Gambit wields his powers in a "Marvel Heroes" trailer. Photo: AFP
It's Marvel's MMO, from a studio headed up by a veteran "Diablo" designer, and stars over 100 heroes and villains from Marvel's iconic cast of characters.
Newest addition to the "Marvel Heroes" selection is Gambit, first introduced to the X-Men canon in 1990, a bow-wielding tall dark stranger known for his psychokinetic powers and supercharged playing cards.
As one of around 30 optional characters available to players of the otherwise free massively multiplayer online game, Gambit represents a potential revenue stream for Marvel and the game's developer Gazillion Ent.
Players can either purchase Gambit, with two costumes and a couple of extras for $17.99, or pay using the in-game currency of Eternity Shards, which can be earned at an average rate of just over one every ten minutes played -- Gambit, along with other mid-tier heroes, costs 400 of said Shards, equating to around 54 hours' play.
Ostensibly, "Marvel Heroes" is up against Sony's licensed "DC Universe Online" and, to a lesser degree, subscription-based MMO "World of Warcraft" and fellow fantasy MMO "Guild Wars 2," which asks players to buy once and then pay for cosmetic items if they want to.
But in tapping into the heritage of "Diablo" and "Diablo II," June 2013 release "Marvel Heroes" faces stiff competition from October 2013 launch "Path of Exile."
Like the Marvel game, "Path of Exile" is entirely free to play, inviting players to demonstrate their allegiance by purchasing affordable and well-crafted cosmetic items -- sometimes darkly humorous takes on traditional fantasy weaponry -- and inhabits the same high fantasy backdrop as another New Zealand production, "The Hobbit."