Earlier this year, footage emerged of a canceled Avengers game, which was in the works from 2009 until 2011. The game, which was never officially announced, was in the works at THQ Studios Australia–and as it turns out, there’s a much bigger story behind it.

GameSpot sister site CNET has a huge in-depth look at the story behind the cancelled Avengers game for Xbox 360 and PS3, what it was trying to do, and why it was ultimately cancelled. The game, which was meant to tie in to the 2012 Avengers movie, was taken down by a villain far more despicable than even Thanos–economic mismanagement.

The CNET story explains how THQ Studio Australia was drafted for the project due to their expertise with licensed products, making based on Avatar: The Last Airbender and Megamind–but in 2009, when the project first started to take form, The Avengers was not the massive property it is now. Members of the team did not know much about the movie that was on the horizon, with many details kept under wraps.

The team took the success of Batman: Arkham Asylum as a sign of what they could achieve, and initially the game was designed as a third-person, single-player experience. But after six months of work the game changed direction, with the studio’s general manager Steve Middleton being let go and the game pivoting to a first-person co-op action title, inspired by Left 4 Dead. Members of the game’s art and sound design teams were let go too, including one person who had migrated from the UK to work for the team.

The idea to make the game first-person came from Christian Dailey, who joined THQ Australia after working on a cancelled Batman game based on The Dark Knight at the (now defunct) Pandemic Studios. The article delves deep into the issues the developers faced along the way, but there’s one clear, major issue that the studio just could not overcome–the impact of the global financial crisis, which was still damaging THQ well into the 2010s, right up until the company’s eventual collapse.

The game was cancelled in August 2011, and a big factor was how expensive the license was–the game would have needed to rack up 6 million sales to break even, and since The Avengers did not hit cinemas until 2012, nobody could have known just how big a phenomenon it would have been. The strength of the Australian dollar also hit the company hard–between November 2001 and November 2011, the AU$ rose from 51cUS to over $1US, making it much more expensive for the company to continue operating in the country.

The full article over at CNET is absolutely huge and full of direct quotes from the people involved. It’s well worth a read.

Marvel’s Avengers–a completely different, third-person game that is not directly based on the films–is out September 4. Check out GameSpot’s early Marvel’s Avengers review impressions.