Like any AAA looter game in the market, Marvel’s Avengers does have its fair share of microtransactions. It’s natural to worry about how tied to the core game the microtransactions are, especially considering how poorly other games have implemented them. Thankfully, as of launch, Marvel’s Avengers’ microtransactions aren’t that invasive. They aren’t cheap by any means, but players won’t find them shoved in their faces much. In fact, there’s a lot in Marvel’s Avengers’ implementation of microtransactions that other full-priced titles can learn from.
Microtransactions in Marvel’s Avengers are set up as a purely cosmetic experience. Powering up your characters is accomplished through leveling and collecting gear through gameplay. There are vendors at the two hub locations that sell gear, but those all use the in-game currency.
Microtransactions break down into four categories: skins, emotes, nameplates and Hero Challenge Cards. Skins, emotes and nameplates are purchasable with the premium currency (Credits) with costs varying depending on their assigned rarity. A Legendary outfit is going to retail for 1400 Credits. Emotes are acceptable, and some look alright, but their pricing is absurd (1000 for a Legendary emote). Nameplates are easily the most forgettable and only show up when forming a squad. They’re throwaway cosmetics that aren’t necessary and you can earn a lot just by playing the game.
Getting all the Legendary and other rare outfits outright is pricey, but the game never rubs that in your face, nor does it make getting them unobtainable. For one, Marvel’s Avengers rarely makes players look at its Marketplace. Outside of the main menu and a small selection icon at the bottom of the Outfits page, there’s no other way to get to the Marketplace. That’s right, no giant tab in the menu just staring you down every time you pause the game. Secondly, you can actually earn these Legendary skins using in-game currency. They aren’t cheap, but the cosmetic vendors will sell a rotating selection of them to you. If none of those suites you, there are still plenty of outfits that can be earned by playing the campaign, completing hero specific quests or nabbing them through the vendor.
The most interesting aspect of the microtransaction system, however, is Hero Challenge Cards. These are, for all intent and purposes, Marvel’s Avengers’ takes on the Battle Pass. Each challenge card has forty tiers to work through and doles out cosmetics and Credits as you complete tiers. All upcoming characters will charge a fee of 1000 Credits to unlock their Challenge Card. Crystal Dynamics have, however, opened the Challenge Cards for all six launch heroes, allowing players to earn a ton of Credits that can then be put towards other cosmetic items or new heroes’ Challenge Cards.
Leveling up the Challenge Card takes time, but Marvel’s Avengers is more transparent about how you do it than any other game. Each Challenge Card has 200 points you need to earn, which you can acquire by completing daily and weekly challenges. The challenges aren’t too over-the-top, but there aren’t enough of them. Since there are only two daily and two weekly challenges, you won’t be able to quickly finish your card. It’s something that’s going to take you a handful of weeks.
What the rest of the industry should take away from Marvel’s Avengers implementation of the Battle Pass is how it eliminates the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). FOMO is a real thing in games-as-a-service (GAAS) titles. Developers hope to keep players on their game by selling them a Battle Pass and then putting a timer on it. Players end up paying for the privilege of putting themselves through the ropes to unlock all the tiers of content. Some games, like Destiny 2, have shown a desire to remove or lessen the FOMO element, but so far have not been willing to tackle it head-on properly. Marvel’s Avengers just outright removes it. There are no timers on the Challenge Cards for the current crop of characters or, according to Crystal Dynamics, for the upcoming post-launch characters. It’s a refreshing, pro-consumer approach, and hopefully more $60 titles implement something similar.
Marvel’s Avengers does have microtransactions, but compared to other recent GAAS titles, they’re relatively noninvasive. The game doesn’t rub them in player’s faces with pop-ups or prominent spacing on the menu and it provides alternative methods of getting the rarer items. It’s take on the Battle Pass is refreshing, transparent, and shockingly, pro-consumer. Of course, that doesn’t mean things won’t change. We’ve seen plenty of titles start benign before going crazy with their microtransactions. Hopefully, Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix can resist that urge. At launch, though, this is a good implementation of microtransactions.
Marvel’s Avengers is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Stadia. PS5 and Xbox Series X versions launch sometime this holiday season. Be sure to check back soon for our full review.