Games
Published December 10, 2018

Entering Marvel Contest of Champions: Fourth Anniversary

Celebrate four years of breathtaking bouts on Battlerealm!

Marvel Contest of Champions” turns four today—an epic milestone that came about thanks to you very Marvelites!

To highlight this momentous occasion, we spoke to the team who made this incredible game possible—Bill Rosemann, Marvel Games Executive Creative Director; Gabriel Frizzera, Kabam Creative/Art Director; Dominic O’Grady, Kabam Lead Quest Designer; and Scott Bradford, Kabam Quest Designer. Learn what this game means to them, some amazing stats coming out of the Battlerealm, what the anniversary celebration entails, and more!

Before we dive right in, here's an awesome sneak of things to come! Witness the arrival of the Sentinel of the Spaceways.


Marvel.com: In a very competitive environment, Marvel and Kabam are celebrating the 4th anniversary of this hit mobile game, Marvel Contest of Champions. How does it feel seeing this game embraced by over 170M Summoners for this long!

Bill Rosemann: Everyone on Team Marvel Games and Team Kabam are honored and thrilled that so many Summoners around the world have continued to dive into Marvel Contest of Champions their daily dose of action, adventure, intrigue and epic combat for four record-setting years. It is the collective power of the Summoners – okay, and maybe some Iso-8 – that fuels this fight for the fate of the Battlerealm, and to our global family: we salute you!

Dominic O’Grady: We are constantly humbled and honoured by both the dedication and passion of our players. Working on a game of this scale is never a simple thing, but knowing that we can provide fun and excitement for so many folks keeps us energized and ever-ready to do more. Thank YOU for making these four years so amazing!

Gabriel Frizzera: To be able to entertain this many people from all over is a privilege that not many people have, so we never take it for granted. This little game has become such a huge part of my life, but it never feels like a job, even after all this time. If I could tell the 9-year-old me that I would be doing this for a living he would be high-fiving me so hard right now, so I am thankful for having the opportunity.

Marvel.com: Let’s head down memory lane. What were some of your first memories working on building out Contest? And over the past four years, your proudest moments?

Bill Rosemann: My favorite memories from four years ago are of meeting and instantly bonding with the tremendous team at Kabam, especially Gabe Frizzera, my long-lost Brazilian brother from another mother. Gabe is a card carrying True Believer that, like many of us, grew up reading and being inspired by the classic comics of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Romita, John Buscema and the rest of the fabled Marvel masters. To be able to work hand-in-hand with him and the entire Kabam team, who live and breathe the Contest, pouring endless hours of effort, sweat and love into the game, is a true honor that we will always cherish.

Dominic O’Grady: Early on I got the opportunity to work on Quests, and I’m happy to say that four years later I’m still going strong there. One of the first things I ever built was actually the 2014 Holiday quests, but my most standout memory is working on the original version of Ultron’s Assault, our Age of Ultron tie-in. It set so much of the groundwork for how we’d develop event quests in the game going forward, but it was also such an exciting quest to develop and write with all the hype of the movie going on. That’s why it’s extra special to me that we recently re-released Ultron’s Assault with a new difficulty, so players old and new can see it again!

Scott Bradford: Oh boy… It’s honestly crazy to think about it! I haven’t been on the game for the whole run (I joined a little over a year after the game launched) but we’ve done so much in that time. I think my best memory thus far was being given the opportunity to write both of our Infinity War quests. These characters and especially that story is so precious I wanted to do it justice. Hopefully we did that, and I look forward to revisiting it when Avengers: Endgame comes out. I would also add attending New York Comic Con to this! Nothing is more creatively invigorating than seeing that many people so hungry for more of the stuff you love building. I got back from New York simultaneously more exhausted and amped up than I’ve ever been, it was like taking a sleeping pill with a double shot of espresso.

Gabriel Frizzera: There’s so many cool moments in the last four years. Creating the original characters, being able to tell an evolving story that is enjoyed by so many around the world… And as much as this may sound corny, even coming to the office every morning to solve everyday creative challenges involving many of the characters I loved for so long. Four years might be a long time for some, but for me it passed really fast, and I still feel like we’re just getting started.

Marvel.com: How many fights have actually happened in the past four years?

Scott Bradford: More than the amount of people Thanos snapped out of existence (too soon?). The real answer is over 59 billion. With a B. That’s crazy. Last year it was 39 Billion, so Summoners are definitely picking up the pace!

Dominic O’Grady: Next step: Calculate the total damage done in those 59 billion fights.

1:09

Marvel.com: What’s been incredible is how easy it is for new players to jump right in along with tons of new events, characters and features for long-time players to dig deep into. Was accessibility a key factor in developing this game?

Scott Bradford: Simple answer: yes. More complex answer: we have so many dedicated and veteran players that we definitely do build content for them, but we know that the Marvel brand is powerful and always attracts new players so we make sure there’s always something exciting for them to play. One of the things we love about The Contest is how simple and immediately enjoyable it is to pick up and play, and how deceptively deep and complex it is as you grow your roster and get better at the game!

Dominic O’Grady: We also try not to rest on our laurels here, and we’re always looking at ways to make the new player experience smoother, from small tweaks to big overhauls. As a game gets bigger and more complex, it can become really daunting for a new player to hop in, and we always want The Contest to feel as inviting as possible.

Marvel.com: Give us FOUR reasons why EVERYONE should be joining us in the Battlerealm.

Bill Rosemann: Aegon, the Contest’s latest all-new original champion! Night Thrasher, the skateboarding vigilante! Darkhawk, the cosmic bird of prey! And more cool characters to come!

Scott Bradford: Fun. Surprise. Challenge. Community.

Gabriel Frizzera: I see what you did there, Scott. In all seriousness, there’s one reason above all: Marvel Contest of Champions is the World’s Greatest Mobile Game, and will be be for a very long time!

Dominic O’Grady: Deadpool, Venompool, Goldpool, X-Force Deadpool.

Marvel.com: Speaking of new content, do we have any events and rewards lined up to celebrate this momentous anniversary?

Scott Bradford: Of course! Like previous years, we’ll be giving all Summoners special titles based on the amount of time they've been with The Contest. Also like previous years all Summoners will get a 20% boost to Gold, XP, and Battlechip earnings for the Anniversary week. On top of the things we normally do, every Summoner will also be receiving a message containing some free goodies, will be able to purchase items in the store at a discounted price, and will be gaining access to our popular Halls of Healing and Halls of Fortune quests for crazy amounts of free Gold, Potions and Revives!

Marvel.com: What goes in to fleshing out new Champions, storylines and mechanics?

Bill Rosemann: When it comes to creating new Champions and storylines, we spend hours discussing everything from gameplay to powers to suit design to personality to dialogue. We know everything we create must be worthy of the Marvel name, be as cool as everything the team has delivered in the Contest so far, and also meet the expectations of our worldwide Summoners. Luckily, we love nerding out over all of these elements, so for us it’s fun!

Scott Bradford: I bet our Producers could look and give you an accurate estimate of the actual time spent but it’s a lot. This is actually a complicated question! Speaking for our Champion Design team, the design of Champions has to do 3 things: They need to fit into the ecosystem of our game based on the Class wheel we have, their powers need to translate into abilities within the game, and those two things should work together to make you feel like you are that Champion when you play them. It sounds simple but sometimes it’s a real challenge.

Mechanics in games are so broad but for us, they always emerge when we set out to accomplish a goal. If our goal is to make a crazy boss fight to celebrate the launch of Infinity War, and we don’t think we can do that using the things already in the game, we make a new Thanos with new mechanics. If we want to create a place where friends can play without the pressure of joining a whole Alliance, we’ll introduce Infinity Dungeons like we did this year. We always want to push our game forward and introducing or expanding on mechanics is a great way to do that.

When it comes to storylines, you’ll hear us say it in the art book a lot, but it is 100% all about the characters. When we craft stories, I think we consider a lot of different things: Where does this fit into the larger narrative we’re crafting? How does this highlight the new characters this month? Does this do justice to the source material? All of that goes into the stories we tell, but ultimately it’s about surprise and delight. Hopefully we can keep doing that for another 4 plus years!

Marvel Contest of Champions - 4th Anniversary Poster


Marvel.com: For new Summoners who are looking to get in on all the action, any recommendations on which Champions should they be rounding out their roster with? Or which ones have emerged as fan favorites?

Scott Bradford: Start with your favorites! First and foremost, our game is about collecting your favorite Champions from the Marvel Universe. Lots of people will tell you you need this and that Champion, but early on, and even as you go, it’s about who you love. Second: get Blade. I’m only (half) kidding actually. There’s lots of underrated Champions in The Contest! Taskmaster is a silent killer, Morningstar (our original creation) might end up being my third Max Ranked 5-Star Champ, and Sabretooth can unleash tons of damage while also being Immune to Iceman’s deadly Coldsnap ability.

Dominic O’Grady: I personally favour Champions with damage-over-time debuffs, so I’m big on Gwenpool, Archangel, and Doctor Voodoo. Scott’s right though, your favourite Champion is always the best choice. Mine is the Civil Warrior!

Marvel.com: We know what keeps fans coming back for more, but what are your personal favorite characters matchups and/or events you’ve had the past four years?

Bill Rosemann: As big of fans as we all are of the classic characters, there’s a special thrill to adding new heroes and villains to Marvel’s rich roster, so being given the chance to introduce Civil Warrior, Guillotine, Morningstar and Aegon will always remain a highpoint.

Scott Bradford: My absolute favorite character to write is Drax. Every time I get to throw him in there it’s an absolute joy, so our Guardians event was so fun for me. I am also unabashedly proud of helping create the “bromance” between Howard the Duck and Hyperion. On the game side of things, myself and Dominic worked on the Trials of the King Quests during the release of Black Panther, and I loved interpreting the lore of Wakandan leadership rituals into a game mode. We were really happy to see our players respond strongly to it as well.

Gabriel Frizzera: I have many favourites, but I love when we get to go big and play with very large cosmic themes, but be personal at the same time. I am really proud with what we did with the “Young Elders’ Tale”, where we got to tell a story about the early years of the Collector and The Grandmaster’s relationship, and how they became bitter enemies after being so close. That story is an example of what makes Contest special: yes, at the surface is about Super Heroes beating each other, but it’s also a grand cosmic/social experiment. We plant a lot of seeds, and in 4 years they have had time to grow strong with the human Marvel sauce that we love so much.

Dominic O’Grady: Ultron’s Assault may have been my first and most memorable quest to work on, but on the whole nothing will ever be as fun to make as Deadpool’s Deadpool’s Deadpooloza, By Deadpool. The sky is really the limit with the Merc with a Mouth is involved, and it lets us do strange and creative things we wouldn’t normally be able to act on. Deadpooloids, anyone?

Marvel.com: Using only four words, can you give us a taste of what’s to come for the fourth year and beyond?

Bill Rosemann: More, bigger, cooler surprises!

Scott Bradford: We’re just getting started.

Gabriel Frizzera: The Maestro isn’t dead.

Dominic O’Grady: More Spider-Man variants, please.

Celebrate four years of epic storytelling and art with "Marvel Contest of Champions: The Art of the Battlerealm," available wherever books are sold tomorrow, Tuesday, December 11! More details and insight to come!

Happy fourth birthday to “Marvel Contest of Champions,” and stay tuned to Marvel.com as well as @MarvelGames on Twitter for more news and interviews!