Video games and internet boycotts go together even better than peas and carrots, and recently Kabam and Netmarble have found themselves in the crosshair of a surprisingly upset contingent of Marvel Contest of Champions [Free] players who are trying their hardest to organize one such boycott. In fact, the folks behind the "#BoycottMCOC Movement" are even sending out press releases and have official spokespeople who have "proven" that Netmarble will lose "millions" if they don't immediately meet their demands. I'm totally not joking, this is real:
Netmarble customers unite against changes
Survey proves: game developers face losing millions if disengagement continues
In an unprecedented move, customers are organising themselves in opposition to major changes to Kabam’s mobile game “Marvel’s Contest of Champions”, forcing Netmarble to face an immediate revolt by their new customer base. They completed the acquisition of the mobile game only last week, for an estimated $700m.
The customers are uniting as the #BoycottMCOC movement, affirming that they are not willing to make any further in-game purchases, until their concerns and objections are addressed adequately. It has already resulted in plummeting down the ranks on both Apple’s App Store, where the latest update has garnered a rating of 1 star in most territories, and the Google Play Store, where the average rating is falling on a daily basis.
Rich Davis, co-founder and spokesperson of the #BoycottMCOC movement, explains: “customers are outraged at the massive overhaul to the game’s infrastructure, which happily has not gone unnoticed by the online gaming press.”
Although the latest update to the game was intended to ensure a more level playing field for all customers, the developers’ moves have ultimately handicapped the players to the extent that substantial in-game purchases will be required to compete at even the most basic level. It has also left many feeling wrong-footed, having previously invested up to tens of thousands of dollars in now-redundant content.
“We are delighted that the top 100 alliances (player teams) in the game united to oppose this overhaul. We now also have the backing of the top 1,000 alliances, which equates to approximately 50% of MCOC’s estimated monthly turnover of $30m,” continued Mr Davis. “Each alliance is committed, among others, to minimise in-game purchases until the game’s developers address our concerns adequately.”
Each alliance consists of 30 players, giving this boycott movement in excess of 30,000 supporters, with more joining every hour. It is believed to be the first instance of customer outrage resulting in such high levels of organised opposition to an online or mobile game.
The game centres on the collection of various Marvel characters, such as Iron Man and Wolverine, and by exploring quests. In-game purchases aid the quicker acquisition of such characters, and to unlock fighting abilities, which apply to a player’s entire collection. In a veiled statement, the developers have also indicated that such abilities will soon have to be acquired independently for each individual champion, commonly referred to as ‘gears’.
Mr Davis: “most players have collected well over 100 of such characters. The investment made so far, which in some cases reaches many thousands of dollars, would then be rendered completely worthless. We believe this to be a bait-and-switch – where the products purchased have been changed after the fact. Not to mention how disrespectful it is to those that have parted with substantial sums of money!”
The developers have rarely reached out to their customer base for feedback on direction or future innovation, choosing to measure success by daily download statistics, revenues and app store ratings. The boycott movement this evening circulated a questionnaire among customers, to measure the response to these additional changes.
Within hours of circulation, 3,438 customers responded, with an overwhelming 92.8% indicating that they would not approve of these changes.
“This categorically confirms our feeling that this is not something the customer wants, much less are they willing to pay for it. With millions of dollars at stake, it has strengthened our resolve to oppose the developers’ current direction, and we will require them to commit to customer engagement for any future direction,” Mr Davis explained.
In that same survey, 73.6% confirmed that introducing ‘gears’ would lead to them quitting the game altogether. What is perhaps most striking is that it is left to the customers themselves to conduct such basic customer research.
When asked about the possible future of the game, a supporter of the #BoycottMCOC, who wishes to remain anonymous for professional reasons, responded: “the game has been a great success, because it is simple and effective. They have achieved this by being different to comparable games. By introducing ‘gears’, they are in fact changing to be more similar to other games, and at the same time disrespecting the customers that have brought them to this point. I know of literally thousands of players that will instantly leave, if they announce the introduction of ‘gears’. It seems inconceivable that they are so deaf to their customers’ needs, in this day and age.”
The dedication of their customers is clear, seeing the time, money and effort invested in both playing the game so far, and their opposition to detrimental changes to its foundation.
The game is currently ranked 18th in top grossing games and 107th in free games
The developers have already released one update, and it'll be interesting to see if they meet any further demands. Depending on how all this plays out, if any wayward MCOC fan is looking for more games to try on their phone, our hot games and top reviews are two great places to start. Meanwhile, for the sake of morbid curiosity, we're going to be keeping an eye on #BoycottMCOC, and I expect to do more than a few of these as the whole thing evolves:
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