The last couple of months have been a fairly sobering time where licenses are concerned. While we’re accustomed to games living forever – neglected, forgotten, but rarely dead – a spate of spent contracts have sent several to their doom. Warhammer Online didn’t make it to Christmas. And a cluster of contemporary Marvel games from Activision and Capcom – including Deadpool, not yet past its first birthday – were expunged from Steam come the new year.
It’s a zeitgeist that could leave players of Gazillion’s action RPG-slash-MMO, Marvel Heroes, understandably concerned. But a missive sent to PCGamesN this morning should put them at ease – it turns out that Gazillion have a 10 year licensing contract with Marvel.
“We’re good for a long, long time,” creative director Jeff Donais told PCGamesN.
“Gazillion will always be the Marvel Heroes studio,” said Donais in a PCGN interview before Christmas. “There may be additional Marvel games – there’s a kid’s game as well, but it’s public information that we have a ten year license with Marvel, and we have many years of content planned for Marvel Heroes.”
The MMO, which has its mechanical roots in Gazillion founder David Brevik’s time on the Diablo team at Blizzard North, shows every early sign of making it to its tenth birthday. Its player retention rate has far outreached the developers’ expectations, and Donais’ own experience.
“I’ve worked on a bunch of games over the years and we have the highest number of people who keep playing month after month,” he said. “It’s a very high percentage, higher than I’ve ever seen.”
Donais attributes this anomaly to two things: first, the rate at which Gazillion push out new features, heroes and areas to players – about once a month for a major patch, and once a week for a minor patch.
“It’s very, very quick,” said Donais. “It would take us six months at Blizzard to do something that we do in one month here, which is beautiful and insane at the same time.”
Second, Donais notes that “literally everyone” at Gazillion spends time on their forums discussing game balance and running contests for players (“It’s almost like everyone who plays feels like they’re part of the development of the game, which is pretty accurate.”).
“We’ve all played games for a couple of weeks and we liked them, but then we moved on,” he concluded “But I think we’re almost creating a world, or a little society, a little civilisation, because we keep adding more and more to the game.”
Have any of you lot stuck with Marvel Heroes? Do you think you’ll stay with it through its first decade of film-riffing escapades?