Wednesday, April 14, 2021

What Crystal Dynamics learned from the brutal launch of Marvel’s Avengers

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At launch, Marvel’s Avengers was praised for its fun and captivating narrative moments, but it quickly became apparent that the post-game content didn’t live up to the cinematic, curated moments delivered by the more linear missions. After launch, Crystal Dynamics remained largely silent as next-gen releases and post-launch heroes were delayed, and repeating playing through the same content over and over had an impact on player count. simultaneous. With yesterday’s announcement of Marvel’s Avengers 2021 content roadmap, we sat down with Crystal Dynamics studio manager Scot Amos to talk about what the team learned from the launch and how it will affect development and the game going forward.

While Amos says he and the team are proud of what she has accomplished, he has no illusions that it was a perfect launch. The studio looked at the number of fixes needed to get into the game soon after release and made the decision to take everyone away from what they were working on, delaying new content and features. The decision was made to focus on fixing the game first and then on features so that the team, when ready to develop and deliver new content, would do so on a more solid footing.

“We were honored at the launch,” says Amos. “We are absolutely committed to delivering the game that fans want and deserve. We believe in that and we believe in what this game could be, so we are committed to doing it right.”

Crystal Dynamics monitored its community, as well as the media covering the game and worked to analyze what needed to be prioritized. “We listen – we really do,” Amos says. “We hear what you say. We hear what the press says, what the media say. It’s our job to take it all, deal with this – good and bad – and we’re going to say, ‘How do we use it. this to help us adjust our philosophy? ‘”

The initial fixes for Marvel’s Avengers were heavy, with several title updates a few weeks earlier, with some delivering over a thousand fixes. Unfortunately, communication with the community fell off quite significantly in the post-launch period, with the team focusing on fixing existing game issues right now instead of delivering new features and software. content.

Marvel's Avengers

This delay in content made the team feel “shy” when delivering a long-term roadmap like the one we saw this week, but the team are aware that their lack of communication has done the game or its community a disservice. “We haven’t been exactly on the cutting edge of technology when it comes to communication and talking to fans and [the media] and really be as transparent as we could have been, “Amos says.” It is that pivotal point for us to change where we are and where we are going. “

These learnings that Crystal Dynamics had before launch and over time that followed will help shape not only the development of the game, but also how communications will work in the future. “Learning all these little things that need to be much clearer, that need to be really crystal-clear in communication, is a big step for us,” says Amos. “Painful learning. And being able to say now that we can apply that to our future.”

While Crystal Dynamics has learned a lot by releasing and supporting an ambitious living game like Marvel’s Avengers, it is also following in the footsteps of other living games that have suffered from poor launches. Destiny and Anthem are two perfect and divergent examples of how games can respond to lukewarm launches, with Destiny still going strong to this day, while The redesign announced by Anthem was recently completely halted by developer BioWare.

Marvel's Avengers

“We studied these games before we even launched them, while we were building this one, and you can certainly see the characteristics of some of the things they do, that we might have, shall we say, co-opted ideas,” says Amos. “Looking at that, we thought we were ready. We thought we were ready because we had a plan, we had a roadmap, and then what happened at launch where there was so much that we weren’t ready so we weren’t expecting us to fix it. […] We looked down the road at some of these folks who had the exact same rough launch, got reviews for what they did or didn’t deliver, and what people were expecting versus what has actually been delivered. We really did a lot of homework. “

Crystal Dynamics is also not the only studio facing extreme circumstances over the past year, as the world has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. While some developers made smoother transitions thanks to initiatives already in place, Crystal Dynamics has been affected by the rapid move to work from home. “We’ve had all the challenges everyone has had to face with this last year of working from home when we’ve never done it; we’ve certainly never launched a game this way before and then we realized how hard it is not just to do it. launch, but then to support that, “Amos says.” Everything takes three or four times as long. For example, having a version created, having a version distributed to our quality control managers, recover the bugs, fix those bugs, have it retested … just the impact of time, the deployment of it, it took us a few months to put our sea foot under us to understand this that we can do. ”

Marvel's Avengers

So, as the team moves forward, Crystal Dynamics is changing how and what it does, and how it delivers these features and content. “It’s going to take time and investment,” says Amos. “We’re going to have to look at this in a new way of saying what are the things that we need to change to be able to get the people who are already in it to stay, for the people who are looking at us and saying somehow, “Oh that was fun, but I’m gonna go do something else,” and the people that haven’t looked at us yet, and say, “How do I get all these people back when they all have a slightly different need than they do. want out of this game? ‘”

Looking ahead, Amos is optimistic about the future of Marvel’s Avengers. “We love what we’ve done with this game and we’re desperate to get everyone to see this cool stuff and remove anything that is blocking or obscuring all the fun aspects,” he says. “There are so many games that people just haven’t seen or that we haven’t done a great job of communicating. For our part, we’re disappointed that we didn’t send people properly. , which we didn’t understand, they hung at the start as big as we wanted. […] We know we’re letting some fans down where we want it to be, but what we’ve come up with and what I believe to be in this game is why, from top to bottom, we are committing to it because we know what’s here. “

Marvel's Avengers

Only time will tell if Crystal Dynamics can turn the ship around completely, but with a clear roadmap for gamers, it is already making great strides in the communications department, while this roadmap seems to indicate that the studio is returned to the state he wanted to be. in, where he works regularly to deliver new features and content to players. For more on Marvel’s Avengers and its recent and upcoming content, read more interviews with Crystal Dynamics on topics like Hawk Eye, Black Panther, and 2021 game roadmap.

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