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It’s gone, gang, and I’m so sorry.
Following the disastrous silences and accusations that unfolded over October and November, Marvel announced that it had terminated its relationship with gaming studio Gazillion and canceled MMOARPG Marvel Heroes, which was then scheduled to sunset at the end of the year.
However, on Wednesday, Gazillion employees began reporting that they’d been sent a letter by company CEO Dave Dohrmann announcing the end of Gazillion, the loss of their jobs (and some of their benefits), and a rushed end to Marvel Heroes as the bank called in its debts. The letter said the game would be shut down on Friday following an announcement, causing panic among MMO players who thought they had a bit more time. But no announcement came, and the game stayed up through the weekend.
Now, players on PC, Xbox One, and PS4 report that the game has indeed gone fully offline as of this afternoon.
Massively OP has received a credible tip from a former Gazillion employee who told us under condition of anonymity that Marvel Heroes will be over significantly sooner than Disney and Marvel previously declared.
The ex-employee says he was terminated as of today, that Gazillion is being shut down entirely, and that Marvel Heroes will sunset this coming Friday, not at the end of the year as originally announced.
The termination letter written by CEO Dave Dohrmann was shared with Massively OP and claims that banking creditors have effectively pulled the plug on the company, leading to the termination of almost every employee at the studio and the apparent renege of benefits including accrued PTO.
Whenever you see a studio call fans “passionate,” it’s almost always shorthand for “rioting with pitchforks and torches.” Guess what Star Wars Battlefront 2’s execs are calling its players this week?
DICE GM Oskar Garbrielson apologized to the game’s “passionate” community about the missteps that EA made in locking its characters behind a prohibitive grind and aggressively pushing microtransactions. He said that the team is disabling all in-game purchases with crystals, at least until the company can figure out a better way to implement them:
“But as we approach the worldwide launch, it’s clear that many of you feel there are still challenges in the design. We’ve heard the concerns about potentially giving players unfair advantages. And we’ve heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right. We hear you loud and clear, so we’re turning off all in-game purchases. We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning. This means that the option to purchase crystals in the game is now offline, and all progression will be earned through gameplay. The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game. We’ll share more details as we work through this.”
We can now confirm this as real, following a statement made by a Marvel representative to Massively OP. We’re updating below.
According to Kotaku, Disney has canceled Marvel Heroes – on all platforms – and nuked its business partnership with Gazillion. Here’s the message Kotaku says it received:
“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.”
The news will not come as a shock to MMORPG players, as we’ve been chronicling the mess over at Gazillion for weeks now. We’d gone an entire month since the last formal update from the team, social media accounts have lain dormant, Halloween was bungled, negative Steam reviews were flooding in, the PC playerbase shrunk to its smallest size in four and a half years, the Thor Ragnarok promotion never happened, two community reps for the studio departed, and accusations flew from former studio employees in regard to “inappropriate conduct” toward female employees on the part of current CEO Dave Dohrmann, whose removal from the studio became the goal of some activist players.
I’m afraid we still can’t say that Marvel Heroes is going to be OK, as we’ve now gone an entire month since the last formal update from the team.
As we’ve previously covered, Gazillion hasn’t provided its regular Friday update since October 13th; social media accounts have lain dormant, Halloween was bungled, negative Steam reviews flood in, the PC playerbase has shrunk to its smallest size in four and a half years, the Thor Ragnarok promotion never happened, two community reps for the studio departed, and accusations from former studio employees have surfaced in regard to “inappropriate conduct” toward female employees on the part of current CEO Dave Dohrmann, whose removal from the studio is now the goal of some activist players.
While Gazillion issued us a statement claiming “the company is functioning normally” (when anyone who ever played can tell you it’s not), it downplayed the standing allegations as “unsubstantiated internet accusations.” The studio also refused to answer direct questions about the company’s leadership, communication plans, and missed updates. All the company said last week was that it had no news and would update everyone when it could. Reportedly, a studio rep reiterated that statement this past weekend and told in-person visitors to stay away from the company HQ (thread now deleted).
Last night, we reported on multiple employees and former employees’ allusions to the closure of Motiga Games, the studio behind MOBA Gigantic. “Today marks the end of Motiga and my time with an absolutely amazing team,” wrote former audio lead Dan Crislip. “If anyone is hiring, we’re all looking!”
Perfect World has now responded to Massively OP with a statement on what’s going on – in fact, it’s not just Motiga affected, as apparently Runic Games is also shutting down. PWE is distancing itself from the decisions.
“Following the news that Motiga has reduced the staff of its studio, Perfect World Entertainment can confirm that as the publisher of Gigantic, the game will continue to be available on our platforms. A core team of developers remains at Motiga, who will work with us to support the game and its players, including moving full steam ahead with the upcoming November update and future content. We cannot thank everyone enough for their contributions in making Gigantic the outstanding experience it is today.”
It’s now been two weeks since we’ve had any word on the state of Marvel Heroes, as today marks the third missed Friday update in a row and Gazillion has yet to provide the information it promised on October 20th or explain why the Halloween events were neither toggled on nor promoted. The Marvel Heroes social media accounts remain without posts over that time period, negative Steam reviews are now piling up calling the game “dead,” and the PC playerbase appears to have shrunk to its smallest size in four and a half years. There’s also been no news on the Thor promotion that should sensibly be running right now in conjunction with Thor Ragnarok’s release today, nor on the new VR game the studio casually announced via the world’s most awkward stream at the end of September.
As we reported on Wednesday, two key community reps for the studio have been confirmed to have departed in the midst of the bizarre studio silence, and both overt and oblique accusations from former studio employees have surfaced in regard to “inappropriate conduct” toward female employees on the part of current CEO Dave Dohrmann, whose removal from the studio is now the goal of some activist players. Indeed, the studio’s former creative director has publicly stated that the board and company executives were aware of Dohrmann’s alleged behavior “even before they made him CEO.”
Multiple employees and former employees are tweeting tonight alluding to the closure of Motiga Games, the studio behind MOBA Gigantic.
“Today marks the end of Motiga and my time with an absolutely amazing team,” wrote now former audio lead Dan Crislip. “If anyone is hiring, we’re all looking!”
It is not clear yet what the future of the game will be and how and whether Perfect World Entertainment, which added the studio and game to its umbrella last year following multiple rounds of layoffs and financial difficulties at Motiga, will continue Gigantic’s development. As of the time of this post tonight, no official statement from either company has been issued.
We have reached out to PWE for a statement and will report back when we have it (we doubt we’ll get it before sun-up on the west coast tomorrow).
Our hearts go out to the entire team.
Something weird is going on at Gazillion.
On October 20th, the studio delayed its regular Friday Marvel Heroes update summary, promising details on Monday. Almost two weeks later, that update still hasn’t arrived, nor has the Marvel Heroes Twitter account been active, even through Halloween, traditionally a big season for the team – but there was no event at all on PC this year.
What has arrived? At least one key studio community rep leaving – Frank “Fenixion” Sanchez aka PhoenixRed, who announced yesterday he’s “made a decision to move on” – and casual posts from Gaz’s TheDink regarding Thor skins, which have thus far been announced only on the German-language PlayStation blog (update: that’s since been removed, but now it’s on the Dutch blog).
A month ago, the studio first shocked fans by casually announcing a new VR game for consoles and then frustrated PC fans by releasing a console-exclusive patch and continuing to promise to “unify” the three platforms in November. Which, you might notice, is now.
It’s really, really weird to me to think that we’re getting an announcement about a new World of Warcraft expansion next week. Admittedly, we haven’t been told the details yet, but let’s be real here: The only conclusion if we don’t get an expansion announcement is that the game is shutting down. Everything has been set up to pull that trigger, everyone’s expecting it, we all know it. And we’ve even seen rumors, datamining, and hoaxes flying about faster than you can say “someone photoshop up a Murloc in Tier 2 Warrior gear.”
Some of the speculation is, of course, complete hogwash. “The next expansion will bring back talent trees!” “The next expansion is about Jaina as a dreadlord!” “The next expansion will have Blue Mage!” But some of it is, at least, stuff that’s been hinted at. So with a week or so to go, let’s take a look at what we know is on the table as being possible, being plausible, and being reasonable.
Because World of Warcraft
ostensibly take place in the same world, the latter frequently gets to fill out the lore of the former. In Hearthstone
, for example, you get extrapolations on ideas like Gadgetzan being an actual city, or you get the Tortollan being added to the world’s lore. They’re a diminutive race of turtle-people not seen in the MMO… at least, not seen there before now
, judging by the Tortollan pet that’s been datamined in the game
Obviously, there’s no word about how you’ll get this pet, nor are there even screenshots of what it will look like. It could be a cross-promotion between the games (which seems likely as the model is encrypted), or it could be a major reward from the next expansion. But it’s in the game’s files, meaning that at least some work has been done on it. Good news for everyone whose pet collection doesn’t include enough turtles at this point.
Can we officially declare the next World of Warcraft expansion announced yet? Technically, no. But the game’s beta version testing very briefly turned to 8.0 yesterday, as screenshotted by a quick-moving Reddit user. For those of you unfamiliar with the game’s version numbers, each expansion winds up being another tick up of the main number, and thus Legion is currently 7.3. So seeing 8.0 on the beta test servers means the next expansion is likely already in the early test stages.
This all pans out to line up nicely with the planned expansion announcement at BlizzCon next month and a release in about a year (although whether or not there will be more patches for the current expansion through that year is more ambiguous). As for what the expansion will be about… well, there are tons of rumors and leaks already, but we’re going to go ahead and bet that it’s all about herding animals. Sure, it’s almost certainly wrong, but imagine how cool it would be if that’s correct.
Remember in 2016 when Daybreak split H1Z1 into two separate games, H1Z1: King of the Kill and H1Z1: Just Survive?
Remember back in August when Daybreak dropped the “H1Z1” from Just Survive’s branding, cutting loose the survival sandbox half of the original split-apart game?
And remember earlier this week when Daybreak announced a pro league for H1Z1 – without using the words King of the Kill?
Put that all together and you may be figuring that King of the Kill is about to get its own rebrand. Indeed, while it hasn’t been officially announced or confirmed, it seems backed up by a video pulled of a new splash screen on King of the Kill’s test server, which shows just the term H1Z1 by itself. Redditors are further speculating the game will finally go free-to-play, which was SOE’s original plan, though that was chucked overboard pretty early on.
Hey, while we’re making crazy predictions, maybe we can predict that the game will finally launch. Because it still hasn’t. That was slated for a year ago, but it (and its console port) was indefinitely delayed.