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Why Marvel: Contest of Champions' top players are threatening to walk away

Kabam could be set to lose a substantial source of their revenue from the game
Why Marvel: Contest of Champions' top players are threatening to walk away

A recent update to Kabam's megahit Marvel: Contest of Championshas caused a huge backlash from players, and the game is now dropping down the top grossing ranks.

The update nerfed a number of heroes to create a more level playing field, making top-level champions weaker to encourage players to try other characters. It also switched from using absolute figures to percentages, a move that proved confusing for players.

In response to the backlash, Kabam apologised for the changes, saying that "in this update we tried to do a lot, and we didn't work with you, our community, on how these changes would impact you".

The update came shortly after the news that South Korean publisher Netmarble had acquired the Vancouver developer, a number of other teams and the Kabam games label.

A new update is now being developed for Contest of Champions that should fix some of the changes, according to Kabam.

But some members of the community don't believe the studio.

Sabotage

Speaking to PocketGamer.biz, high-level player Rich Davis, known in the game as The Living Tribunal, says that the changes were entirely intentional and are building up to something even bigger.

Davis says that the update reduces the effectiveness of every playable champion, as well as features such as parrying and champion utilities. This essentially makes end-game battles impossible to complete, he claims.

"Kabam wants to completely dull down all of our efforts achieved by our mastery set ups, and dull down all champs to set the stage for 'Gear'," says Davis.

'Gear' is another in-app purchase that will improve a champion's stats when equipped. The alliances are therefore claiming that Kabam has nerfed every champion in the game in order to force players to make further in-app purchases.

"They have milked us for as much money as possible in terms of mastery set ups, so they are now resorting to completely changing the physics of the game which have been there for two years," says Davis.

“They don't understand that these top 1,000 alliances, 50% of their revenue, are just about ready to quit altogether.”
Rich Davis

There is evidence to support this found in the China mainland edition of the game. China-based players who have joined the boycott claim that similar nerfs were introduced in an update just before Gear was added to the game.

"No one is willing to follow down the road of the Chinese mainland version, not even the Chinese who joined us," adds Davis.

Tanked

The boycott could be have a real tangible, negative impact for Kabam - Davis claims that the top 1,000 alliances account for 30,000 high-level players, who he reckons generate over 50% of all the game's revenue.

It is already having an effect on the grossing ranks. On iOS in the United States, the game has dropped to rank 38 on the overall grossing chart, its lowest point since January 12th 2015.

<em>Marvel: Contest of Champions'</em> top grossing ranks from December 10th 2016 to March 8th 2017. The update was released on March 6th.
Marvel: Contest of Champions' top grossing ranks from December 10th 2016 to March 8th 2017. The update was released on March 6th.

This may not look like much now, but if the game continues on its downwards trend, it could fall out of the top 50 altogether. Davis believes that the game is going to "tank" completely unless Kabam changes the game.

"They don't understand that these top 1,000 alliances, 50% of their revenue, are just about ready to quit altogether," he says.

Making changes

Kabam appears to be taking the threat seriously - it's currently running a series of blog posts detailing changes it will be making to the update. Blocking and parrying are being improved, and heroes are being rebalanced.

Two game modes are currently inactive due to the updates as well, and Kabam is looking to extend the amount of time players have to use specific items affected by the modes. It will also be gifting items back to players once the patched update goes live.

Whether this will sway the boycotters is yet to be seen. Rebalancing the game is one thing, but with concerns looming around the introduction of 'Gear', Kabam could still struggle to persuade its top players to stick with it.