THQ had spent several years working on the Avengers video game. The story of how the game was torn apart is something that is not at all ordinary.
At first, there had been a bang. However, one of the familiar sounds in the office you got to hear was the clattering of keyboards. Surprisingly, no one seemed to be bothered. But, this sound looked a bit different, then came the second, third, and fourth bang. This was when people started noticing it. Slowly, they started taking off their headphones and peered from their cubicle to find out where the noise was coming from.
Eventually, it became clear a game designer was making it. He had taken up a blunt instrument and an umbrella and started battering on the file cabinet.
Charles Henden was a witness to this strange thing, and for him, it was not an ordinary thing. This happens with game development.
He said that many game developers were there. At some point or the other, they all beat up a file cabinet out of frustration. The developer had been working in Brisbane’s THQ Studio Australia. Here, developers worked in a high-pressure environment where they had to meet deadlines, and a large number of finances were at stake. Therefore, meltdowns like this were a common scene. In order to relax, they sometimes played at online casinos with 5 no deposit bonus, which made them a bit happier.
Rex Dickson said that every project had a story like this, and it would blow everyone’s mind. However, at that time, the stakes were even higher than regular times. It was not a normal project and was something special.
THQ Studio Australia was an established one by 2012. They had the right brains and the workforce to create top-end video titles with a genuine license. They were able to do it well before the cutoff dates. However, this time they landed a big project. The Avengers movie produced by Marvel and Disney was all set to hit the big screens in 2012. They were hoping to create a new change in the cinema field through this movie. The movie had all the things needed to be a smash hit and get a better run than the box office hits Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc. No doubt, it was a big deal, and everyone in the team was aware of it. Hence, they worked as if their livelihood depended on it.
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Nevertheless, irrespective of being a high-quality and innovative video game that will entice everyone who will play it, the project did not get to see the light of the day. No one knew that everyone working to develop the titles is going to lose their jobs.
The Australian dollar had to endure the most of a financial crisis looming large all over the world. This crisis made it clear that they are never going to make a profit. Thus, The Avengers title got caught in the hurricane.
When Charles Henden was informed that he was going to develop a video game on Avengers in a meeting during Christmas 2009, he asked: ‘What is this Avenger?’
Sure, standing in 2020, this question might seem a little out of place. But what you need to understand that he had raised this question way back. The Marvel Cinematic Universe was non-existent in 2009. The Iron Man movie had just started making this run in the cinemas. Marvel had not yet come up with the bigger concept of MCU. So, Henden got to know that the title based on Avengers was going to be a big one.
THQ Studio Australia had been behind shaping up the Avatar TV show or Megamind. They were on a roll. However, while developing the Avengers video, sparse details were given out. THQ had the idea of releasing the title and wanted to introduce the title during the release of the movie. But, they hesitated as no one knew what the movie was all about.
So, the team decided that they were going to design the game based on The Ultimate. Henden bought all the books because he wanted to become an expert.
In 2008, Sega’s Iron Man was introduced, and it won the title of Worst Game Everyone Played in GameSpot for the year. So, THQ did not want to make another Iron Man, they aimed to make Batman: Arkham Asylum.
After 6 months, the core design was almost complete, and the levels had started taking shape. But then things changed.
Employees Being Let Go
Steve Middleton, the general manager of the Australian studio, was not coming to terms with this corporate. At one point, the developer team had to deal with the inclusion of a new lead designer and certain other production workforce to work on the Avengers project. This was normal.
However, the next meeting was a little out of the ordinary. In the meeting, they were informed that Steve Middleton is being let go. This was a shock, and he was believed to be the scapegoat for the potential delays. Along with him, a group of artists was also asked to leave their jobs. Some of them were important for development. A sound designer had packed up to Australia from the UK, but the job no longer existed. As soon as he stepped in Brisbane, he came to know that he was not needed for the job.
Shift in Perspective
Christian Dailey came in as the game director of the Avengers video title. But when he checked the progress of the title, he saw that everything looked too familiar. He wanted to do something different and decided to make it a first-person.
This was tumultuous for people who had lost their colleagues from their team recently. However, they knew it was the right move. The biggest challenge was selling it to Marvel. However, when Marvel was told about the idea of the first person, they were surprised in a good way.
The studio was divided, and everyone started working on different aspects. But, they were already behind. Therefore, they had to work overtime. This heightened work pressure made the designer beat up the file cabinet.
But, the designer went to the kitchen to get a knife and started stabbing it on the desk. No one knew he was going to become so unhinged. Sure, he got counselling. But had to pay a high price for it and had to lose his job.
Moreover, Avengers sat in the middle of two worlds. It was a title that was based on an expensive license and required high quality. This was going to be an expensive game, and the cost of a license came as a deal-breaker. So, the title was cancelled and never saw the light of the day.