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Avengers Is Coming to PlayStation Now – And That’s Perfect

It’s no great surprise, but Avengers is finally making it to a subscription service. The Little Game That Should’ve But Couldn’t is finally going to find the home it deserves.

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That’s not an insult. We are in a period of transition – the old way of selling games is dying and a new one is upon us. Not only should Avengers have started its life on PlayStation Now and Xbox Game Pass, but it probably shouldn’t ever have been sold at full price in the first place.

Games cost a lot of money to make. They don’t make much money back. It’s enough to make the Monopoly Man lose his monacle.

But there’s a ridiculously rigid adherence to the $60 (now $70) price tag that’s hurting more than it helps. And Avengers is just another victim of that.

Avengers: Approaching The Endgame

What happens when you take one of the biggest properties in the world, and you turn it into a video game? If your answer is “it bombs – completely”, you might just be talking about Avengers.

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I, like most other people, didn’t buy Avengers. I’m a big fan of the films, I was mildly interested in the product, but there was no way in hell I was going to buy it for $60. I could cite extra circumstances – new consoles nearly out, a huge backlog – but the truth was that it just wasn’t a game that screamed full price to me. I didn’t even buy The Last of Us 2 full price, and that was a game that looked like it might be worth it.

That isn’t unusual, and it’s becoming more and more true as time goes on. It’s harder to justify a full-price game in 2021. Who has the backlog to allow for new games unless they’re something so important to you that you have to? I’ve got four games on the go today, and hundreds more across a dozen platforms taunting me from afar.

What chance did Avengers stand in all of that? For that matter, what chance does any game stand in all that?

There’s this myth among core gamers that good games get well supported. It’s not true. Games rarely break 10 per cent attach rate, and when they do they’re usually breaking it by single figures. They’re usually bought in sales. Some are bought used.

And yet the strict adherence to the $70 price tag is strong as ever.

Dropping the Price Tag

Knowing what we know about attach rates, it’s no surprise that publishers are so keen to stick to the higher price. If five million people are going to play your game after four years of development and two years of marketing, you might as well charge some of them as much as they’ll pay.

Marvel's Avengers Hulk

Do you risk halving the price only to find you still only sell five million copies? Even if prices increase, selling 10 million copies at $30 puts you in exactly the same boat as 5 million copies at $60.

All of this is very sensible and not particularly controversial. Except when your game is loaded with microtransactions and has a mountain of ongoing content planned. Now you’re not selling 10 million copies at $30, but you’re asking for $30 just to get the basic version of the game. Worse, they actually charged $60 for it.

Let’s presume that you could indeed sell 10 million units at $30. That’s double the gamers potentially willing to put their hand in their pocket and pay for microtransactions. You make the same amount of money from sales, and you get them earlier in the life cycle. But more people will also pay extra, because the game was such a good price to begin with.

Ideally, Avengers would have been released to great reviews, great user reaction, massive excitement. It would’ve sold gangbusters at $60, gangbusters at $30, gangbusters with each new DLC. That’s what Square wanted. Whether they thought, internally, that was realistic or not, we’ll probably never know.

What we know is that it bombed. It released to negative reviews. It released to poor sales. DLC was delayed. It became a meme, killing off any tail that it might have had.

Superheroes by Subscription

By the time Avengers hit PlayStation Now and Game Pass, Square Enix hoped that it would already have an established community of people willing to reach into their pocket and pay for every new piece of content available. The subscription services were an extra – an in for those that wouldn’t have otherwise played it. How wrong they were.

Marvel's Avengers Heroes

The reality is that these streaming services offer a point of contact for gamers unmatched in the entirety of this industry’s history. If you want nearly 20m people to potentially play your game, you pop it on Game Pass. It’s as simple as that. None of these “five per cent of all owners” releases – that’s the hugely successful Ghost of Tsushima, by the way – but significantly more.

You can’t pay the bills with exposure. But you can pay them with microtransactions and DLC. You can pay them with actual game sales achieved through word of mouth from subscribers – so long as the game isn’t overpriced.

Conclusion

AAA games don’t need to be “full price” to make an impact, but all too often they are. Death Stranding probably would’ve benefitted from a cheaper barrier of entry. A fantastic game that people didn’t really get, and so they didn’t buy it. One of my favourite experiences of last generation, and nobody I knew had played it.

If you’re too frightened to cut the price in half, cut it by a quarter. Don’t price out people who want to play your game, because they may not be waiting when the first sales hit.

With more variety in pricing and better use of the services we have, more games would stand a chance at being played. Until that day, some games will sit on game store shelves, dusty except for the gleam of that $70 price tag.

 

Article By

blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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Twitter: @matgrowcott    Google Plus: matgrowcott