Marvel Heroes 2016: a new dawn for Gazillion's reinvigorated comic MMO

Marvel Heroes Age of Ultron team

David Brevik, CEO at Gazillion, has always been pretty open about the poor state of Marvel Heroes when it launched in 2013. “The game launched before it was ready and it wasn’t very good,” he says, bluntly. But, like the heroes in the pages of the comics his game draws from, he wasn’t going to give up in the face of hardship. “We got bad reviews but we really wanted to make this work, so we did a bunch of things to change the way that the games was.” Admittedly one of the lesser-heralded super powers…

And so began Brevik and Gazillion’s own heroic saga: rescuing their superhero MMO from the depths of Metacritic and helping it soar up Steam’s ‘most played’ list. It’s a journey Brevik claims couldn’t have been undertaken without the fans: “The biggest thing is that we really got involved in the community. We got their opinions and worked with them to improve the game. They told us the things that they wanted to see, the things that they had problems with.”

A combination of community feedback and weekly patches helped transform Marvel Heroes into a much more accomplished game. Realising how far they’d come, Brevik had the game rebranded as Marvel Heroes 2015 in order to advertise the fact that this was a true rebirth, and hopefully attract new players and re-reviews. It worked. “It was very successful for us; it raised our Metacritic score to 81.” 

Marvel Heroes Age of Ultron Hulkbuster

Of course, the huge phenomenon that Marvel’s movies have evolved into over the last half-decade certainly helped. “Guardians of the Galaxy was coming out a few months later [after the relaunch] and with the better reviews and the push from the movie we really saw numbers start to rise,” says Brevik. “Our biggest month was May when the Avengers: Age of Ultron came out. We had more players that month than ever before.”

Marvel’s movies have become inescapably huge. That doesn’t just mean good news for Marvel Heroes when it comes to gaining people’s interest; it’s also fantastic for in-game content. “I think that the movies are definitely very important for us, and we do focus on them. For instance, last month Ant Man was the new playable hero, and a couple of months ago we made a bunch of stuff for the Age of Ultron movie,” explains Brevik. “[the movies] will continue to be a big portion of what we do.” 

Two Marvel movies are released each year, but when it comes to comics, the House of Ideas kicks out dozens of issues every month. The continued dynamic flow of the Marvel Universe is what really drives Marvel Heroes the most. “We’re very much comic people and so there are a lot of comic events that we tie into,” says Brevik. “There are a whole bunch of things that are happening in the comics that we make as a big part of the game as well. I’d say that comics are about two thirds of our content and movies are the other third.” 

Marvel Heroes 2016 update

The comics are doing much to inform what comes next. And that, as you may well know (or have deduced, if you have a strong grip on the Gregorian calendar) is Marvel Heroes 2016. With the massive effect that the 2015 re-brand brought, Brevik intends to revamp the game again, similar to how sports games do their yearly installments. “It’ll be much bigger than a normal update. We’ve saved some stuff up throughout the year that we can show off!” he says. 

If you are a fan of Marvel’s comic output, prepare to get excited: characters from All New, All Different Marvel (the comics’ current ‘phase’) will be making appearances, including Jane Foster’s Thor and Spider-Gwen. The Skrulls - a race of shape-shifting aliens - have invaded the planet in the new tenth chapter of the game’s story campaign. They bring with them new bosses, including Super Skrull Kl’rt - who possesses the powers of the Fantastic Four - and the War Skrull, who has some X-Men abilities. “He’s got Cyclops’ visor, Wolverine’s claws, Colossus’s metal skin, etc,” says Brevik. Presumably Beast’s blue fur was a step too far…

Elsewhere, Gazillion are focusing on user experience improvements. “Leaderboards are coming, and we’re doing them a lot differently,” says Brevik. “We’re making them broad audience leaderboards so that you don’t have to play 24/7 to compete. We’re going to be much friendlier than that, with real short-session leaderboards, good rewards - things like that.”

The game’s inventory is in need of an overhaul, and Brevik is on the case: “We’re going to improve the inventory system that allows you to customize your stash tabs, label them differently and sort them and move them around and customize icons and things like that.”

Marvel Heroes 2016 Spider-Gwen

Alongside these improvements will be controller support, and a graphical overhaul that will increase the fidelity of the heroes. Steam Achievements are finally being added, and the Mac version will exit beta. It’s a big set of changes, proving this year’s branding is much more than just changing the number in the title. 

Like the 2015 change though, Marvel Heroes 2016 is just the start of a new season of updates. “I think that we will continue to roll out new heroes often. We’re at a hero a month right now. Each one plays very different as a new character class. We’ll continue to do a lot of that,” says Brevik. “We’ll have new raids to participate in. In fact there’s going to be a new raid probably this winter that involves a major moment. We’ll continue to tie into the movies and have up to date content with them.”

Continuing this way does rely on one crucial external factor: that the superhero bubble doesn’t burst. Marvel is never going to go away, but if audience fatigue sets in, will there be enough interest beyond the hardcore fans? Brevik doesn’t see it as an issue, believing that love will simply live on. “The fact is these stories have been around a long time,” he says. “They’ve always been really good but they’ve never really been given the right production value or taken seriously. I think now that that is really coming into it’s own and there’s so much money being made on these things that I don’t really see the bubble really bursting any time soon.”

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Jenks avatarmundox avatarGamaRageRampage avatar`ballistic_z=o avatarParralax avatarWiltedCarrot avatar+3
Jenks Avatar
344
Jenks(55 minutes played)
2 Years ago

"Alongside these improvements will be controller support"

Sounds like I'll finally have to give this one a try.

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`ballistic_z=o Avatar
31
`ballistic_z=o(22 days played)
2 Years ago

yep controller support on it's way.

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GamaRageRampage Avatar
2
GamaRageRampage(26 days 13 hours played)
2 Years ago

Best game I've ever played. I use to play D2 and dream about a marvel version. So far its a dream come true! Thank you everyone at Gaz for all you do!

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mundox Avatar
13
mundox(4 days 5 hours played)
2 Years ago

Can't wait for the update, I have been playing a lot waiting for Diablo 3 2.3 and I'm loving it.

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WiltedCarrot Avatar
2
2 Years ago

"Steam Achievements are finally being added"

I finally have a reason to reactivete Steam overlay!

"I don’t really see the bubble really bursting any time soon"

I'd take those words back, Mr. Brevik. The tech companies of the 2000's thought the same thing...

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Parralax Avatar
1
2 Years ago

They're relaunching for the second year running, meanwhile their devs are silencing anyone that complains about weekly bugged events, constant Friday prime time patches and spontaneous delays and cancellation of content.

Their official forums are an actual cesspit, not because of the players, but because of biased moderation that basically bans anyone who says anything negative about the game.

They're consistently unable to balance heroes, constantly have massive issues since they rush out patches every week and longtime players are absolutely starved for content, not to mention their crafting system and ui is clunky and from 2005, and it costs literally thousands of dollars to experience everything the game has to offer.

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TribalSage Avatar
4
TribalSage(38 days 1 hour played)
3 Days ago

I'm sorry but your post is mainly bullshit and when I say mainly I mean almost every part of it lol.

First of all they are located in the United States on the West Coast and it's on Friday at 7am normally. You said Prime Time so you obviously are overseas.

I'm not sure how long you've been playing the game but delays on content happen just like any other game. When something is "spoiled" it's an ETA which is exactly that, an estimated time. What content has actually be cancelled? I can't think of anything that's actually been canceled.

As far as moderation on the forums go, yes they give you warnings for different things. If you are going to post things whining and bitching about how Gaz sucks and talking down to people then yes your post will most likely be tossed away with the trash where it belongs. All that does is fuel bullshit and toxicity which isn't needed or wanted for that matter. If you want to post something you don't like you can. People do it all the time, but they do it in a constructive way. If you do it in a mature way it stays most of the time, unless you degrade people.

They are constantly balance heroes. There are 50 heroes to do that to, so it's not an immediate fix. They do balances on heroes each week, if you actually read the patch notes and posts on the forums you would know that

Now here's a part I am sick and tired of hearing people bitch and whine about. You want content and you want them to hurry up with it and you complain about how they rush things out cause of the issues. Did it ever occur to you the content is taking longer so it has less issues on release? Gaz can't win when it comes to you or others who feel this way. No matter what they do it will be wrong as I just pointed out. They just released a new Limbo event which included a new zone. It's new content, whether you liked it or not is a different story, that's even if you played it. They are about to release the Danger Room, the next Chapter of the Story mode which includes new zones and also Hi Town Patrol Zone, these are 3 things that are coming very soon. And there still tons of stuff coming after that.

The UI and Crafting system do need work, no one argues that and most people know this, even Mr. Brevik and some of the other staff acknowledge that and that's why both are being worked on.

Now this part right here "it costs literally thousands of dollars to experience everything the game has to offer." WTF are you talking about? What do you need a thousand dollars to experience? You can earn almost everything in game without spending 1 dollar if you wanted to. There's even a chance for costumes to drop and they just added a stash tab you can purchase with ES., none of which is needed to actually enjoy or play the game.

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filosoof Avatar
1
filosoof(28 days 10 hours played)
1 Year ago

Is this written by a marketing dude from Gaz?

This game is pretty mind numbing. The only pleasure in it is feeling happy because you got your hero to the max and now your not yawning for 5 minutes to defeat a boss, but for 1 minute.

The game is constructed to earn money and ripp you off. You easy spend 500 dollars on this game in one or two years, certainly if you want this game to work. And an ingame scam is the potions, they don't work, but buy a couple of them and you pay 5 - 10 dollars per hour for playing this game. In the real world you could go to the police and report being scammed.

Personnally, I want a good functioning game, not new content that does not work and messes up the game. Or 'reparing' heroes wich lead to that you never play tjen again. Now you have to invest in another hero. This is no coincidence.

Most disturbing is that Gaz has not much respect for players/customers and employees. If you have a good reason to complain (you lost money through their fault) they just say: no one forces you to spend 1 dollar on this game. And beware, people who have spend hundred of dollars of this game, were banned with no further comment.

The superheroes of Marvel appear in this game. That's cool. But the greatest joy you get out of this game is when you find after hundreds of hours of play an unique that make the play more easy.

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WiltedCarrot Avatar
2
2 Years ago

Any other places you plan on reposting these "insightful" comments (besides here and the Marvel Heroes subreddit)?

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FlopsyPrince Avatar
1
2 Years ago

Their forum moderation is VERY heavy handed. Even quoting the devs own posts can get a post smacked.

Not a good direction for a company that relies on the good will of its customers.

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TribalSage Avatar
4
TribalSage(38 days 1 hour played)
2 Years ago

When you say heavy handed you mean they actually do what they are suppose to do and that's give warnings and ban people if necessary and moderate for posts. If you quote a dev post you don't get banned lol..

I swear some of the shit people come up with is comical.

2