So, I’ve been seeing a lot of coverage surrounding Marvel’s Avengers dwindling player count. The game is suffering from terrible PR since its first reveal. Initially, people hated the designs, which seemed inspired by the Marvel Cinematic Universe actors but just off enough to create a weird juxtaposition. The reveal of it being a Games-as-a-Service concept just added fuel to the fire. Shortly after, Sony goes out of its way to ensure that people will hate the corporate side when they announced Spider-Man would be an exclusive character. Not just that, they started piling exclusivity partnerships that just tainted what goodwill was left.
The game was already fighting a steep uphill battle, which was exasperated by the buggy Beta and launch. Avengers became a popular punching bag, as it was an easy target just going by the build-up alone before players even could try it out. I am not here to defend what has happened. It shouldn’t have been this way, we can all agree on this point, but we also can’t change it now. I like the game quite a bit, so I wanted to dig a little deeper and dive into the rabbit hole to see what these claims building upon. It felt like we are only seeing a very small part of the picture, so hope you will join me in this journey.
So, this is the most current issue that is surrounding the game. You’ll see a variety of outlets sharing that same headline based on an article by Gamebyte. They, however, point to these claims being only “reportedly” a showcase of the game’s player loss. Surprisingly, most covering this claim do not repeat this aspect but have moved forward with the statement that this is a definite loss. Once you look closer into articles, it is clear that what is discussed turns out to be the PC player base, which does not include the other launch platforms.
Of course, it makes sense that the player base dwindled. The game has hit a brick wall with its content. Every promised update has also gotten delayed due to the bugs during release. The “rumor” aspect is rather bizarre, as anyone can publicly access Steam’s ongoing analysis via Steam Charts, which is most likely the source of this claim. One close look at the site, and it isn’t too farfetched that it has sunken from 28,145 players to 837 active players as of November 14th.
I can claim based on this image that the game has indeed lost 97% of its player base. Yet, I have to note this is only a representation of those that actively played it on Steam. So, it is only the peak amount of players during a specific timeframe that was connected. The peak does not account for those that purchased the game but have yet to try it out or replaced other players during its runtime. So, it could be even higher. We do not know how many actively purchased the game on Steam until this day. Still, from a concurrent point-of-view, it has seen quite the drop. It makes sense, as the game had the roughest launch on the platform, so it has a much harsher road ahead to regain its audience.
Now, we must take into account that the game is also available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. So, let’s take a closer look at the only available source for their player base, Gamstat. The platform uses an API (Application Programming Interface) that connects to the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. This connection creates estimates with a 10% potential deviation due to the statistical measurements based on the available data. This site is quite fascinating. If you are interested, you can read up on how it works by clicking here.
Okay, now back to the topic at hand. According to the database, as of now, the game has a total PlayStation player count of 2,1M with 190K additional players within the last month. It also can showcase that within that period, 320K have earned at least one trophy. So, these get counted as active players that interacted with the game to some degree. These numbers do not include players that haven’t earned a trophy. On the other side, Xbox showcases a total count of 860K players with 90K brand new ones joining in the last month. It’s MAU (monthly active users) is currently higher than that of the PlayStation with 410K. It is interesting if you consider that the total player base is higher on Sony’s console.
Our only sour spot is the Steam Chart source, which only shows the peak of active players and not how many have played at least once. For the sake of the analysis, we can only include the 28K as a representation of PC players. It isn’t a perfect analysis point with the concurrent players, but it is our only existing maximum player number. It is also available on Stadia, but we have no data for this specific game. Destiny 2 seemed to peak at around 30K players, so this game might represent a minor margin of it. As such, we currently are talking about a player base of 2.98M.
If we want to make a comparison point to see how many active players exist, we cannot state its current daily base between all consoles. Microsoft offers us a look at the daily active players with Avengers‘ currently having a daily peek at 6.8K. That would put it at 0.80% of its player base active daily, while 47,67% were actively playing in the last 30 days. Just this comparison highlights the difficulty of using the daily player count as the baseline comparison point. The best way to look at the existing player base is to base it on the common denominator. So, we can determine that in total 730K has played the game within the last 30 days.
All this brings us to the fact that by current estimates, 24,46% of the player base was still active within the last 30 days. All this data represents the time range of October 14th until November 14th. It can change tomorrow or the next week. Yes, the player count is down, and that is not good for the game’s long-term development. The biggest question is if the number will rise once more content has been added. Right now, PlayStation represents the game with around 70% of its player base. It looks like that Spider-Man deal might have been a good investment after all.
If we go purely by the existing numbers from Steam, it is only a mere 1% of the total player base representation. So, even if it is closer to 3 or 4% considering the data’s restrictions, it doesn’t truly represent the game. There are too many variables to pinpoint its current state. The only ones who can answer that question are Square-Enix and Crystal Dynamics. We can only estimate based on existing data. I am not an industry expert, but I do believe that there is enough available to at least get a better estimate than run a simple statement.
We can even try to make comparisons, such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2, which was released around the same time window. It saw a drop in returning players by 88.5% on PlayStation. Avengers dropped by 84.7% so held a little steadier in the same timeframe. Of course, they are different genres, but GaaS games have been out for some time. Anthem‘s player base most likely has already earned most trophies, so it only counts 13K returning players. That makes the comparison even more difficult, such as Destiny 2 having 160K players and 270K new additions. Yet, that game is also available to play for free, so you can see strong jumps since that change in September plus they were building up to a new content drop.
Once I went down the rabbit hole, there were so many variables that it is difficult to really confirm the claim that is being made. If Avengers can make more money off of players that check-in once or twice a week, does it even matter by then? They haven’t dropped a big content patch, so that could also get players to return. Yes, the player base is low when compared to its launch but the true question will be, can it recover? If we go by the usual Anthem comparisons, if that game can stick around after all this time and its launch, I think the game certainly still has some time to surprise us.
Source: ScreenRant, Forbes, Escapist Magazine, Forbes (Marketing), Gamebyte, SteamCharts, Gamstat (PS), Gamstat (Xbox), 9to5Google, StadiaSource, Gamstat (Concurrent Users Xbox), Gamstat (Tony Hawk), Gamstat (Anthem), Gamstat (Destiny 2), Games Industry