Last week, the news dropped announcing that beloved Marvel character Spider-Man would only be a playable character on PS4/PS5 for Square Enix’s upcoming game, Marvel’s Avengers, set to release next month. The Avengers, in case you’ve been under a rock the last 8-10 years, are the group of well-known comic book heroes from Marvel comics. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably seen some of the recent Avengers movies. If you haven’t, consider yourself a statistical anomaly (just kidding, but really go watch them). Spider-Man will arrive as a playable character only on the PS4 and PS5 versions of the game sometime next year. Yes, you heard correct, the Xbox console versions as well as the PC version of the game will not have Spider-Man available. Yep, that kind of stinks.
Sony has been seen as the bad guy here, forking over an assumed large chunk of change in order to get this exclusive character for their version of the game on the Playstation consoles. Now, those of you who know me know that I’m an Xbox guy. That’s where I game, that’s the ecosystem I’m most comfortable in, and Microsoft is the company I trust more than the others. As a potentially slightly biased Xbox guy, I could easily be blaming Sony for not getting to play as Spider-Man on the Xbox version of Marvel’s Avengers, right? Wrong! I personally place most, if not all, of the blame on Square Enix, the game’s publisher. Now, let me get a few disclaimers out of the way. First, I am actually not planning to buy this game, even before the Spider-Man news. My boys and I have fun with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 on the Nintendo Switch, so that’s kind of my Marvel game right now when I need to scratch the itch. Second, the game has not looked impressive to me during the different gameplay trailers, marketing events, and other information available on their website. Third, I have no shortage of games to play right now, so unless a game looks really awesome at launch, I normally pass and wait for a deep sale.
While it’s true that Sony had to offer something in order to get Spider-Man, the final decision was ultimately that of Square Enix. Sony likely placed the first phone call as I don’t believe it’s normal practice for the publisher to shop exclusivity deals. However, Square Enix, eventually had to decide whether the pile of money that Sony offered was worth withholding potentially the most popular Marvel character from the Xbox and PC versions of their game. Sony made the first phone call, but Square Enix answered the phone, stayed on the line, and provided the routing number to their bank account for Sony’s incoming wire transfer. Square Enix is not a small company and they often make really good high-budget games. They did not need this money to get their game off the ground. Trust me, I blame Sony for a lot of things wrong in the video game industry, but not this time.
So what can we do? We can do the one thing I ALWAYS tell people to do when they think a company is acting too greedy. You vote with your wallet! If you’re primarily an Xbox or PC gamer and you’re really bothered by this, don’t buy the game, period, even if you also have a Playstation. If you’re a Playstation gamer and feel some disgust, it’s probably going to be harder for you but don’t buy the game. If you don’t care about Spider-Man, or the type of business practice doesn’t bother you, then buy the game and enjoy it. I hope you have fun, seriously, no sarcasm. But if you’re someone that fumes whenever you hear of exclusivity deals of this sort, you have to take a stand at some point, otherwise it is more certain to continue. Hit Square Enix (and Sony if you’re someone that disagrees with me about who is to blame) where it hurts the most; their bottom line. Make the Square Enix suits have to explain to their board of trustees why that deal they made ended up being a horrible decision. You can do it, I believe in you! Avengers assemble!