Eidos-Montréal's Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy was the second game based on Marvel Comics characters to be published by Square Enix. However, unlike Crystal Dynamics' Marvel's Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy was a single-player game. More importantly, critics loved Guardians of the Galaxy, with many believing that it had the potential to be nominated for a GOTY award.
Although the nomination never happened - if it's any consolation, the game did notch the Best Narrative award at the 2021 Game Awards - the fact that critics and audiences alike had high praise for Guardians of the Galaxy would suggest that Square Enix was happy with its investment. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Square Enix's recent financial filing shows that the publisher was not satisfied with the sales performance of Guardians of the Galaxy. Then again, you can't exactly blame Square Enix for stating the obvious. After Marvel's Avengers, most gamers had reservations about buying a Marvel game that wasn't made by Insomniac Games. In this case, Guardians of the Galaxy could have sold poorly at launch, but the game's number of reviews on Steam alone suggests that the unit sales went on an uptrend following its release after word of mouth about the game had spread.
If it's any consolation, Square Enix notes in its report that sales of Guardians of the Galaxy continue to trend upward, several months after the game hit the market. Unfortunately, the filing does not include details about how many copies of Guardians of the Galaxy were sold and how many Square Enix believed the game would sell. This leaves us no way to assess if Square Enix is right to believe that Guardians of the Galaxy did not sell well or if the publisher just has impossible expectations.
Honestly speaking, we are leaning towards the latter. Square Enix is notorious for its high expectations when it comes to sales figures. Case in point, IO Interactive had to self-publish Hitman 3 in 2017 after Square Enix pulled out, only for IO to recoup development costs within a week. In an even earlier incident, Square Enix thought that the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider was a massive disappointment even though the game sold millions of units and effectively helped launch an entirely new franchise that inspired a live-action reboot in 2018.
Only time will tell if Square Enix is going to make sequels to Marvel's Avengers and Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy or not. In the meantime, SE is hard at work with some of its most iconic IPs right now. Earlier this month, Square Enix confirmed that a Chrono Cross remaster will be released for multiple platforms on April 7. Meanwhile, Yoshinori Kitase is hoping that the studio will be able to show off Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2 later this year. Finally, there are reports that Square Enix is working on a PlayStation-exclusive title that might be revealed soon.