Earlier today, Disney announced that Marvel Heroes, the popular Diablo styled video game will be shutting down. In the same announcement, (via Kotaku) the company also revealed that it would be ending its involvement with Gazillion Entertainment.
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.
It’s unfortunate that Marvel Heroes on PC (and Marvel Heroes Omega on Xbox One and PlayStation 4) will be shutting down for a variety of reasons. The most important reason is that a multitude of developers are now out of a job. In the same Kotaku article, an employee from Gazillion revealed that there had been layoffs before the announcement that Marvel Heroes would be coming to an end.
One current and two former Gazillion employees confirmed to Kotaku that, within a year of the game’s launch, there were at least three rounds of layoffs. A current employee and a former employee told Kotaku that, this week, several individuals who work on the game were asked not to come into the office.
Over the past few weeks, the gaming industry has been hit with massive layoffs. First, Visceral closed its doors, and more recently, Gigantic developer Motiga let go some of its development team. We often forget that shakeups for some of our favorite games also affect those in proximity to the title.
Fans of Marvel Heroes are also affected by the sudden closure of the game. Let me explain why this is a huge problem for the industry. The biggest hot button issue right now are loot boxes and microtransactions. As someone who played Marvel Heroes religiously for the past few months, this is a crushing blow for me. Unlocking extra characters isn’t cheap. While the game itself is free, in-game purchases will cost you a pretty penny.
There is a set list of characters that can be purchased with in-game currency, but it takes a very long time to do so. You can unlock them at any given time, but you’ll have to shell out cash. Additionally, players can purchase, Elektra, Black Cat, Spider-Man, Deadpool, Black Bolt, and Loki for $19.99 each. There’s also X-Men and Avengers packs for $59.99. Lastly, there’s a Guardians of the Galaxy pack for $39.99. Each of those packs comes with characters, costumes, and currency. What shocks me the most is that the description for the $39.99-$59.99 packs via the Xbox Store indicates that the current price is a “steep discount.” At an expensive price already, imagine how much some players paid for these characters originally.
With Marvel Heroes closing on December 31st, I can’t help but feel terrible for everyone who spent money over the past months (on consoles) and even years (on PC) for new characters and costumes. I’m not someone who spends money on microtransactions, but this closure is making me second guess ever doing so. I play Rocket League all the time with my friends. There are some cool vehicles like The Batmobile, The DeLorean, and the Dodge Charger from The Fate of the Furious that all cost real money. My friends all purchased these cars, but I’ve yet to pull the trigger.
There are so many appealing items in video games that I’m interested in, but the unpredictability of the video games industry has me concerned. I’ve spent 50 hours playing Gigantic, and since then, there’s been a shakeup within Motiga. Although the game will continue to be supported, there’s always fear that something can unexpectedly happen to a studio or support for a game abruptly ends.
Marvel Heroes Omega‘s cancellation fully justifies my concerns about microtransactions. The cost of all the character packs I listed above comes out to $279.91 before tax. That doesn’t even count the other characters you can unlock outside of the pre-set character packs. That’s more than a handful of full retail video games. I can’t even imagine shelling out that much money and then “lose” everything because a game shuts down. Until today, I don’t think I really understood the negative side of microtransactions, but now, I know that I’ll never purchase additional in-game items and loot boxes.
I’ve been adamant over the last few weeks about loot boxes. I guess I need to be more outspoken about microtransactions as well. Companies rely on players purchasing in-game items as a way of earning revenue. If big companies like Disney/Marvel can shut down a game suddenly, EA, Activision, and Ubisoft can also follow suit. This instance is setting a bad precedent for the industry as a whole, and it concerns me. Microtransactions are becoming a poison in the gaming industry and today’s events are painting a scarier picture of the future. For now, there are two courses of actions. We can sit and wait to see how much more common microtransactions will become in the industry or we can vote with our money and boycott this practice altogether. It’s an uphill battle for gamers to stop this trend, but one thing is for sure; If microtransactions continue to be successful, we lose.