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Disney-owned Marvel has severed ties with game developer Gazillion Entertainment and is ending support for the free-to-play online game Marvel Heroes as a result.
Three employees of Gazillion, two former and one current, told Kotaku that the studio had additionally faced at least three quiet rounds of layoffs within a year of the game's launch.
"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," Marvel confirmed to Kotaku via email. "We would like to sincerely thank the players who joined the Marvel Heroes community, and will provide any further updates as they become available."
Marvel Heroes first launched in 2013 and saw a more successful relaunch and a slight rebranding just one year later. Just this year, the game made its way to consoles as Marvel Heroes Omega. Both that relatively new console release and the original PC version of the game are set to be discontinued as a result of Disney and Gazillion's separation.
Former Marvel Heroes creative director Jeff Donais explained to Kotaku that, during his time at the studio, an "aggressively insane" patch release schedule plagued the game and weighed on its developers.
"It was a real thing that people didn’t see their families as much as they should, or sacrificed their health to work an 80-hour week when an important patch deadline was looming," said Donais. "The patch release schedule, especially when PC was the main focus, was aggressively insane.”
One developer, speaking anonymously, said that he had lacked confidence for some time that the features he was working on at Gazillion would ever be implemented in the game. Two other developers, one current and one former, shared that several members of the Marvel Heroes dev team had been asked not to come into the office this week.
As always, if you or someone you know has been affected by layoffs, you can email Gamasutra to share your story confidentially.