Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite released on September 19th, 2017 not with a bang, but a whimper. A game that was at a time, an unthinkable dream for long time fans. Yet a mere total of just 1 million copies have shipped (not sold) since launch, which puts Infinite at less than half of Capcom’s initial 2 million target.
Infinite encountered an array of problems, though I was optimistic in my review. I felt that Capcom had developed a rather brilliant core game, and with the appropriate steps Infinite could be salvaged. Sadly, the game has been largely ignored since launch, and thus it’s about time to declare the dream dead (I’m sorry, Cyclops).
Despite swift price reductions and sales, people simply wouldn’t part with their money for this game. But why? Where did it go so wrong? Well, here’s why Marvel vs: Capcom Infinite flopped so spectacularly!
Only a measly 5 of the initial Infinite cast members were newcomers to the MvC series. Not only did this give Infinite the smallest roster in the series aside from Marvel vs. Capcom 1, it also resulted in the fewest number of brand new characters in the ENTIRE franchise history.I touched upon several of the major issues with the roster in my review. Aside from the issue surrounding Marvel’s dismissal of any and all Fox-affiliated characters (such as the X-Men and Fantastic Four), Infinite featured a total of just 30 playable characters.
However, the roster issues extend far beyond quantity, or even the rehashing of half of UMvC3’s roster. More importantly, it’s boring. Particularly on the Marvel side, wherein the vast majority of characters were chosen not because they would be compelling in the context of a fighting game, but simply to promote the MCU cash cow (with a couple of exceptions). It’s so devoid of the obscure, the likes of Shuma-Gorath, or the insane, the likes of The Phoenix that we’re left with a mundane cast. Obscurity and insanity were perennially linked to MvC, and without characters that push that envelope, there’s little to motivate players to rush out and buy the game.
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 hurt Infinite in two ways. First of all, UMvC3 was rereleased ahead of Infinite in March of 2017 for the Xbox One, (and 4 months prior for the Playstation 4). UMvC3 boasts a 50 character roster, a quality visual presence, and the series’ defining 3vs3 gameplay. It’s a superior game in practically every conceivable way.
Furthermore, the initial release of UMvC3 came just 9 months after the original version of MvC3 in 2011. In its first few months, UMvC3 and its sales were significantly worse than those of MvC3. There was a tremendous feeling of betrayal by Capcom among longtime fans. Those who felt they were being forced to buy the game for a second time (the decision to release the game as a stand alone entry in the series was made in part, as a result from the Tohoku earthquake). A practice that has been continually played out by Capcom, be it through the numerous iterations of Street Fighter 4, or the withholding of content (to later appropriate as DLC) from games such as Street Fighter X Tekken (and Resident Evil 5). Capcom lost a tremendous amount of trust from fans. Many of whom vowed to wait for future iterations of their fighting games to avoid being continually price-gouged.
This mistrust became somewhat validated when it became apparent that at least part of the DLC was withheld from the base game in Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite.
In addition to Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Infinite faced a number of marquee fighting games posing stiff competition around its time of release.
Not only the fellow-comic book inspired Injustice 2 in May, which featured attention-grabbing guests such as Hellboy and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but perhaps more notably Dragon Ball FighterZ. A game which seemed to take more inspiration from Marvel vs. Capcom than Infinite did, considering its visual style and 3vs3 team-based gameplay.
We additionally saw releases for Tekken 7, Arms and Ultra Street Fighter 2. Pokken Tournament DX was even released in the same WEEK as Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite!
2 vs 2
Capcom cited accessibility as the reason for the shift from 3vs3, assist based gameplay to the now infamous 2vs2 active switch system found in Infinite. I’m skeptical that this is the reason, as it was undoubtedly far more complex than its predecessor. Though I had nothing but good words to say about the active switch system in my review.
While 2vs2 worked, and worked well, it fundamentally changed one of the signature components of Marvel vs. Capcom. The issue being that you had to look past it in order to enjoy the change. In conjunction with the other bad decisions that plagued this game, it was simply another reason for people to be skeptical about the quality, and intent of the game.
They say that any publicity is good publicity. MvC: Infinite proved that old trope wrong.
During an interview with Gamespot, Capcom’s Peter Rosas infamously stated: “If you were to actually think about it, these characters are just functions.” in response to a question posed to him about legacy characters. It was a massive misfire, and became something of a running meme soon afterward. Fans became convinced that both Marvel and Capcom simply didn’t care about what they wanted for this game, or that they were at least ignorant to it.
Infinite faced further negative press concerning the quality of in-game models. Several characters like Captain America had mis-shapen bodies, but worse still were the character’s shockingly bad faces. Perhaps no more memorable than the reveal of Chun-Li. Even Capcom’s own Yoshinori Ono publicly criticised the horrendous looking face Chun-Li had been given.
The biggest problem: Marvel
Marvel are a notoriously difficult company to work with when it comes to video games. It’s born of their innate desire promote, promote, promote themselves. But more often than not it’s to the detriment of the product.
Marvel vs. Capcom 3 producer Ryota Niitsuma cited difficulty in dealing with Marvel’s demands, particularly when it came to Dr. Strange’s hand movements and gestures, that Marvel meticulously stressed over. Marvel’s controlling nature extendeddeep into the roster too, where characters like Juggernaut were denied due to Marvel’s lack of interest in promoting them. Even fan favorites such as Deadpool and X23 were characters that Capcom themselves battled with Marvel in order to include. This is why we saw a roster almost exclusively dedicated to promoting the MCU, and why the X-Men were omitted despite the series’ very first entry being an all X-Men fighting game.
More recently, a Twitch streamer who had worked on promoting Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite came forward with some tidbits about his experiences. Calling Marvel a “f***ing nightmare” to deal with, he spoke of how Marvel wouldn’t allow their characters to be shown in compromising, or weak situations in promotional material. Previously, the Disney Infinity team encountered similar issues with Marvel forbidding the promotion of their characters alongside Disney’s in advertisements.
Prior to the announcement of Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite, I had severe reservations about the existence of a hypothetical
MvC4. Though I really wanted a sequel to one of my favourite games. IN THEORY. These aspirations were over-ridden by the concern I had for Capcom’s continued growing incompetency surrounding many of their biggest IPs. Moreover, I knew that in their current state Marvel would walk all over them.
A fighting game’s selling point comprises two main components: its roster and its core mechanics. Marvel obliviously sabotaged the roster, and Capcom were completely incapable to convey their changes in a positive light.
It was a recipe for disaster. It seems that Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite was doomed to fail…
What do you think? Could Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite have been more? Let us know in the comments!