On the face of it, Marvel's Avengers and Star Wars: Battlefront 2 have little in common. One is a 'live-service', loot-based brawler, while the other is a shooter based around multiplayer modes, but there's more crossover than you think.
Both launched in a rough state, likely due to publisher input, and both are set in iconic franchises which made them arguably "too big to fail". While Battlefront 2 has recovered from its initial crash-landing, Marvel's Avengers has yet to fully correct its trajectory - here's how one can inform the other.
What Marvel's Avengers Can Learn From Star Wars Battlefront 2
Back in 2017, Battlefront 2 made waves - and not the good kind. Here was a short, dull, single-player campaign, with a multiplayer suite propped up by pay-to-win microtransactions that could make player abilities better based on loot accrued (or purchased).
Fans rightly revolted against the game, and EA was forced to remove the pay-to-win lootboxes on the eve of launch, allegedly spurred on by a call from Disney's representatives.
Marvel's Avengers, on the other hand, is a full-priced game with a solid campaign but a grind-focused multiplayer mode - and many of the game's best cosmetics are locked behind a paywall. For a set of characters that have garnered fans over decades and generations, that's a tough pill to swallow, but hey, at least it doesn't change the moment-to-moment gameplay.
It's not a 1:1 comparison by any stretch, but there are a few lessons that can be learned from Battlefront 2.
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Since Battlefront 2 launched, it received content for The Last Jedi, Solo, and Clone Wars, before gaining even more for The Rise of Skywalker. Even as late as last year, the game received new playable Ewoks, and these were all added for free. Even the lacklustre campaign added an epilogue.
These things take time, sure, but each brings back a chunk of lapsed players, or introduces new ones. It's a gradual process, and Battlefront 2 had the advantage of blockbuster films to bookend its updates whereas Marvel's Avengers distances itself from the MCU as much as it can.
To its credit, Crystal Dynamics has continued to add to Marvel's Avengers, even in the midst of a global pandemic. We've had new missions, sure, but we've also had two new heroes - Kate Bishop and Clint Barton.
Therein lies the problem, though - if you left disappointed by Marvel's Avengers when it launched in September, are you likely to jump back in for a pair of archers? That's a little reductionist, sure, and Black Panther is on the way, but could we not have gotten someone a little different in the interim?
Even if we'd gotten Kate Bishop and someone like War Machine that plays similarly to Iron Man, it would've been arguably more exciting. Black Panther's addition will add a new Biome to the game, too, which is another big step - I just hope it's more exciting than what we have now.
As a comparison, Battlefront 2's first DLC added Finn and Captain Phasma as part of its Last Jedi DLC. There's a reason they didn't add the frog people from Ahch-To.
The other issue is one of investment. As I alluded to earlier, many of Marvel's Avengers most iconic skins are behind a paywall. It doesn't affect gameplay, sure, but the main problem is how much it costs.
You can earn some skins by working your way through the game's equivalent of a battle pass, but you'll need to spend real money for the likes of the Planet Hulk Gladiator outfit, for example. The cost of that is 1400 Heroic Credits (one of the game's many currencies) and that'll set you back around £12.
That's cheaper than in a lot of other games, sure, but many of those are free to play. Marvel's Avengers doesn't have that luxury, meaning the game costs around the same amount as the credits to buy four of the game's top-tier skins. Sure, there are cheaper options, but many just aren't that interesting.
Battlefront 2, on the other hand, lets you grind for its skins. Sure, it'll take you some time, but you can earn a currency to get yourself a new Luke Skywalker outfit.
Marvel's Avengers will let players grind Heroic Credits to a point, but the rewards cap out on the Hero Challenge Card, and while the card itself includes some skins, many just aren't as good as those you can buy outright.
I should clarify here that I have no issue with premium microtransactions, especially when they're focused on cosmetics. But is there really no way of lowering the cost of the skins, especially in light of the game's dwindling playerbase?
Time will tell, and it feels bizarre to use EA as a positive comparison point for monetising a juggernaut franchise, but these are strange times - and Marvel's Avengers is in a strange place.