[Community] Why the Marvel Heroes Store Change Matters

Last week MMO Fallout reported on Gazillion Entertainment reducing the price of storage by 50% and refusing to reimburse people who had already made purchases. I’ve seen a lot of discussion on this, both for and against the decision, and I wanted to discuss why this is a topic that needs attention.

First off, let me qualify that whenever the term refund or reimbursement is brought up in this article I’m strictly speaking in terms of cash shop currency. I’m not suggesting, nor do I think many would expect, Gazillion to hand out hundreds of one or two dollar refunds over the PSN. In the grand scheme of things, Gazillion could have easily run a check to see who had purchased the storage upgrades and set the system to place the G’s back in their wallet, or just grant them extra storage for the equivalent new price. But they didn’t.

Gazillion is obligated to do something for its early backers, not because it’s written into law but because of how Marvel Heroes is being marketed and sold to consumers. I’ve seen a lot of people comparing this to buying a product and then complaining when it goes on sale, a comment which I have to say is wrong on two levels. First, this isn’t a normal product that you buy from a store. It’s a digital good that you’re buying for an as of yet unreleased video game. The cost didn’t come down because of a sale, but because Gazillion made some adjustments and found the price to be too high based on user feedback. As a short second, most stores will reimburse you if an item you bought goes on sale shortly after.

This calls back to an issue that we’ve talked about for years: Developers deciding that open beta now means soft launch, allowing them to effectively launch the game and monetize it while claiming immunity from strong criticism because it’s just a beta. You can’t have it both ways without risking trust issues with your customer base, which is why the first thing that most developers do when they launch a game these days is hammer down the cash shop. It may seem like priorities in the wrong place, but it stops moments like this from happening.

Another point I’ve seen come up is on the idea of products coming out and immediately going on sale. Yes, that does happen and it is not received positively by the customer base for whom it becomes a reason to not trust the developer/publisher. While it may not be particularly egregious, you risk burning out customers early because what you’re telling them is that you don’t have your stuff in order, and you’re willing to make them foot the bill for it. It’s the new form of old developers who sold long subscription times on the premise that they would never go free to play, only to make liars out of their PR people.

Otherwise I have no opinion on the matter.

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