Marvel Heroes will shut down at the end of the year

Marvel Heroes

Superhero Diablo-like Marvel Heroes never really had much of a chance. A terribly rushed launch to try and capture as much superhero hype as possible backfired, leaving what could have been a successful game with a mammoth struggle just to find its footing and catch up.

This summer’s relaunch as Marvel Heroes Omega (coinciding with the launch of the console version) was the last nail in the coffin, not only did it fail to draw new players to the free-to-play action-RPG, but active player-counts tumbled sharply on PC. This week, Disney pulled the plug, announcing the dissolution of their partnership with developers Gazillion, and signalling that the servers will shut down on December 31st.

Marvel Heroes was never a great game. At its best, it still lacked that intangible spark that drove the most compelling of loot-hoarding hack ‘n’ slashers, but Gazillion put in the effort and turned things around after its wonky 2012 debut. By the time the Omega update landed, it was a consistently decent little time-waster, geared more towards spectacle and positive feedback than balance or challenge.

For a while, I really thought it was going to make it. Updates to the game were substantial, heroes came cheap and rewards were plentiful. Last I checked, I owned about half of the total roster of playable characters without ever having paid a penny. There were some warning signs that things weren’t well in Marvel-land, with the most recent content update for the game – Age of Apocalypse – being a console-exclusive launch with no mention or plans for a PC rollout.

Still, that was only two months ago, and considering that it only launched on a new platform four months ago, this announcement comes as a shock. With its day of death set in stone, I bid some early farewells to Marvel Heroes, possibly the most excessively popcorn-filled action-RPG ever made. A game where if twenty enemies weren’t flying through the air at any given moment, you were likely asleep at the keyboard. Only in Marvel Heroes, in 2017, could you play as Blade, correctly patterned after his Wesley Snipes incarnation.

This was a game where you could finally control Squirrel Girl, canonically one of the most powerful characters in the setting, and by far one of the funniest (read her comic, dammit). It even featured Rocket Raccoon, fully playable, back when he still had his original, accurate British voice. Not to say that Bradley Cooper is a bad actor, but Rocket is British, and I will brook no argument.

Marvel Heroes Omega is on Steam or available direct via Gazillion, and free to play if you want to give it one last shot before they pull the plug. Gazillion have announced that once they’ve officially shut down the storefront, the entire game – presumably with all characters unlocked – will be entirely free to play, up until the end of this sunset period, and the lights finally go out.

20 Comments

  1. MattM says:

    I played it years after launch and it was still bad. It had that MMORPG feel where you get 100 grindy tasks, a busy interface, and dull as dishwater minute to minute gameplay. The PS2 X-men and PS3 Ultimate Alliance games came out way before and played much better.

  2. ReluctantlyHuman says:

    Ugh. Not a surprise, as I’d followed their recent silence and figured something bad was coming, but I hoped it was just going to lead to some developer changes but still keep going. I know it wasn’t popular, but I didn’t mind the recent Omega update, and I’d managed to get every released character up to max level (though barely any prestiging) except for the last released character, Carnage. Ugh, I can’t believe they are going out with Carnage as their last released character.
    Salud.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Neurotic says:

    It’s a sad day, especially with the concomitant lay-offs at Gazillion. Personally though, I was more upset by the closure of its ‘kiddie’ predecessor, Marvel SHSO, back in January. That game captured the true spirit of comic-book fun, in the same way that the LEGO Marvel games do, by virtue of it being a ‘kiddie’ version that didn’t take itself so seriously.

  4. Kamestos says:

    At least we can still play Squirrel Girl in Lego Marvel.
    By the way, will RPS wot-I-think Lego Marvel 2 ?

  5. malkav11 says:

    I would argue that it was consistently great from about six months after launch onward and remains my hands-down favorite ARPG, or at least it will be until the end of the year. Unfortunately the consistent failure of sites like RPS to revisit it after its meteoric rise into actual quality left many with only the initial deservedly negative reaction to go by.

    That said, the writing was definitely on the wall after their previously blistering development pace slowed to pretty much nothing and the only major release was a separate also ran console version that was only a fraction of the PC game. The CEO having repeated sexual misconduct allegations circling him (not Brevik, the guy who replaced him) probably didn’t make Disney any more sanguine about continuing the license, either.

    • Kinsky says:

      This. I don’t know what game the author was playing; once the launch problems were fixed, Marvel Heroes quickly became everything Diablo 3 should have been, plus superheroes – and then only continued to expand. The F2P model was very fair, as Gazillion was constantly giving things away. The min/max grind was a bit droll for me, as in any other game, but it was hard to run out of things to do in that game as the hero roster was constantly being expanded and improved, and they were much more than flavors – especially later in its life, just about every character had a unique and compelling feel, even ones that would seem similar at first blush (e.g. Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange). The visual design was great too, and the voice acting was excellent. Then Brevik left and it all went to shit in a hurry. In retrospect, given Marvel’s awful business model and almost universally poor standards of quality, it’s a miracle Heroes managed to be as good as it was for as long as it did. RIP.

  6. davebo says:

    I put over 5k hours into the game, which I had never done before and don’t intend to again. It was imperfect to say the least, but it was a fun loot game, nice to play with friends and you didn’t have to spend much on it if you didn’t want to. I’ll miss it when it’s gone but the writing has been on the wall for a while now so this is hardly unexpected.

    FYI they lowered the price of every item in the store to 50G, and are giving everyone 1,000G per day until close, so if you ever just wanted to run around with a particular hero in a particular costume, feel free to jump back on and grab them along with a ton of boosts.

  7. monstermeal says:

    My friend and I gave this the ol’ gamer try and put in an hour or two one night. Basically if a game doesn’t grab us in that time then it’s probably not going to and, yeah, it failed to. Sadly.

    This took inspiration from the right places but failed to make a case for itself. Diablo 3 is something I’ve poured many hours into. I also fondly remember the old Marvel RPGs from PS2/Gamecube. This just didn’t quite nail any of that stuff.

  8. peterako1989 says:

    maybe if they introduce lootboxes the game could be saved.

    • malkav11 says:

      I assume you are joking, but for the record the fortune cards were basically loot boxes and those have been in all along.

  9. KidWithKnife says:

    Sad news, I used to really like this game. The writing’s been on the wall for a while though.

  10. skyturnedred says:

    They should focus their efforts on X-Men Legends or Marvel Ultimate Alliance sequels.

  11. geldonyetich says:

    I wonder if there’s talent enough left at Gazillion to make it play offline. It was never much of an MMORPG, which is why it didn’t really fill the craving that City of Heroes left for me, but as a Superhero-themed Diablo it was textbook.

    • malkav11 says:

      It actually has multiplayer pretty intrinsically baked into the design. Quite aside from all the free to play hooks (and while it’s not aggressive about that stuff, there is a lot of it), the majority of the story areas, the patrol zones, X-Defense, the raids, the holo-sim, the Danger Room, pretty much all designed to either have other players ambiently in them helping with boss fights and such or actively be played in teams. There are a number of support-oriented powers. Costumes, of course, are pretty pointless in a singleplayer game. And so on. I doubt they could convert all that to a balanced, fun singleplayer experience in the brief window they have remaining.

      But more important than all that – the game is closing down because they lost the Marvel license. They couldn’t make a singleplayer version available without that license.

      Now, could Gazillion maybe take the codebase and do a complete retheme? In theory, if they had the finances to keep operating long enough, which they probably don’t, and if they had a hook as good or better than the Marvel license, which clearly wasn’t enough to keep this going…but I can’t imagine what that would be. (Apart from DC, but Sony already has that sewn up.) The license is a huge part of the appeal.

  12. Unclepauly says:

    What’s with all the posts saying the exact same quote? (the writings been on the wall) About a quarter of the posts have that exact quote. Hivemind again?

  13. fiendling says:

    Sad news but clearly the inevitable outcome if you were active in the game and its forums.

    I happily spent almost 700 hours on this game over 4+ years. It’s my favourite free to play game to date.

    I have played both the free to play darlings as well. Neither Path of Exile nor Warframe managed to hold my attention for any significant amount of time.

  14. Herring says:

    Though I haven’t played this for the last couple of years, it’s STILL the 3rd or 4th most played game in my Steamlist which says something.

    It was generally fun but the thing that kept me at it was the absolutely spot on teleportation for Nightcrawler.

    So much fun bamfing all over the screen with no cool-down or resource limits leaving sulphurous purple smoke everywhere.

    Awesome fun :D

  15. solymer89 says:

    Consoles, the redheaded step-legion to pc gamers…

  16. bowookas says:

    What ? Why ? I still have fun and joy with this. PLEASE… PLEASE… All people or robot in charge don’t shutdown the MARVEL HEROES OMEGA. Just update and increase the marketing. I make friends with the heroes. Its been couple or some years.

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