Square Enix is facing a backlash for selling Marvel's Avengers XP boosters.
A recent update to the game's store means XP boosters are now for sale via "consumables". These boosts let players speed up character growth in exchange for real-world money.
Fans have hit out at the move, pointing to pre-launch promises to sell cosmetics only.
Neither Square Enix or Crystal Dynamics have commented on the update (we've asked), but fans feared the worst when Marvel's Avengers received an XP nerf in March.
Marvel's Avengers, a recent high-profile addition to Microsoft Xbox Game Pass library, is not a competitive online game. But the sale of XP boosters has still been vociferously criticised by fans. The Marvel's Avengers subreddit is currently packed with player complaints. One fan said Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics "have destroyed player trust".
"Today's update is... wrong," said redditor u/iwanex, summing up the sentiment.
"For the first time since this game launched I no longer want to support it. I've spent some serious cash in cosmetics because I love the gameplay and the heroes. And also the events and expansions have been fun, so I didn't have a problem supporting the devs because they're incredibly talented and the actual product IS good.
"But this game doesn't have the luxury to do this when there's SO MUCH to be fixed. SO MUCH. They have been planning this for some time, using resources that would've been better used in other parts of the game, and above all, they've been lying to us. I feel like I've been scammed in some way.
"As of right now, I have more then 1000 credits to use for Spider-Man and I'll play every DLC they release because I paid for it already but I'll not be spending more money on this game.
"I know this is just my opinion and not everyone is going to agree with me but I needed to share this with the community.
"What a shame, really. I feel bad, guys."
Social media isn't a pretty picture for Square Enix right now, either.
Remember when Marvel's Avengers nerfed XP gain because players were 'too overwhelmed and confused' by how quickly they were leveling?— Skill Up (on Threads) (@SkillUpYT) October 8, 2021
Well they just added paid XP boosters to their cash shop, so now you can purchase some of that sweet, sweet overwhelmed confusion for a low price pic.twitter.com/LtU7AWiIPx
Last month, Crystal Dynamics published a new content roadmap for the embattled superhero live service game.
The long-awaited PlayStation-exclusive arrival of Spider-Man as a playable character is now listed for "fall/winter", while players on all platforms will get to confront Wakanda villain Klaw in Avengers' first ever raid.
Tie-ins to the Marvel Cinematic Universe will continue with the release of more MCU-inspired hero outfits. There will also be a Hawkeye nameplate challenge to promote the upcoming Disney+ show.
Marvel's Avengers first launched last September, and found players hard to come by. Content has come a little slower than fans were expecting, but it's clear Crystal Dynamics is still supporting the game for the foreseeable future.
Perhaps paid XP boosts is how.