There is sad news in the MMO "pay to play" gaming world today, as Marvel (through Disney) announced that it is shutting down Marvel Heroes.
Kotaku reports that Marvel is terminating its business relationship with Gazillion Entertainment, the company that makes Marvel Heroes. In an email to fans, a representative from Marvel wrote the following:
“We regret to inform our Marvel Heroes fans that we have ended our relationship with Gazillion Entertainment, and that the Marvel Heroes games will be shut down. We would like to sincerely thank the players who joined the Marvel Heroes community, and will provide any further updates as they become available.”
The game was released in 2013, and though free, it encouraged players to spend money to acquire playable characters (such as Squirrel Girl, shown above) and then buy them assorted costumes. The game began on the PC before being ported to consoles ealier this year, and was considered to be Marvel's answer to a Diablo type gaming experience.
While players of the game are likely sad to hear the news, they may have seen it coming. Recent expected in-game events tied to Halloween and Thor: Ragnarok never materialized, and weekly "community updates" were being regularly missed.
Fans were upset by the lack of updates to the game, but the people making it weren't happy either. Kotaku quotes one anonymous employee, who had been working on new game content for the past three months, as being "not very confident" that any of his work would ever be seen. Helpless before the growing fan discontent, the employee laments, “While they’re sitting there reasonably flaming us, our hands are tied.”
This employee may have been one of the luckier ones, as two former Gazillion workers confirmed to Kotaku that there were three rounds of firings within a year of the game's launch, and that this very week, "several individuals who work on the game were asked not to come in."
However, Jeff Donais, the game's former creative director, is not pointing the blame at those that worked on it. According to Donais, the layoffs "would definitely not be the fault of the internal men and women who actually worked on the game itself or served the customers. . . It was a real thing that people didn’t see their families as much as they should, or sacrificed their health to work an 80-hour week when an important patch deadline was looming... The patch release schedule, especially when PC was the main focus, was aggressively insane.”
Here's hoping that the hard working men and women of Marvel Heroes find a new home for their talents, and that players of the game find somewhere else to fight the forces of evil.