Today, Marvel (under Disney) said that it is ending its relationship with Gazillion Entertainment, who makes Marvel Heroes. In an e-mail, a Marvel representative wrote:
“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.”
Released in 2013 for PC, Marvel Heroes is a sort of “Marvel Diablo” MMO. It’s a free-to-play game that sells playable characters like Spider-Man, Squirrel Girl or Storm, and costumes for them. Earlier this year, the game ported to PS4 and Xbox One.
Marvel Heroes players knew the game’s developer might be in dire straits when, over the last month, the studio stopped talking about progress on the game. Developer Gazillion missed four of its weekly community updates, plus the game’s Halloween event and upcoming Thor Ragnarok movie tie-in content, something the community expected. Fans also noticed that two community managers seemed to disappear from the forum. On October 27th, the game was slated to release the Gladiator Thor pack.
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.
One current employee, who wished to remain anonymous, said that over the past two to three months, he had been developing features for the game, but was “not very confident” that they would eventually get implemented. Of Marvel Heroes fans, he said, “While they’re sitting there reasonably flaming us, our hands are tied.”
Marvel Heroes’ former creative director, Jeff Donais, told Kotaku that “[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.”
[Update—11/16/17]: In a tweet, Marvel Heroes’ team announced that the game’s servers would shut down after December 31st, 2017 and that they are now removing the ability for players to buy things in the game.