Marvel's Avengers drops paid XP boosters, apologizes for not listening to fans

(Image credit: Square Enix)

At the beginning of October, shortly after the addition of Marvel's Avengers to Game Pass, Square Enix began selling consumable XP boosters. This annoyed fans for two reasons: One, because it was charging players to speed up the leveling process after making changes to slow it down in March, and two, because Square Enix had explicitly promised that the game "won't have random loot boxes or pay to win scenarios."

The response to the change on Reddit and the Steam forums was furious enough to warrant an immediate Reddit post from the development team warning that harassment and abuse will not be tolerated.

"Decisions at the studio are not made by one person, they’re made by a group of studio leaders," the message states. "We welcome feedback, but it’s not appropriate to target, threaten, or personally attack our community team. They are here to champion your concerns and give voice to them."

Today, Square Enix walked back the paid XP booster plan, announcing that Hero's Catalysts and Fragment Extractors are being removed from purchase. It also apologized for mishandling the situation.

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"We apologize for not responding sooner to your concerns about the addition of paid consumables in the Marketplace," it said. "We introduced them as an option for an evolving player base, and did not see them as pay-to-win since they don't offer power directly.

"After considering your feedback, we have decided that by the end of today we will remove Hero's Catalysts and Fragment Extractors for purchase. They will continue to be earnable rewards and those already owned are still usable. We hope that this can be the first step in rebuilding your confidence in us as a team."

Responses to the tweet are largely positive. Predictably, a few users question why it was an issue at all because, as Square Enix said, the items don't confer power directly, and "pay-to-win" is largely irrelevant in a PvE game anyway, but the vast majority of replies indicate approval from those who were unhappy about the original decision. 

(Image credit: Square Enix (Twitter))

Whether that will translate into renewed success for Marvel's Avengers is an open question: Its average concurrent Steam player count for October was 589, down from a high of 7,463 when it launched in September 2020. Unlike the singleplayer-exclusive Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel's Avengers is meant to keep players around with its multiplayer "War Zones," events, and updates. Steam doesn't tell the whole story because the game is also available on consoles and Xbox Game Pass, but even so we'd expect to see bigger Steam concurrency numbers if it was any kind of hit—right now it's not even close to the Top 100.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.