September 04, 2020

Price: $59.99USD
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