Marvel Heroes: Cash Shop Woes
If fan-favorite characters continue to be gated behind exorbitant prices, Marvel Heroes will end up in that ever-growing pile of uninstalled F2P games.
Being a gamer from within the game industry provides an interesting, if not often unfortunate, dichotomy. On one hand, I understand the money that goes into creating large-scale games, and I know just how little the average worker bee makes in the world of game development. On the other, as a consumer, I want to squeeze as much value out of my own money as I possibly can. To that end, I’ve had to do a lot of soul searching with Marvel Heroes.
From the moment Marvel Heroes launched (earlier if you count the beta testers) forums were filled with threads about the cost of purchasing heroes and costumes. While some heroes sit at the often quoted ‘more reasonable’ $5-10 range, several of the most iconic heroes are as high as $20. This doesn’t include their costumes (an additional $10-20ish) and their personal storage tab. Currently the store is down but if I remember correctly, the latter tacks another $5 onto the bill and yes, you will want that storage at some point. Several separate base crafting supplies require 3 of each to craft into a higher tier, all of which you need. This is not including rare crafting drops from dailies, X-Genes, artifacts, etc. – you’ll be out of room before you’re done with your first character, let alone several.
It adds up very quickly, which is the cause of complaint and concern. In Marvel’s own forums, Steam forums, GameFaqs, Gamespot, Kotaku, so on and so forth are threads and comments brimming with upset over the item mall pricing. But on that same note, there are a fair amount just as quick to defend Marvel Heroes, and they also have a very valid point.
Marvel Heroes is completely free. No gated content whatsoever, and they elected to allow the purchase of specific heroes at player request rather than game’s prior randomized token system. Further, supposedly one can earn additional heroes and items in-game as well. I emphasize ‘supposedly’ because after completing the game with Storm and grinding 6 levels’ worth of dailies, I’ve yet to get either. I’ve seen others more fortunate than I earn heroes however, and my last attempt at dailies earned my companion a costume for his Wolverine. Clearly it does happen, and with Marvel Heroes live for less than a week, one’s expectations must be realistic.
Despite being unfortunate with drops, I was gifted 3 free heroes throughout the course of the game; one to start with, one for finishing the tutorial, and one for completing the campaign. Keep in mind, these aren’t underclass freebies; Storm, Scarlet Witch and the Thing are who I’ve had the pleasure of using so far, and they are more than competitive with their cash shop counterparts both in power and glitz.
As usual, I end up somewhere in the middle of the debate. I am perfectly okay with hero and costume drops being rare. Nevermind the ‘this is a business’ spiel; if I like the game, I want to help support it. That said, I don’t understand the huge pricing disparity in Marvel Heroes’ current hero line-up. It’s assumed they intend to profit well from heroes offered at a lower price, such as the selection of $5-10 heroes. It’s business, if they didn’t think they could earn an income from these heroes, they wouldn’t be an option. Why then the significant cash gate in acquiring fan-favorites like Spider-Man? And worse, is this indicative of what the future holds for other heroes?
Where F2P cash shops are concerned, I actually choose to approach the game as a P2P, except in place of a sub fee, I spend a comparable amount in the store. Generally, I actually prefer this model, I like the freedom in picking and choosing what I want/want to grind for vs. what I’d prefer convenience handle for me. This changes should I ever feel taken advantage of. For $20, I’d expect the hero and at least one of their costumes to allow gear versatility, a necessity considering the stats that can be crafted into them. As it stands, I can’t justify the expense.
For now, I content myself with the heroes I gained through gameplay and the Phoenix package I purchased for $20 back when you did indeed get more for your money, earning me two heroes (Jean Grey and Cyclops), one additional costume for each and a storage tab. There’s a good chance I’ll also be purchasing most, if not all, of the cheaper heroes little by little, month by month.
If more heroes end up in that $20 category however, and I continue to see my favorites (I’m looking at you, Emma) gated behind crème de la crème prices, that trickle flow of my cash will halt entirely, and Marvel Heroes will end up in that ever-growing pile of uninstalled F2P games.