Fighting Games Friday: Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite Sales Problems

I’ve flung plenty of criticism in the direction of Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite since its reveal at PlayStation Experience last December, primarily about Capcom’s unfortunate handling of it. At first glance, fans successfully convinced Marvel that a new Marvel vs. Capcom installment would be worth it, and Capcom leapt at the chance to handle its development. However, many of us should have realized we were dealing with modern-day Capcom, which has been frustratingly rudderless in its direction. To say the company handled its marketing campaign clumsily would be an understatement.

Capcom never clarified why they made large graphical changes. As I mentioned in Monday’s post about the upcoming DLC (which is another separate issue), it’s clear Capcom wanted to go with a more realistic look to capitalize on the popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The issue is how they combined that with a lower budget, which they’ve provided for much of their current software, and both those elements tend to mix poorly — and it shows. The result looks worse than the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 games in parts, which benefited from comic book-style cel-shading for prettier results. The final game doesn’t look as bad as it did in some previews, in fairness, where some character models looked messy. Chun-Li was hit the hardest by this, but it helped when Capcom temporarily mocked themselves after they fixed it.

While the Fighting Game Community was bound to be there for the core game, one key question remained: How would the more “casual” audience respond? The MCU has brought in several new fans, as shown through their multimillion-dollar box office totals; Capcom undoubtedly wanted to target this audience, but had they successfully attracted enough of them? The answer is “No,” but curiously and frighteningly enough, current sales suggest it’s selling worse than even many skeptics expected.

The first bad news came in with its first-week UK sales, where it was not only outsold by enhanced port Pokken Tournament DX for Switch, but it apparently sold worse in its first week than even Ultra Street Fighter II for the same system. Japanese sales weren’t any better, where the PS4 version of Infinite only sold 8,273 copies; the XB1 version didn’t even chart in the top 20, meaning it sold less than 4,000 copies. Capcom’s Marvel games have never been big sellers in Japan, but that’s considerably less than the original MvC3, which sold just under 81,000 on both platforms in its first week. That’s also worse than Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which sold 22.436 in its first week on PS3. While overall software sales have fallen in Japan in the last few years, that’s still not a good result.

As further proof its sales aren’t good: The PS4 version of Infinite has dropped to #244 on Amazon.com’s best-selling games chart, and the XB1 version is at #469 comparatively. It’s also only sold 26,275 copies on Steam worldwide as of this writing.

In addition to the points I made above, one reason for its low sales is the lack of advertising. In the last few weeks, I’ve seen several commercials for recently-released games like Destiny 2 and Metroid: Samus Returns, and Star Wars Battlefront 2 ads are already starting to air. But I’ve only seen the Infinite one a few times. It’s clear this game was low-budget, but that apparently also applied to the advertising.

The roster choices didn’t help either, which I also covered in Monday’s post. In summation: 24 characters had their models reused from the MvC3 titles, though they were given more realistic shaders. Interestingly, some popular characters from the movies were left out of the initial roster who should have been among it, like Black Panther and Black Widow.

People were also hesitant to approach this game after how Capcom handled, and is still handling, Street Fighter V. The game launched with less content than the original version of its predecessor, and suffered from serious server issues for months before they were sorted out. More characters and content have been released over time, but the DLC prices are expensive — worse than actual free-to-play games in many cases. There was fear that Infinite could go in the same direction, and though it didn’t inherit most of the server issues, the announced DLC won’t be cheap here either.

Personally, I’m also questioning whether Capcom should have made a Marvel-only game instead of a Marvel vs. Capcom one — a successor to their Marvel Super Heroes titles, specifically. The Marvel brand is currently massive thanks to the movies and new comics that have released, but the Capcom brand has fallen far from where it was in popularity even six years ago. It also would have made this somewhat of a competitor to Injustice 2, though this presumably would have kept the tag-team features. Perhaps Capcom felt Marvel could boost their brand, but it’s clear that didn’t pay off.

There’s still a small chance for its sales to recover if both companies involved can get a good ad campaign together for the holiday season, or if they can provide a content-packed relaunch of the game sometime next year. If sales don’t pick up, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last Capcom fighting game for a while. Fortunately, there are plenty of other fighters coming in the future, including two tag games from Arc System Works, so anyone who enjoys the genre can find something to play. In the meantime, Capcom needs to do some soul searching.

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