Marvel's Avengers is one of my favorite games of this year, and yes, I'm aware it came out in 2020. But 2021 is when the game which saw mixed reactions at launch came into its own and launched the much-needed next-gen console upgrades. I've been playing on PlayStation, because Spider-Man (eventually), but now, thanks to Xbox Game Pass I can jump onto both PC and Xbox consoles as well.
The trouble is, there's no cross-save, so I'll be starting all over again on Xbox. That's not a huge issue for me, because I love playing the game, and now I'm way more familiar with it a second run-through won't take nearly as long. But how cool would it be to just carry my hero progress over? Destiny 2 is one of the gold standards here and has had a perfect example of what I think Marvel's Avengers now desperately needs.
Why desperately? Well, while coming to Game Pass on Xbox and PC is good news for everyone who subscribes to Game Pass, it's even better news for those who like to move between Xbox and PC because it supports Microsoft's Xbox Play Anywhere initiative. But PC players on the Microsoft Store version can't play with those PC players who have already been saving the world over on Steam over the course of the last 12 months. And this is going to be a sore point.
We won't be getting cross-play in Marvel's Avengers
Let's address the obvious elephant in the room straight away and say that it's incredibly unlikely full cross-play will ever happen. As nice as it would be, we've all heard the stories about how Sony likes to approach it in the past, and since it's widely assumed PlayStation has the largest player-base for Avengers, partly thanks to Spider-Man I'm sure, would they even care?
Even the mighty Destiny 2 took a pretty long time to get cross-play in place, and that's one of the world's most popular live service games. Cross-play is tough, but cross-save it seems is a little easier to implement. And Marvel's Avengers uses hosted games over dedicated servers, and it's unlikely that's going to change any time soon.
Square Enix already has the building blocks in place for cross-save functionality. By creating and linking a Square Enix account to any of the platforms you play on, you can redeem generic codes for the game to those platforms. It surely wouldn't have to be as awkward as doing the PS4 to PS5 upgrade to transfer your saved data. Nothing has to be that awkward.
Why cross-save is important to Marvel's Avengers
In launching with Xbox Play Anywhere on the Microsoft Store, Square Enix has created two PC communities. You have one, the existing player base that has been using Steam, and you now have the new one made up of both Xbox console and Microsoft Store PC players. Whether this actually results in more players to matchmake with, for example, is but one point.
Marvel's Avengers has been a more successful game than many like to give it credit for, but recently they've been trying to give players added incentives to play together, be that with friends or random parties. A lot play solo, I know I do, and without a healthy player count matchmaking for the harder missions in the game becomes a pain.
Xbox now gets the benefit of not only being able to go between console and PC but as the two platforms can play together, there's a chance of a much bigger pool of players to join in with. There's plenty of people playing on Steam who, having given up time and money over the last year to play the game, will feel frozen out. But with a proper cross-save, they could simply move their save data to the Microsoft Store version from the Steam version and get all those benefits, without having to grind the whole game again and, perhaps more importantly, rebuy all their skins. Those things are expensive.
We live in hope
I'll be starting with a fresh Xbox or PC run-through regardless, but I've got characters elsewhere to boost with the latest 4x XP event. I hope that it gives Marvel's Avengers another boost in players because the game doesn't deserve the negative attention it fosters. For a new player especially, there's a lot of content to play through and the story stands out.
But we now have a fragmentation within the community, with two different PC versions that can't play together. There's no official way to move to the Microsoft Store version, for more chance of having folks to play with, and the benefits of consoles.
Destiny 2 has proved that the cross-save model works, and while it's not as good as a proper cross-play, it's the next best thing. If Square Enix wants to keep Avengers on the up and up, cross-save should become an immediate priority.
Marvel's Avengers will be available to play on PC and Xbox through Xbox Game Pass from September 30 at 10 a.m. PT / 1 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. UK time.
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