Disney has announced it is shutting down Marvel Heroes, the role-playing video game that was officially launched in 2013. The announcement was made with the decision to cut ties with embattled Marvel Heroes game developer Gazillion Entertainment after months of uncertainty.
It's a surprise for a game that earlier this year expanded from just PC to Xbox One and PS4 as Marvel Heroes Omega. The game, which launched in 2013, had a great pedigree with original Diablo creative lead David Brevik behind it as Gazillion's then-CEO. After a bumpy start, fans agreed the MMO had vastly improved in the last few years with expansions and new heroes added, thanks largely to Brevik helping to work out those early kinks in a well-received 2015 relaunch before departing Gazillion in 2016.
Related: Marvel Heroes 2016 Launch Trailer
A Marvel representative sent an email to Kotaku that addressed the situation but provided no further details:
“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 switch to console prompted a fresh wave of unhappiness from longtime PC players, who felt they'd been abandoned in favor of the shiny new toy of console development. With resources allocated to console, regular PC updates grew sporadic and the perks the community had gotten used to with Marvel's style of giving players the keys to the kingdom grew infrequent. Exacerbating the issue was the fact that interaction between players and the community team - the very team responsible for smoothing over bumpy transitions with the player community - waned as discord within the fan community grew.
Gazillion was a mess behind the scenes, with a few employees both current and former confiding that there had been three rounds of layoffs within a year of Marvel Heroes' launch, and others expressing frustration that players' understandable anger was being directed at them when their hands were tied. Game development is a grueling process for a smaller studio, with small teams often working insane hours to meet patch demands or launch new updates. Such was the case for the embattled Gazillion, and former creative director Jeff Donais told Kotaku that fault was not with the developers and rank-and-file employees:
[The lay-offs] 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.
Gazillion and Marvel never seemed to figure out how to balance giving players exactly what they wanted on a regular schedule with such a small development team and still make money. It's a shame that it's such an abrupt ending to a game that had developed such a large and loyal following. At the moment, it's unclear what will become of Gazillion itself, but with Gazillion's only other property being puzzle game Dexter: Slice, the end appears to be near for the game developer.
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