X-Hero and Epic Heroes have disappeared from app stores after generating $31m in player spend and 15.4m downloads. And now some players say they have not received in-game items they have paid for, and refund requests are being ignored.
Sensor Tower data says that on September 29, X-Hero, the App Store version of Bingchuan’s hit game, was the number one iPhone game in 11 countries including the US, Australia, Germany, Italy and the UK.
On iOS, the data firm estimates that the title had generated 9.3m downloads globally and had accumulated $20.2m in player spend. In September 2022 alone, it picked up 5.8m installs and earned $8.2m.
The game was called Epic Heroes on Android. On Google Play lifetime downloads stood at 6.1m, with $10.6m in player spend. In September it generated 2.8m downloads and racked up $4.7m in spend on Android devices.
A payment error message was sent to iOS players the day before the game was removed from app stores. The rest of the game remains playable if you already have it installed.
By September 30 both games, X-Hero and Epic Heroes, were removed from the App Store and Google Play. Exactly why the games disappeared is not clear, but just before the title was pulled developer Bingchuan sent X-Hero players a message stating that it was having payment problems in the iOS version.
The in-game message invites players to direct queries to its Facebook page, which features a post citing “sudden system abnormalities”. That post then directs players to a site through which users can sign into the game outside of Apple and Google’s payment systems so they can keep spending.
Many of the comments underneath the post suggest that players are getting charged for in-game items they have not yet received, and that refund requests are being ignored.
Comments, edited for clarity, include: “I wrote to customer service about this a week ago when you charged my card but it said declined and I didn’t get my stuff (the money came out of my bank) and all your customer service told me to do was contact Apple. Complete crap you didn’t even wanna help”
This image was posted on the game’s Facebook page to announce a way players could sign into the game outside of Apple and Google’s payment systems.
Another said: “Uninstall the game… Google and Apple need to ban the company. The company is deceptive, predatory and stealing content from other games.”
And finally: “WARNING: DO NOT PLAY or PAY. You can spending HUNDREDS of dollars in the game but if you request a refund for any valid reason through your many purchases such as not receiving your purchase in game, the ‘system’ will automatically permanently ban your account without any appeal. All your hard work and money poured into the game will be gone.”
As we previously reported, X-Hero shot to the top of the charts by spending big on UA campaigns built on ‘Save the doge’ physics puzzles. Once players have downloaded and played a few of these games, the ‘real’ game emerges, a hero-based auto-battler. UA expert Matej Lancaric estimated that Bingchuan was spending up to $100k a day on UA across five channels, gaining around 200-300k new installs daily at the game’s peak.
Panoramik Games has clearly been paying attention – above left you can see its X-Hero inspired rebrand on Android, and what it looks like on iOS on the right.
Still, the ‘Save the doge’ puzzles live on in near-identical form through Panoramik Games’ Mighty Party on Android, which appears to have cloned X-Hero’s approach entirely, right down to the icon and store screenshots. You can see above that the iOS game remains untouched, however.