Are Marvel games in trouble?

Main Street Electrical Arcade
5 min readOct 5, 2023

The Avengers are dead. At least in video game form, as the much-maligned Marvel’s Avengers videogame was delisted from all platforms less than three years after its initial release. The first non-lego game starring Marvel’s mightiest heroes should’ve been huge, arguably a slam-dunk success of a game simply based on the fact that virtually no Marvel games had been released during the first several phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe aside from a handful of forgettable to awful tie-ins during the very early goings.

But admittedly, Marvel’s Avengers stumbled right out of the gate with a very poor E3 showing and a confusing multi-player mode that seemed very designed to milk the money of out players first and present a fun way to play superheroes with friends online second. Some of this can definitely be narrowed down to poor marketing. I literally played hundreds of hours of Marvel’s Avengers and never spent a single dime besides buying the base game. And it was a good and fun game otherwise I certainly would not have spent all that time on it. It just never seemed to be able to shake those initial impressions no matter how hard it tried. It wasn’t the next No Man’s Sky, Final Fantasy XIV, or Cyberpunk 2077. No one was willing to give it that chance no matter how much it improved.

Marvel’s Avengers is just one of several examples in the last couple of years of a big Marvel game releasing and just flopping. Sure, Insomniac’s Spider-Man series does incredibly well, but that’s just one super-hero. There’s a bunch of them out there, a lot of them way more popular than they were 10–15 years ago, and they don’t seem to be able to really make hit Marvel games a consistent thing.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy suffered a similar fate. It also had a not-great E3 showing, but the word of mouth out of the gate was that Guardians of the Galaxy was in fact, really good and the game even made it onto many top ten lists of 2021. Didn’t matter. Given that it was another game from Square Enix shortly after the poorly-received Avengers it’s arguable that Earth’s mightiest heroes also doomed their outer-space counterparts (and you really should check out Guardians it’s a fantastic game).

Ok, but what about a completely different game from a highly respected developer of one of the biggest turn-based strategy franchises?

Once again, people just didn’t seem to get Marvel’s Midnight Suns either. Featuring a huge cast of familiar and news faces, deep gameplay and the chance to actually develop friendships with some of your favorite superheroes, Marvel’s Midnight Suns just never really caught on. People seemed turned off by the mere idea of card-based combat (I think there were early rumors of having to buy cards that never completely go shaken) and didn’t seem to like this outside-of-the-box idea for what you’d expect from a Marvel game despite it being mostly successful at what it was trying to do.

All three of the games mentioned above are in fact, quite good games and at least the last two should have been able to shake any early negative impressions and be successful. Is the fact that they bear the Marvel license more of a curse than a blessing? Is all people really want from a Marvel game just stuff like Insomniac’s Spider-Man and nothing else will appeal to a large enough crowd?

The lack of success of most recent Marvel videogame efforts hasn’t really slowed down things all that much as several projects are still upcoming. But aside from Wolverine, which will likely be a lot like Spider-Man, because well, it’s an Insomniac super-hero game, what are the rest of these games doing to make sure they don’t fall to similar fates? Playing it safe and just being third-person action games? If that’s all Marvel games can be, that’s kind of a shame, but also I don’t see most of these necessarily succeeding if they are all basically doing the same thing just with different characters.

The last few years have mostly been rough ones for games based on Marvel superheroes, and I’m not sure there’s an easy answer here if people aren’t responding to the games that are trying different things. There should be big action games, weird little card-based RPGs, and fun multi-player experiences and they should be able to work all under the Marvel license. Hopefully, someday that will be figured out but in the near future, I still think Marvel games have a potentially rough road ahead of them.

That’s all for today, will likely have something next week so until then, see ya real soon!

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Main Street Electrical Arcade

All about Disney games, past present and future. Mix of reviews, opinion pieces and anything else that fits here.