Marvel Heroes' Unexpected Shutdown and Its AftermathMay 10, 2018 | 1 Votes by Aethyna 10 rate Back in November of 2017, just a few days prior to Thanksgiving, the greatest MMORPG that never was shut down the last of its servers with hardly any notice to its players. Find out more about the story behind the MMO, Marvel Heroes, and the game studio that had developed and published it.
The staff at Gazillion Entertainment had the shock of their lives a few days before Thanksgiving back in 2017 when the company decided to lay off all of their remaining staff without any severance and paid time-off payouts.
This drastic and unexpected move was decided after Disney cut ties with the games company on November 15th, which had led to the announcement that the rebooted version of Marvel Heroes, Marvel Heroes Omega, was to be shut down immediately on the 28th of November, 2017.
Gazillion Entertainment was once thought to have the potential to develop an MMO game that might just rival the greatest MMO of all time – World of Warcraft (WoW). Helmed by Rob Hutter, the former CEO of Revolution Ventures, and John Romero, the co-creator of Doom, the company had huge ambitions and had even managed to obtain the rights to develop an MMORPG for a franchise that’s as massive as their ambitions – the superheroes-laden Marvel franchise.
Marvel Heroes has had a pretty rocky start as it was plagued with glitches, bugs and the like during its initial launch in 2013, but the company worked fast and managed to bring everything under control with patches and updates. They have also acted on early feedback from their players and have made crucial changes to their content and micro-transaction prices.
As a result of two year-long change, the poor early reviews that Marvel Heroes has obtained swung towards the positive, giving the MMO a new lease on life. Granted that this life is nowhere close to the success enjoyed by WoW over the years, the game is at least doing okay for itself and that the players who have decided to stick around were pretty sizeable.
In spite of this, however, Gazillion had to lay off several employees near the end of 2015. At this time, the company was under David Brevik, the co-creator of the biggest dungeon crawler game franchise, Diablo, and one of Blizzard North’s leaders.
Brevik eventually resigned as CEO early 2016, and David Von Dorman, a board-level investor at Roth Capital Partners and at Oak Investment Partners took over. It was then Gazillion and its MMO game really went downhill.
Aside from several failed attempts at revitalizing a dwindling player population (the console release for Marvel Heroes, which had seen the change in the game title to Marvel Heroes Omega, for example), the company had made many costly mistakes including neglecting their main player base on the PC platform when it comes to providing support, as well as patches and updates, and their misguided effort in relentlessly pushing “console-exclusive” patches for its smaller player population on consoles.
Not to mention, the company even went ahead and announced a new VR game for consoles in October of 2017, much to the dismay of its Marvel Heroes fans who have been waiting for the cross-platform play they have been promised.
This pales in comparison, however, when it comes to the numerous rumors regarding sexual harassment allegations surrounding the already-beleaguered CEO. Back then, the people that Von Dorman had worked with didn’t come out and outright accused him of the deed, but many former leaders at Gazillion had hinted at the truth behind the rumors. After all, there’s no smoke without fire.
Things really came to a crescendo, so to speak, when the games studio started to communicate less, with the game’s previously-active Twitter account being apparently abandoned. There are also unexpected and unexplained “delays” for game updates which frustrated many of their players.
But ultimately, the final straw came when no Halloween event was announced for Marvel Heroes. Missing such an important event most likely hinted at a possible shut down of a game. Initially, the game announced that Marvel Heroes would be shuttered by the 31st of December. As such, many players have started to put in requests for refunds and only 0.2% of players managed to get their money back.
This shutdown deadline was eventually brought forward when the Marvel Heroes sent its final message via Twitter on November 28th stating the unexpected closure of the game studio itself and hence, the accelerated shut down of Marvel Heroes. On that same day, the Marvel Heroes website, Steam page and forums all have been taken down.
Many have thought that the game never really reached its full potential. Despite the insane hype over anything Marvel these days and the increasing number of lifelong Marvel fans, the studio had failed to capitalize on the successes of any of the Marvel films to promote their game. Well, there’s no point crying over spoilt milk now.
However, what’s truly saddening about all of this is that once a free-to-play MMO is gone, it’s just that… gone. Players of Marvel Heroes were left with hardly any closure with many of them not having a chance to properly bid the game they have loved goodbye. Many of them didn’t even managed to get refunded for the money they have invested in the game in anticipation of future announced content, such as the supposedly massive Age of Apocalypse update.
At the end of the day, all the former players of the short-lived Marvel Heroes can bring along with them as the last of the servers powered down are their memories of a game well-played. And hopefully, that is enough.