- Avengers' Lead Developer Brian Waggoner has parted ways with Crystal Dynamics.
- Sources say that the announcement of Marvel's Avengers' end is imminent.
- No additional content (characters, missions, etc.) will be released.
- Avengers' exit strategy includes an upheaval of in-game systems (time gating, micro-transactions, etc).
- The long-awaited "traversal update" will be Avengers' last.
Marvel’s Avengers has never had a particularly easy time in the press. The ill-fated licensed looter from Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics has seen headlines ranging from “Marvel’s Avengers No Longer Has A Roadmap Coming” to “Marvel’s Avengers Update Leaks Your IP Address” since launching back in September 2020.
The strength of the Marvel brand did little to turn the tides in Avengers’ favor, and criticism that arose during the title’s closed beta continued on throughout its lifespan—namely a lack of content, an overabundance of game-breaking bugs, and a community left feeling abandoned by the developers’ sparse communications.
This all came to a head in a report here at eXputer last December that revealed the end was in sight and that preparations were being made to sunset the title in 2023. Since then, it would seem the situation has evolved.
Brian Waggoner’s Departure
Sources tell me that while plans to end support for Marvel’s Avengers did initially stretch to the back half of 2023, these have quickened following the recent departure of Lead Developer Brian Waggoner.
Crystal Dynamics issued a public dressing down to Waggoner for a series of unearthed racist tweets this past November, stating that he “will no longer be a studio spokesperson or communicating about studio projects.”
This apparent muzzling lasted until late last week when Waggoner removed all mention of Avengers from his social media profiles and unfollowed the game’s official accounts.
Sources say that Waggoner was indeed let go and that he will not be replaced on the increasingly small team of developers still working on Avengers, with most already doing double duty on one of the studio’s other projects.
The remaining talent are expected to be moved full-time to Crystal Dynamics’ new Tomb Raider title under Amazon Games, which I am told is well into full-scale development and the subject of mounting pressure in the lead-up to a reveal later this year.
How it Ends
According to sources at Crystal Dynamics, the announcement that Avengers is ceasing development could come as early as next week. Their exit strategy includes a series of changes to the game’s various systems, namely a removal of artificial time gating and an overhaul to the available cosmetic microtransactions.
I am also told that the game will remain available for sale digitally until at least September and that efforts are being made to keep the game playable for existing owners as long as possible.
Outside of these changes and any subsequent bug fixes, the final regularly scheduled update is an upgrade to player traversal.
Sources tell me that this should bring the entire roster’s mobility in line with its most recent addition, resolving the long-standing complaint that heroes like Captain America and Hulk feel sluggish when compared to the game’s other playable characters.
Marvel’s Avengers had a wealth of content in various stages of development that will ultimately not see release.
These include “Patrol Mode,” a free-roaming mode set in the game’s largest map that would see players accepting “Boss Bounties” to challenge the title’s antagonists in unique encounters, among other smaller objectives.
This update would have come alongside “join-in-progress” functionality, allowing players to drop in and out of fireteams without interrupting gameplay, a working prototype of which I’m told was in testing last summer.
A clash with the famous Marvel villain Ultron was also in the cards, with work dating as far back as early development, where he was once the narrative’s primary antagonist.
This boss fight would see the friendly NPC robot Roy possessed by a sentient corrupt AI, with players having to set up beacons in order to extract and trap the foreign consciousness.
Several characters were in the pipeline as well, including She-Hulk and Captain Marvel. These 2 were part of an earlier internal content release schedule that was updated under Waggoner’s leadership to include heroes like Jane Foster, Shuri, and Ironheart, which could be accomplished on a lower budget by repurposing existing assets.
Marvel’s Avengers enjoyed a modest but active fanbase that kept the struggling live service afloat through its innumerable controversies. Podcasts, wikis, discord servers, and subreddits sprung to life and remained active even as player counts dipped, and the game’s competitors came and went.
Current and former developers I spoke with sang the praises of their co-workers and consistently described a fountain of potential kneecapped by inept studio management and Marvel Games bureaucracy. To them and the game’s community, Avengers meant a lot. I will remember it fondly.
Update: Its official now.
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