Today Disney/Marvel announced it would be severing its relationship with games developer, Gazillion. Effectively, the news shuts down the studios long-running Diabloesque game Marvel Heroes. A massive online role-playing game which first saw life on the PC and in 2017 came to PlayStation and Xbox consoles using a free-to-play model in Marvel Heroes Omega.
According to the news, Gazillion will be shutting down servers for the game at the end of this calendar year. Between now and then, all real world money in-game purchases will be removed, making the entirety of its content free. Gazillion released this statement on Marvel Heroes Omega’s social media and website.
The game had recently added Inhumans content and Loki as playable characters to the console versions, but fans had noticed the lack of community updates over the past few weeks.
Personally, I’ve loved Marvel Heroes Omega since its debut on console. On a strictly gaming level, it was an exemplary title which did the free-to-play model well with fair levels of starter content and equally reasonable DLC pricing. On a fan level, the game was what Marvel should have always been. Games which endear themselves to an incumbent Marvel fanbase who care more about 70+ years of publication history over the latest Hollywood trends. I’ll be sad to see this one go in the same way we temporarily lost Marvel vs. Capcom from digital stores.
It begs the question of why this is happening now? Some employees on the game side have talked about being told not to come into work over the past few days and management holding more closed-door meetings than per usual. With Telltale Games recently laying off a notable amount of its workforce on the heels of the Guardians of the Galaxy game finale and now Gazillion being forced to shut down Marvel Heroes Omega, it could spell a consolidation of Marvel licensing as a means of upselling another deal. Marvel’s largest gaming publication partnership announced earlier this year, is yet to reveal details. Their upcoming deal with Square Enix already comes with a Disney history as the publisher has the legacy of the Kingdom Hearts series under its belt. So far, all we know from the upcoming deal is the gaming publisher gets tasked with developing multiple titles with the first being an Avengers game. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for Marvel to make certain parts of its catalog exclusive in the same way Electronic Arts gets to be the only NFL video game under the Madden banner.
There’s more at stake for Marvel than simply beginning and ending relationships. Making too many moves such as today’s news could give the brand a risky reputation in the eyes of elite studios who might then pass on working with Marvel developing gaming properties. While Hollywood flocks to be part of the latest comic book craze, video games have been carving out their own multi-million dollar IP. They simply don’t need to be part of the comic book world if there’s a good chance the rug will be pulled out from under them.
Marvel recently had another big game release with LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2. A game published by Disney’s rival, Warner Bros. It’s likely something that gets loopholed through LEGO’s licensing deal with multiple brands but probably does not sit well with Disney brass.
On a personal note, I wanted to say thank you to everyone at Gazillion for the hours of enjoyment I got from Marvel Heroes Omega and wish nothing but the best for everyone affected by the news. Hopefully, this will not be the last we see of this talented studio. If you’re a diehard Marvel fan with a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, you owe it to yourself to download and play Marvel Heroes Omega while you still can.