Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix recently introduced a new character for their Marvel's Avengers game in Kate Bishop, but back in 2011 there was a much different Avengers game in development, though it never saw the light of the day. The game was being developed by THQ Studio Australia, and it was supposed to tie into the first Avengers film, which hadn't been released yet and subsequently hadn't set the MCU on a cinema defining course. The development was a long winding road, and a recent article from CNET reveals how things started so promising and ended up falling apart so completely, even though the game ended up being fun by all accounts.
As the deep dive reveals, it wasn't any one thing in particular that resulted in the game being cancelled, though some decisions along the way didn't help. It ended up being a combination of THQ mismanagement, a one-sided deal between the studio and Marvel to license it, a change in direction well into development, and a financial crisis.
Former executive vice president of THQ's core game business unit Danny Bilson remembers the horrendous deal they had with Marvel at the time, which essentially meant they would have to sell an unreasonable amount of copies just to break even.
"I didn't make that deal. There was a massive guarantee against that game," Bilson said. "You had to pay Marvel double-digit millions no matter what."
"Avengers was an expensive game," Bilson said. He estimated that THQ would need to sell 6 million units to break even, and only saw them selling 3 million at best. There was a feeling that Marvel had spiked the cost of the license because of what happened with their previous agreement with SEGA, who made the subpar Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America games.
The other big wrench came in when Steve Middleton, who had been running the studio essentially, was let go. That's when Christian Dailey was brought in as the game director, and while he liked what he saw, he thought it felt too close to what was already out there.
"I was looking at what was out there," Dailey said. "Every Marvel movie tie that had come and gone at that point was like this third-person kind of cookie-cutter clone."
After looking at what was done and looking at the market, Dailey made a decision that changed everything in an instant. "I said, 'F*** it', let's make it first-person." While he admits he didn't say those exact words, it rocked everyone, and he understood why. "Some new guy had come in and flipped everybody's world upside down," Dailey said. "But I knew it was the right thing for this particular game."
That was a huge change in direction, but as more and more work was done on each character, the team started to believe in the vision and most everyone really enjoyed the game as it was making its way through development. Though there was some interesting reactions to Captain America's role in the game, as not that many believed in the character due to his film not being out yet (Evans hadn't even been cast at this point).0comments
They were making good progress on the game, and as you can see it was looking pretty fun. Unfortunately due to the game's cost, the studio's mistakes, and the down economy, the game was abruptly canceled, and worse the whole studio was closed, further damaging Australia's already embattled game industry.
The decision to change the game might have made for the best game, but perhaps it should've stayed in its previous form just to get it out the door and earn what money could be salvaged. Thing is though, if they would've refinished the game, perhaps it would have sold incredibly well and started a franchise, which also would've helped, so it's hard to say what should've been done, but it is disappointing that it never saw the light of day.