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:

via GIPHY

  • ShelvsHotPencil

    Interesting, they could really bring changes in the iOS community. But I got stock with this free to play complaints. I guess it's better than super submissive players.

  • sivad

    This is why Trump won....

  • Dave

    play a garbage P2W freemium game, you get what you deserve IMO.

  • spawn12345

    Netmarble destroying marvel games since future fight!

    What a shit company

    • rhljk14

      Completely disagree. Some people still like Future Fight and they definitely didn't "ruin Marvel".

      • rhljk14

        Sorry "destroy Marvel" games.

  • curtneedsaride

    I despise these games' tactics of parting people with their money. But I'm proud of a community who WANTS to spend their money in that fashion, and won't just allow the developer get away with even worse tactics. Thank goodness I'd much rather play Final Fantasy VII or Dragon Quest VIII or even LEGO Marvel on my phone. Makes for a somewhat less expensive hobby.

    "It has also left many feeling wrong-footed, having previously invested up to tens of thousands of dollars in now-redundant content."

  • Riddip

    Dont pay for f2p games, problem solved.

    " It has also left many feeling wrong-footed, having previously invested up to tens of thousands of dollars in now-redundant content."

    Man, wtf 💸💸💸

    • http://www.deltaattack.com/ Fade to Slack

      One of the keys to these games is a sense of community, which is why they always end up having some sort of guild feature. If people feel like the game is creating an unfair gap because of monetization, then people leave the game.

      It's silly to spend that much, but to dismiss this is to dismiss an entire segment of the market that you don't understand. Most paid experiences on mobile don't have the community sense and/or competition that some people simply crave.

  • Anova

    This is actually quite reminiscent of Draw Something's spectacular collapse. The combination of new owners and harsh monetization really seems to give people a reason to bail.

  • eksaint

    I love the idea of people banding together to hopefully have an impact but:

    It has also left many feeling wrong-footed, having previously invested up to tens of thousands of dollars in now-redundant content.

    Are you fu!king kidding me? Is this legit? Do people really spend this much on f2p? That's obscene

    • MYLOkai

      Yep. I have friends that are about 13-14k in on clash royale for example. They have the money though so why not? Most I've done is $1000 on rage of bahamut but I was able to sell my cards and make back most of that.

  • visualplayer

    People spend this much on gambling which is the essence of 'free to play' since so many of the paid options pay out randomly.

    I stopped MCOC a long time ago - doesn't seem to have improved.

  • Styrixa

    news.google doesn't have much on this as a story. Touch Arcade is the top link of only two! I'm surprised some standard news-source isn't covering this story, like CNET or something. Maybe they are but boycottmcoc is not turning up right now on a news.google search.

  • Hblanton

    Bait and switch scam! Take this game OFF the AppStore.

  • Kascammed

    As a longtime Marvel fan, it's disappointing that Netmarble/Kabam is damaging the Marvel brand and diminishing the very characters that Marvel is trying bring to life on the big screen. For instance, they absolutely destroyed the value of Doctor Strange in Marvel Contest of Champions, unleashing a flood of comments in the gaming community about how awful he is. I'm sure that's not what Marvel wants when licensing their IP to game companies and coordinating marketing campaigns with them. Players are irate that they've spent literally MILLIONS on in-game purchases building their teams of champions in MCOC, only to have them rendered worthless by Kabam's most recent update. The whole point of a game is to have fun, and Kabam has taken away just that. And to show you how many people have requested refunds, Apple has recently stopped giving them to the players that are abandoning the game in droves, instead directing them to speak to Kabam. I guess they no longer stand behind the game that is still labelled "Editors' Choice" in their App Store. Apple and Marvel, please do right by your devoted fans and customers and put pressure on Kabam to do right by their players, or give them their money back. -- Kascammed

  • windsagio

    This deserved a spokesman?