R.I.P. City of Heroes

Since there seems to be a conversation going on in suggested MMO list, and I tend to occasionally delete comments on there, I suppose this is news that warrants being addressed.

When games shut down, it’s usually pretty expected. Luna shut down due to a poor conversion upgrade that changed many basic gameplay elements. Lego Universe got the ax due to poor publisher support and a refusal to embrace the concept of Free to Play. Pi Story was abandoned by its developer early in production, ended up wrought with lag/ framerate issues, and never got a cash shop implemented. Let’s not forget the numerous browser-based titles that come and go each year.

But this is… different.

For those of you not in the know, City of Heroes is officially shutting down in November, and Paragon Studios has been dissolved, giving the title three more months of life.

Why is this so sudden? Despite it being the oldest and original Superhero MMO, this game was very alive and well, turning a profit and previewing many features of its (originally) upcoming Issue 24. In fact several posts about upcoming features were made mere HOURS before the sudden cancellation announcement. This is not the behavior of a developer expecting “that call to the office.”

The facts, as we know them, are this:

  1.  NCSoft has cancelled CoH, and dismantled Paragon Studios.
  2.  This came midst announcements of future content.
  3.  NCSoft has lost money in the past year.
  4.  Paragon is unwilling to elaborate, and has asked the fans to accept this.

Of course the fans are NOT going to just “accept” this. City of Heroes has one of the most vocal and dedicated MMO fanbases in existence. This is the fanbase that had many people laying into me after I gave their game a POSITIVE review. They are not going to go down quietly. I honestly think fewer people would be upset if WoW was shutting down.

Rumors running around are as follows:

  • This is all an elaborate marketing scheme for the new expansion.
    They say the first two stages of grief are Disbelief and Denial, and nothing illustrates that point more than this theory. This also ties into the “bargaining” phase, where the mind tries to soothe itself by coming up with REASONS it can’t be true. But, doesn’t that seem a bit cruel? It’s not April 1st, and when was the last time someone pretended they were dying and later said, “Oh! I was just joking so you’d miss me more!” end up gaining any favor. Admit it, if this was the case, you’d be so pissed at CoH and Paragon that you wouldn’t ever trust them again.Look at this in terms of another MMO that was recently shut down, Iris Online. In Iris they claimed they weren’t going anywhere, and GMs actively told players there was nothing to worry about when even the players could tell something was amiss. Then BAM, everything is gone. There was no such “feeling” with CoH.
    Yeah, it doesn’t makes sense that a developer so excited for its future would suddenly accept its cancellation without argument, but then again, imagine how THEY feel. There is literally NOTHING they can do about it. They were an in-house team created specifically for the development of CoH after Cryptic tossed the rights over to NCSoft. Speaking of that…
  • Perfect World owns the rights to CoH’s engine and kept the renewal cost too high for NCSoft, in order to allow Champions Online to be the reigning superhero MMO.
    Now we’ve reached the point of conspiracy theory. The logic of the situation is so far out of hand that people are piecing together as many factoids as they can to try to make sense out of the nonsensical and twist as much of the facts as they can in order to greater support it. Yes, while Perfect World DOES own the rights to Cryptic, when Cryptic split from NCSoft to create Champions Online, they sold them EVERYTHING included in the CoH package. Engine included. CO was built off an entirely different engine (the same later used for Star Trek Online) and when Cryptic was LATER purchased by Perfect World, that gave Perfect World the rights to THAT engine, not CoH. I’m pretty sure there’s not an ounce of truth to that one. It’s like someone’s trying to alleviate NCSoft from this matter entirely.
  • CoH was losing money and NCSoft couldn’t continue hosting it.
    From what I understand this isn’t even close to true, but it’s the conclusion that everyone outside of the community will end up drawing. After all, think of it from an outside perspective: CoH goes Free to Play, NCSoft reports losses, NCSoft drops CoH. Seems like cause and effect, right? Well outsiders, it’s not the case. CoH WAS alive and well, and developers don’t keep making content for games that don’t make money. But when the publisher decides you need to go, you need to go. Logic be damned.
  • NCSoft lost money on the Aion F2P conversion, and cut CoH in hopes it would get players to move to Aion or Guild Wars 2.
    This… seems the most likely, as stupid as it sounds. It doesn’t make sense from any standpoint a company like PepsiCo saying “Oh, we’re not making Mountain Dew anymore. Here’s a coupon for some Naked Juice Coconut Water!” and expecting people to just grin and bear it. Yeah, you have other drinks, but not the one I came here for!
    However, you don’t know NCSoft like I know NCSoft. I said this in an episode of MMO Underground when G referred to NCSoft as “a pretty good company” referring to the quality of the games they host, when I countered with “They only reason more people don’t hate NCSoft is because Nexon still exists.” They are ON PAR with the kind of shady crap Nexon has been pulling over the years… occasionally worse.
    It would not shock me in the least to believe this rumor is true. NCSoft is first and foremost a Korean company, and Aion is a very Korean game, developed exclusively by in-house developers. CoH is something they picked up from an aspiring american developer that later left them and gave them exclusivity. In their mind, it’s a black sheep. It doesn’t flow with their aesthetic.
    If Aion was the title that failed them, Aion is still their baby, and CoH is an old, acquired title. They’re going to cut ties with the game they didn’t create, not something they built from the ground up. It’s despicable, it’s nepotism, and it doesn’t surprise me in the least. It’s not going to work, though.

CoH’s fans are entirely too dedicated to take this laying down. Again, this is the fanbase that jumped down my throat for saying “combat felt a bit slow” so they aren’t about to let some big-shot publisher just drop their thriving game like a used dustrag. While I feel that a lot of this might be for naught: here’s a few things that are being done in an attempt to keep CoH alive:

  • The petition on Change.org
    I have a firm stance among the people who believe online petitions, or petitions in general, are about as effective as trying to put out a forest fire with a bottle of Visene. The internet clings to these because they are easy. This world has  become a place where pressing a button = “doing your part”.
    Change your avatar to a cartoon character? That’ll end child abuse! Share a video about the past evils of a long defeated warlord? We gotta stop this guy! Like a candidate on Facebook? Well, he’s a lock for the presidency now!
    This doesn’t work. Plain and simple. If anything you’re only soothing your own wounds. NCSoft won’t even bat an eyelash at a paltry 10k signatures when a one minute clip of a baby biting a British toddler’s finger can nab nearly 500 million views. You’ll need at LEAST a million for them to stand up and take notice. However, if you do want to get this petition to a more respectable total, at least to say your piece before it’s sent, the link is here: http://www.change.org/petitions/ncsoft-keep-ncsoft-from-shutting-down-city-of-heroes#
  • Boycott of NCSoft
    Again, this isnt’ going to make an impact. Regardless of their probable hope that you’d migrate to another NCSoft title, I highly expect that they are completely willing to lose you as a customer. The psychotic religious fervor over Guild Wars 2 that I mentioned in my Sidequest ensure that NCSoft as a company isn’t going anywhere. The chop was nothing more than a way to gain back some money they lost by not having to pay a group of people for their services. When corporations start feeling the pinch (often times the “pinch” is “can’t afford the fuel on my 5th jet”) they cut their labor force. Not because it’s the best idea, or the trouble came from their works, but because it’s easy. It’s the quickest way to recoup your losses, despicable as the practice may be, but horrible companies don’t care about people. The don’t care about their workforce, and they certain don’t care about YOU, as bad as this sounds. It’s the bottom line, plain and simple, and they are willing to deal with all the other consequences. Feel free to stop buying their products if this is a matter of personal principle, nothing more. Don’t bother if you think it’s going to somehow make a huge impact on their precious bottom line.
  • Physical letter campaign to NCSoft headquarters.
    NOW we’re getting somewhere. As stated in this post, the corporate world is trained to deal with the onslaught of social and electronic media. It’s as simple as posting a filter on your inbox that weeds out anything that contains the words “City of Heroes” and sending it directly to their spam filter. A massive stack of PHYSICAL letters drowning out your desk aren’t so easily ignored. The issue here is that people are too used to the easy way out, and this ISN’T as easy as “button click activism”. Not to mention the years of no consequence anonymity that the internet has provided making personal tact all but dead. If you do suffer from this phenomenon, the forum post at CoH Titan should be enough to help you along the path if you truly want to make an impact upon this decision.
  • Starting up a private server.
    This is being seen as the last resort tactic to this campaign, and sadly probably the most likely solution to keeping this game around. It doesn’t seem likely that NCSoft is going to sell the license as much as let it die. The biggest issue of the private server is keeping the same quality the published game had, its inevitable stagnation from lack of new content and the cost of keeping a server up. It’s also possible the host can be smacked by a C&D from the NCSoft legal department (as they are the rights holders, dead game or not). As much as I hope it won’t have to come to that for you all, I can’t help but think, knowing NCSoft’s reputation, that it may be all you have left. Regardless don’t go down without a fight.

So what do you feel about all this? Thoughts? Comments? Clarifications I can much more easily edit in text form?

Discuss how you feel about this below, and let everyone know what you think.

Good luck, Paragon City.


Posted on September 2, 2012, in News and Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 82 Comments.

  1. He is risen! The cat’s come out of the bag in time for the game’s 15th anniversary and private servers are online and doing quite well with the first one peaking at around 6,000 players on it’s opening weekend.

    I can’t believe how much I absolutely missed this game, and playing it again shows just how much content was in mid development and cut short at the announcement. There’s several power pools, a massive class re-balance for Blasters, several new powersets for existing classes, and even the beginnings of a whole new class that was sitting in testing when this game went down. :(

  2. is there any way us COH fans may make up the money to buy the servers from ncsoft?

  3. I’ve spent so long looking for a replacement to this unique game and I’ve exhausted every title from the last 10 years. I don’t plan to continue searching any more and I wont even look at another game produced from NCSoft simply because of how unsupportive they were to CoH in their final hours.

    This, however is an odd request but one I hope their may be an answer to. Does anyone know the language used to program City Of Heroes? I have a fairly good idea of the structure and mechanics of how it runs but my experience of programming is limited to JavaScript currently and creating a 3D engine like CoH feels like climbing the stairs then going up a mountain.

    Since CoH shut down I’ve had a lot of time on my hands and quite frankly I cant find any game to compare to it so as a side project I would like to explore how the game was made and look at creating a new framework (obviously this is not an overnight project)

    I’m not interested in comments with content such as “it took an entire team to develop this, how can you redo it” or “your wasting your time”.

    I’m fairy sure that a lot of people feel like me in still thinking back to the “good old days” and wish it was still here, so I would like to think there would be support for trying to resurrect this unique and amazing title.

    So to all the programmers out there, what are your thoughts on the language and setup of how this game was created, simply to the extent of the 3D environment and the skeletal structure of how it fits together.


    • I know it used the OpenGL libraries for graphical rendering, and it had to have used either C, C++, or C#. I think personally it was C++. However, there are already many games being made as an alternative.

  4. Thanks for the post, as an old City of Heroes gamer I appreciate the attention you are giving this game. Thanks

  5. I wanted to thank you for your insightful and well written article. Sadly, I agree with most everything you said.

    I had some things come up yesterday and I missed the grand finale. Today I went looking for game news, hoping for something good. But it’s just radio silence.

    Sad, really.


  6. What I find interesting is that this shut down occurred a few months after Nexon
    bought a significant amount of shares of NCsoft, a 14.7 percent stake. It may not sound
    like a lot but enough to be influential. And these shares were bought directly from the
    NCsoft chairman Kim Taek-Jin.

    I doubt as well that NCsoft will ever sell CoH IP and if they do it will be overpriced and out of reach of any real investor. And on top of that, as far I have searched they have never really sold any of their IPs. Tabula Rasa being one that comes to mind.

    And it is true that if it does not come from NCsoft developers it not taken with any real seriousness. Though I’m surprised that they supported Carbine Studios with their Wildstar

    As far as I can tell NCsoft just uses the US market as extra cash cow to suck players into paying US dollars for their games. They really don’t care about any community here in the US.And that includes NCsoft Westt which handles Aion. I hope that with the recent news of
    the community asking Disney to approach NCsoft into acquiring CoH can at least nudge
    NCsoft into considering letting go of the franchise.

  7. how do I feel about this; well sad is for one because CoX was my first MMO but also extremely nervous; this isn’t the first title NCSoft has axed for convenience. They haven’t earned the, “Game Killer,” title for playing NES games until the cartridge lit on fire. i used to think EA was the most evil game corporation but they can’t hold a candle to NCSoft now. If GW2 falls flat on its face whats to stop them from doing to it what they’re doing to City of Heroes? What’s worse is that people who paid full price for this game are basically given a, “sucks to be you,” response and have software on their computer they will not be able to access anymore. Its like being sold a car with an engine that will eventually be removed and the only thing you get out it is a steel frame and alot of grief.

    Yes GW2 is garnering alot of capital for the company…for now. History has shown us that many other titles have tried to compete with Blizzards 800lb gorilla World of Warcraft and failed miserably. they fall on their face, go FTP which is usually the kiss of death to any MMO. now GW2 is already FTP, do I think that’ll be a saving grace? Possibly but I won’t hold my breath. They’ll need to be on the ball at all times to deal with the potential backlash if content starts to get stagnant and as we all know Mists of Pandaria went live and despite the occasional naysayer and troll some are saying its one of the best expansions Blizzard has ever come out with since Burning Crusade. What’s worse; Patch 5.1.0, a MASSIVE content patch, its scheduled to go live sometime this month. You almost get the hint that NSoft is just being really lazy, doesn’t know or doesn’t care and being belligerent can potentially cripple a company.

    As such I am VERY reluctant to buy anything from NCSoft with the danger of them shutting it down. Auto Assault, Dungeon Runners, Dragonica, Exteel, Tabula Rasa; a track record like that makes them unpredictable and dangerous, not to mention the whole legal action by Richard Garriott brings their actions more in question. I advise people to do their homework, make sure your investment is well spent and watch NCSofts actions. I realize the $60 for a game may not seem like much but in the long run can be; that’s $60 you will NEVER get back and wasted to a piece of software that does nothing other than taking up space on your HD.

  8. my thoughts?
    I’m going with the ‘boycott’ method. effective? not really, but since they have nothing i wanna play now, it’ll be easy to stick to.

  9. That’s shocking news.

    I’ve very little to say, though I knew it was going beginning to go downhill when they upgraded their physics engine(leading to a lot of people with lower-end systems being shut out of the game) without doing any actual graphical improvements.

  10. Thanks for the post, as an old City of Heroes gamer I appreciate the attention you are giving this game. Thanks

  11. Thank you for this blog post sir. I have been playing CoH since 2 weeks after launch (old video card or would have been AT launch :) ) and this hit me like a freight train. The community there is fantastic and it feels like my favourite watering hole + my favourite pet are being torn down/dying on the same day. I really hope that someway somehow this grassroots movement can keep it alive.

    On a personal note, my best friend I have know for over 20 years met his wife in-game and they just had their second daughter together last September so with the closure of the game a source of wonderful memories will disappear for me forever.

  12. Most people are still reacting to this like chickens with their heads cut off just angrily blaming NCSoft, asking “How could this happen?!”, and pointing figures at Aion F2P or something else. Here are the facts:


    And here is me talking about the closure in the first segment in my usual haphazard manner.


    1. NCSoft has been losing money. The first quarter of 2012 they had reported a significant drop in profits and were in fact in the red for the second. All is not well on the business side of things for them. Most of the reason in drop in sales was for buying out Ntreev to develop more mobile games and production costs for both Blade&Soul along with Aion in Japan.

    2. City of Heroes only accounts for 2% of NCSoft sales. The only other product lower than it is the original Guild Wars. Meanwhile, Aion, Lineage, Lineage 2 account for 85 to 95% of NCSofts sales, not to mention what Blade & Soul is bringing in.

    3. City of Heroes is not a main NCSoft Title or franchise. Lineage is NCSoft’s Mario and Aion is it’s Metroid. These franchises are not going down since they are made by NCSoft directly and are not going to be axed, despite less popularity overseas.

    4. The market where City of Heroes is located, North America and Europe, is only 7% of NCSoft’s market. When people say that NCSoft only cares about Korea, well they should if it’s 70% of their consumer base.

    5. As for the studio itself, while Paragon Studios was a dedicated, fun, and great developer. There seemed to no further plans for an expansion or a new game. It was a studio created the run the game after NCSoft acquired it from Cryptic Studios. If you look at other studios, Arenanet may have had the smaller sales figures with Guild Wars, but I think a million pre-sales with Guild Wars 2 helped strengthen it’s position. As for Carbine Studios, they are working to put out the new MMO WildStar. So out of the list of studios, you had two new games coming out from two of them, and no news of new games from Paragon.

    I’m not going to say it doesn’t suck that City of Heroes is shutting down. This is a game that did not deserve to be closed. Yet with NCSoft in the red, I’m not gonna blame them for cutting costs by cutting arguably the smallest title in their lineup, even if it dis-proportionally affects us here in the US and Europe.

  13. With all the people wondering “why did this happen, it sounds crazy”, I have to ask here:
    Is it just me, or is like half the entire games industry at this point just kind of crazy? So much going on lately that just defies logic, explaination, sound business sense, etc…

    Almost like they’re starting to take the “Hollywood” model of business. That article that Chaos D1 linked to a few comments above seems to add to that notion.

  14. I played CoH/V for a few months leading up to the Going Rogue expansion and really enjoyed the game. The only reasons why I had to stop were because the villain group I was in was disbanding and I lost my job and couldnt afford the fees anymore (otherwise I would still be playing).
    I went back after it went free-to-play, but I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to be doing with my characters (who were all still there, just most of them locked because of the f2p model) and opening the villain group tab just depressed me so much, all those names that had not logged in in years, that I closed the game again.
    I’d like to see the game stick around, but I don’t have the money to help keep it afloat, so I don’t feel comfortable asking it to stay. I’ll be keeping my eye on this one, however, to see how it goes. If it goes the private server route, maybe I can make some new friends.
    Here’s my stage of grief: Why couldn’t this be happening to Champions? (I like the TT game well enough, but I -do not- like the MMO.) That that one instead!

  15. Well, now THIS is an interesting article. Mostly because a name I entirely expected to see on here was. http://kotaku.com/5940672/pissed-off-employees-bash-pretty-much-every-major-video-game-company

  16. I’m glad to see this, because, this closure really hurts. City of Heroes is the only traditional MMO I ever seriously got invested into, it’s the only one I ever reached max level on, and I poured hours into the game. The idea of the game suddenly being gone has been a bitter pill to swallow. What hurts even more is that there really isn’t anything quite like City of Heroes out there. City of Heroes provided a pretty open power structure, the ability to easily play with anyone regardless of level, and a quests that didn’t really require you to match up quest tree progress, meaning it was never disadvantageous for you to group up and do someone else’s missions, meaning groups happened easily and often.

    I just don’t see anything else out there that interests me the way CoH did.

    • Aside from the open power structure, Guild Wars 2 covers pretty much everything you just mentioned. I know bringing up the game might be in bad taste, but I’d at least check out the videos, podcasts and other reactions to the game before writing it off. It may not be reinventing the MMO genre as we know it, but it does it very well and in a fashion distinct enough from other titles that it should draw people in and keep their attention. Plus, the only investment you need to make for it is $60 upfront and however much computer & internet time you decide to spend on it. Better than try WoW and suddenly deciding you like it.

      • Except that GW2 can be classified as pretty much just another high fantasy MMO like WoW. I’ve played a couple of hours of it, and it is sleek, provides dynamic events (similar to Rift) which are also fun to jump into, and the platforming can be challenging. However, right now, it doesn’t come close to encouraging the same depth of creativity and character building as CoH, plus it lacks the modern setting.

        In CoH, you could use the mission architect builder to create your own story arc, missions, enemy and friendly NPC’s for those missions (using the same character generator used to make your hero). I’m not sure how much you could change up the terrain or whether you had to use premade maps for AE. I didn’t get that far into it.

        Then you had the power sets, which could be tweeked with enhancements and slots to improve on recharge rate, buffing, debuffing, endurance modification, endurance reduction, accuracy, etc. Not to mention the invention enhancements which leveled with you, and the Set IO’s you could use to enhance multiple aspects of a power. The power sets themselves were such a variety that is you wanted to play an ice themed character, you had Ice Manipulation, Ice Armor, Ice Mastery, and Ice Control. You were limited in which of these powers were primary and which were secondary depending on your archetype.

        Guild Wars 2 is a good game, but not currently up to par with the years of improvements CoH has. That might change though.

  17. I followed your link, Leohan, and also navigated to NCSoft’s About Us: http://global.ncsoft.com/global/aboutus/visiongoals.aspx Their “Mission”, “Format”, “Spirit”, and “Core Value” each contain elements of irony, given the way the company is handling closure of Paragon Studios: “The ultimate mission of NCSoft is to make each and everyone [sic] on earth happier.” “Our organization is built on trust … .” “Do the right thing! Do not hesitate doing what is right.” “Integrity –> Stick to the principles, and be honest in any circumstances.”

  18. Link to official NcSoft business website, quarterly reports:

    The cold hard facts on the earnings of NcSoft. What brings in the cash? Well it isn’t the City of Heroes. Paragon along with ArenaNet, in 2Q 2012 earnings releases. Bring in little to no sales compared to the other services.
    HOWEVER. If you pay attention and read more then just a bar graph. City of Heroes and Guild Wars, the low sales (at first glance). Are one of the only things making NcSoft any money without increase in cost.

    NcSoft is bleeding black. You can see a steady decline in all the numbers from month to month. You can read paragraphs on how labor costs are going up and how production costs for Aion box sales rose.

    So cutting a product that does 2% in sales in a quarter makes sense at first. Until you actually read the book and not glance at the cover. Aion and Lineage do big sales for NcSoft, but the big profit is just not happening.

    So the out of studio Americans get the Axe. Lucky for Arena Net (the other American developer, GW1/GW2) they have a brand new game, so are safe… for now.

  19. When I heard the horrible news that CoH will be taken away, it felt like losing a very good friend. It still does, as, so far, there is no change in that fact.

    However, this hero, Darth Delicious, will not go down without a fight!
    A Rain of Arrows is not the last thing NCsoft will see. Mysterious Mike will follow with one heck of a Knockout Blow while Cloudwatcher will freeze every foe in sight and Kappa Tau will have his Claws ready to wipe out what’s left.

    — seriously though… I will do what I can. What else is there to do?

    *hugs and waves*

  20. Thank you for reporting both the closure, and the community’s efforts to save the game! The suggestion in a reply about sending faxes made me laugh out loud…imagine all of the workers around the mail room having to wear earplugs because of the incredibly annoying connection noise! Of course, they could just unplug the fax machine…

    For anyone really serious about making their voice heard, you can send a hand-written letter via certified mail to the CEO. This insures that someone has to physically sign for receipt. The contact information and some guidelines for the letters can be found at the Titan Network forums.

  21. The strange thing about this news is that a profitable game has been axed.
    It makes any player of an online game feel a little less safe when the loss of a game seems to make so little logical sense.

    • It’s hardly the first time this has happened. I just can’t think of any other examples off-hand.

      • I can. Tabula Rasa. It was another NCSoft game. It had a very large fanbase as well and NCSoft killed it. From what I understand, it was taken down in much the same manner as CoX is experiencing.

        So, moral of the story: Don’t bother with NCSoft’s games. They don’t let them die off naturally, they just kill them and move on like a trophy hunter.

  22. I been giving this some thought since i saw this last night and while I only once tried CoH and found it a bit slow to my liking and restrictive. I hate when a good game that people care about get can.. That being said, I did think of a way around this. While City of Heroes is Dead, The people behind the game are not. They can take what ever resources, codes, projects they can legally take. Form a new company, Find a new backer, and rebuild City of Heroes with a new engine but probabily won’t be called City of Heroes.

    Hopefully the are looking at ever legal action they can take to keep the game around but without someone coming in and buying it from NCSoft, I doubt that will happen.

    • There’s that “bargaining” stage again.

      I don’t mean to sound mean, but there’s one little flaw in your assumption: the people who made the game still care about it. I don’t know Cryptic’s policy, or why they sold it to NCsoft to begin with, but if you go off and have a new “kid” after abandoning the old one to an “orphanage”, it implies you don’t care about them. I mean, this isn’t like Quest for Glory, the RPG/pont-and-click adventure game originally published by Sierra and programmed/written by Lori-Ann Cole and her husband whose name escapes me. When Sierra got bought out by Vivendi (and became a husk of the gaming company it once was), all of the Quest series were iced, with the possibility of new ones coming out at a probability close to 10^-9. However, the Coles did look into buying back the rights so that new QfG material could be released in some way, shape or form. It’s been years since I was in the QfG fan circles, though, so I have no idea their current fate, but that is a completely different case of development hell. Here, the developer had already washed their hands of it, made a new “better” model and probably will only give a passing though to CoH as it shuts down.

  23. Since I’m not a CoH player, the only thing that worries me is how NCSoft will behave in regards to future games of theirs I like/own. Now I see this happening again down the line with little reason or warning. I don’t know much about the company really. As far as I know the American office seems to have a good history so far, but I don’t know how much sway the Korean one has or how all this works really.

    • I feel the same about AO, LOTRO, and nearly every older MMO I’m playing right now.

      Heck, even the non-MMO Demons Souls servers have been on the chopping block for years now. Once they are removed, the online multiplayer of that game will be gone forever, which means no one invading your game to PvP or to Co-Op on a mob with you.

  24. Send a Fax, it is honestly the only send a letter/email/change.org option that will work. Almost all company’s maintain a fax machine, however no one uses them, therefore usual nature of the delivery of the message in addition to the noise created is enough to warrant attention from management. In addition since the fax machine is inside the building and often located outside of the mail room areas of corporations you can bypass mail clerks who often pitch letters. This is also the only way to actually get a letter read by people in congress who matter, almost every other type of action results in a form letter and a trash can related fate for your letter.

  25. Has anyone done any research into the financials behind the game? I keep hearing people saying that it was making money but are we really sure that it was profitable?

    • There’s the rub. It’s not how much money is coming in, it’s how much is coming in compared to how much is going out. It’s all about cost management, and maybe it’s a case of just not ENOUGH people were supporting the game.

  26. Good idea, but axing a game with a very active and vocal community to get some extra servers running for a game that will probably lose much of the attention it’s gained in a month or so (I still plan on playing GW2, I actually enjoy the game mechanics, and, like Chaos said in his sidequest review, fixed a lot of the problems I had with the original, namely the instance fields outside of the towns/lobbies) doesn’t exactly seem like the best business plan.

    • Thats why they need to make room quickly as long as Guild Wars 2 has the attention. Also NCsoft is a company and I guess it is run by businesspeople (and not players). And companies usually have the goal of making money and growing.

      Now considering that Guild Wars 2 costs roughly 60$ (in Europe and America) each customer who starts playing Guild Wars 2 means an average of +60$. And the thing is even if he stops after one month they still got the 60$ out of him, right?
      How much money does the average CoH player provide? How much do you really buy in the Cash Shop? (I personally have never bought anything in a MMO Cash Shop) So from a purely monatary view of the NCsoft business executive money manager, how many CoH players is one Guild Wars 2 player worth? (might sound harsh, but then again this is a big evil corporation trying to take over the world)

      The other thing is about growth. Guild Wars 2 is new and fresh, it started this year with about 0 players (+ – 10?) and has the potential to grow, to get to 1 million players in X-months, to lure Y new customers away from other companies and to the market share of NCsoft etc. How was the growth in CoH in the last year? How many new players did it attract? How much did they manage to get away from the competitors and into their own game?

      Now the same question could be asked about Aion, but like ChaosD1 said “Aion is still their baby, and CoH is an old, acquired title.”

      Unfortunately I don’t know the numbers and the answers to those questions. So I can not say if this is a bad business plan or not. But what I do know is, that at the end of the year a company creates a balance of accounts which results in either a red or a black number, and if its red its not good (Sometimes heads might role so that they can write the red number with the blood of the responsible or maybe even innocent). Therefore some are compelled to do wired things and jeopardize the future to survive the present.

      • I personally dumped at least $243 into the game in the past year. My neighbor has been pouring another $50/month into the cash shop for costume parts, power sets, booster packs, emotes, etc. i don’t know exact numbers, but after Going Rogue and F2P, the Virtue server never felt as empty as it did in 2009. If this had happened back then, I wouldn’t be surprised about the game shutting down.

        • It’s the fact that you can never truly own an MMO & that one’s it’s servers are shut down it’s 98% likely gone forever that I will not invest more than $50 into any of them. & why I won’t pay more than $20 for singleplayer games on remote host servers.

          • It was worth it though. I enjoy the game and the community, plus even after the servers shut down I’ll my experiences to fuel my creativity in other media such as writing and art. At least then I’ll retain some form of ownership over the characters I created. I see what you mean, though. I’m a little more leery of throwing money into any kind of video game after this.

      • I personally spent $300+ in the past six months in the store.. all the packs, costume pieces and some sets totally were worth it. Expands slots for storage, salvage, recipes were invaluable. There were so many little things that made play better. Two of my friends dropped more than that. I had actually got 3 of my friends to return at FTP and they were planning on resubscribing in september when it happened cause i showed the crazy incarnate stuff going on.

  27. Just thought I add some info myself. I just noticed that Guild Wars 2 is sold out (at least in the german region), where they are not selling any more keys online and I wasn’t able to get one in the store either.
    So maybe this is a weak supporting fact for “NCSoft lost money on the Aion F2P conversion, and cut CoH in hopes it would get players to move to Aion or Guild Wars 2.”, but what I have seen it seems that Guild Wars 2 is quite hot right now where everybody wants it (hey its the first six months after the start!) and the servers are working overtime (or maybe over-capacity, to the same point as battle.net during diablo 2 launch maybe?). So they might need more capacity without buying new hardware (to omit additional costs) …
    Just a thought

    • This is actually quite a believable theory here, one that might have a ring of truth to it. I bought Guild Wars 2 a few days ago, before I heard about this (and probably would have anyway. I thought City of Heroes had been dying (which may or may not have been true), and I was a huge fan of GW1 back when it was only Tyria. I’m supporting ArenaNet, not NCsoft, and always have been.), and I’ve noticed the huge amounts of problems with the game. I maybe didn’t play Guild Wars at launch, but I did start when it was still in its early days, and it seemed to flow much better than the sequel is. Also, I find it hard to have proper movement control in a game that is boasting dynamic fighting. Vindictus has much better controls, with graphics that are just as good and a trading post that survived the switch from open beta to release. The servers have also filled up extremely quickly, with nearly all of the NA servers full the last time I checked. They recently added a few new ones, but I don’t know where those came from or their current status.

      And just in case anyone here wants to criticise me for playing GW2 despite claiming to be a “FTP MMO fan”, I make the following argument. 1) I had already bought the game, unlocked the code and it’s non-refundable. 2) No monthly fees, so unlike many other popular MMOs, they aren’t constantly draining my pocketbook (or driving my farther into debt, as the case may be). 3) I really didn’t have any intention of buying gems in the first place, so I’m not supporting their cash shop, the other way they gain revenue. So 4) I will keep playing a game that I own and using up their bandwidth/resources/whatever without spending extra money and making them use up more of theirs. If that isn’t a form of protest, I don’t know what is.

  28. Yeah, you keep talking about Nexon
    [“They only reason more people don’t hate NCSoft is because Nexon still exists.” They are ON PAR with the kind of shady crap Nexon has been pulling over the years… occasionally worse.]
    Did you miss this?
    and/or this

    So… “selling it to Nexon” isn’t really an option as they’re *quite possibly* the folks with a hand in this! And much to my dismay – it seems that Nexon has a stake in a couple of the other games I was thinking about playing when they launched here in the US = Warface & Defiance.
    I’m not touching GW2, or WildStar, or anything else NCsoft has a hand in if they continue with this move. CoH has/had Issue 24 fairly near to release along with other things New Powersets that weren’t to far off (Bio Armor & the Sorcery Pool, and ‘Super Packs 2 – Rogues & Vigilantes’ all of which have already been in beta for awhile now.) Actually, I actually suspect they were all but ready to release/publish… But, they didn’t want to put all the “new shininess” out at once!

    They COULD still “get the shit back into the horse” = IF they do it quickly, and say they’re doing it in response to ‘the overwhelming feedback from the players/community’ = “we had no idea”, etc. Even if that’s not the case/reason, they might not have realized what they we’re doing & to whom = This is going to create more “bad blood”/”ill-will” toward their brand than the person who decided this was “smart” knew…

    *You (they) can’t buy good press*, but you (they) can sure as hell avoid a mountain of long-term bad press, by eating just a little bit of crow! Are they big enough to do it?

    IDK, But your cynical stance of “…Regardless of their probable hope that you’d migrate to another NCSoft, I highly expect that they are completely willing to lose you as a customer.” I disagree, I have an Aion account code = unused because of their security issues & the fact that my computer at the time was over-heating before getting thru the character creation screen, and the downloader for it was buggy as hell in beta! Lineage II & another CoH account as well & maybe Guild Wars (I don’t recall off-hand, But I never played it), I got those codes as a goodwill gift” thing = back when they closed AA & then TR.

    I’m not “moving on” to ANY of their of their other games = I don’t care if the games with a bag of real gold coins & perform sexual favors… I won’t spend another dollar on anything games they’re connected to, or stand to profit from!

  29. This…this doesn’t make any sense. 0.o The game had one of the best character customizations of any game, the gameplay was tried and true, the concept was- at the time- unique and original, the characters were varied…The game was popular! I can understand something like dragon egg going down because it didn’t have enough people, but City of heroes? I’m a little disturbed by this. Next thing you know, Tera will be shut down. Or maybe Guild Wars 2. Now all we have is a superhero game where the only two tank choices are fire and ice- the two elements NOT associated with defense. -.-

    • Sorry, I meant “Dragon Gem”. It’s an old game that looked suspiciously like Maplestory and was shut down a month after being released in North America.

  30. well as many hardcore long term coh player’s am in shock and yes i doubt the petitions will be able to do anything but i signed it , aven joined an email campaign to Valve to see if they would buy it (slim hope is better then none)

    as for the mention of nexon , i had never heard of them before , but the published reports show they just recently got controlling shares in NCsoft.

    i will continue to play untill the servers go cold and look for any chance to pick it up again (although if a private server starting from scratch after losing over 100 charactors would be dissheartening)

    also there was a lot of loopholes for FTP accounts even for chatting , yes they couldn’t send telss, they couldn’t trade with players, they only got small inspiration drops (and no salvage for costume parts) but you could set filters to only show free costume selections, you could add anyone to your friends list and message them that way (although everyone on the list got your message) and non free members could email items and in game money to free members (inluding large insperations) which many of us always did to help new players that couldn’t sell things for profit that we could

    now and forever @alien angel

  31. Far as I’m concerned, shutting down City of Heroes is a cryin’ shame, especially since it was doing well enough to keep going. Sure, the game had its problems, but it was still the only MMO out there that I can think of which fostered imagination and creativity to such an extent, not to mention the progenitor of a lot of amazing game mechanics that MMOs are only now starting to take advantage of. Guild Wars 2 is now bragging about scaling players to content and scaling content to players, as though City of Heroes didn’t launch with that 8 years ago.

    I doubt anything will change NCsoft’s mind. They WILL NOT reinstate City of Heroes just because the cost of the studio and the game’s support is non-trivial, all things considered. The best we can hope for is they don’t sit on the franchise until it rots and just sell the whole thing to someone who can make something of it. At this point, I’d accept even Nexon or Perfect World. Shit management is better than foreclosure.

    But I guess that’s why Jim Sterling hates large game publishers. In one of his Jimquisition videos, he talks about how piracy may be bad, but pirating a game that a publisher shut down, isn’t selling or developing or making a sequel to and is just sitting on the license to isn’t a bad thing in his eyes. That’s why I’d support a “private server” for City of Heroes if one popped up. I don’t give a toss if it’s “legal,” only that the hosts can get away with it. Because if NCsoft won’t sell the game to me, then I don’t feel bad about disrespecting their decision.

    And no, I don’t expect a boycott against NCsoft to work, but that doesn’t mean I won’t do it. The simple truth is that right now, NCsoft don’t offer anything I want. No, not even Guild Wars 2. I tried that game, and while it’s not BAD, there’s really nothing in it I haven’t seen before that I actually want. Besides, who’s to say that they won’t shut it down a year down the line when Blade and Soul inevitably tanks? When and if NCsoft make a game I actually want to buy, then we’ll see. Until then, call it a boycott if you will, but I don’t plan to buy any of their games. Even their F2P titles really aren’t worth my time, and I tried.

  32. Tough luck…
    And now we wait for somebody else to make a Superhero-based MMO… If there is still somebody interested in doing so…

    • DC Comics already made one, Marvel is currently making one.

      • Yep, DCUO and Marvel Heroes. DCUO is a very pretty game, but the costume design is incredibly limited and your character winds up playing second string to the main DC Universe heroes.

        Marvel Heroes is being reported a Diablo like game where you select one of the popular Marvel heroes to grind through hack ‘n slash content. I had also read a while back that it was supposed to be browser based, but I’m not sure if that’s the case still.

  33. One other thing I’d like to add is that I’ve experienced a sucker punch like this as well.

    Anyone remembers what happened to Warstorm.com? :D

  34. Honestly, people thinking that the word “laid off” means anything other than “fired” are fucking idiots. Some George Carlin shows come to mind when it comes to people so frivolous that prefer this “soft language” and even give them entirely different meanings.

    On topic, I’m pleased to see that you’re a rational man, John. It’s mind-boggling to see people on Tumblr start petitions to have an African dictator be removed from power, like that will change ANYTHING.

    People have become so isolated from reality that they think they can change politics if they share pictures, sign petitions and whatnot. It’s intriguing, this practice, but it’s also very, very stupid.

    As to COH, I never gave it much of a try because I’m a F2P gamer(no CC or means for PayPal) and the game seemed too P2P for me to get into it. But, I watched your review on it, so that counts for something, right? :P

  35. I can only think of 1 online petition that worked…The one that got…Oh I forget their names…The security guard who gunned down an unarmed teenager, that one got the police chief to resign & got the guy arrested.

    Wouldn’t the physical letter have to be written in Korean?

    Isn’t Myst Online running on a fanmade server?

    • There are fanmade servers for lots of games, but Uru (Myst Online) was I believe abandonware.and the company does not contest that server. I’ve also heard about many Ragnarok Online fan servers, but they might also have a different policy on such things. All in all, it depends on who owns the license and their attitude towards the game. The way this is shaping up, I doubt NCsoft would like CoH being fan-run, but who knows? Perhaps I’m wrong on this.

  36. Im not sad about this, I wont say good riddance but I wont be shedding any tears. Personally, my opinion of the game was it relied too heavily on its cashshop, which is never a good sign. Their CS was already getting my way before I was even done creating a basic character and it just kept getting in my way. The combat was BBBBOOOOOOORRRRRRING. Im going to use the FF13 argument here, I shouldnt have to suffer through 10-20 hours of uninteresting, boring content before the game finally gets fun. Finally, I didnt feel like anything was explained well. I think I spent more time trying to figure what everything did because nothing was explained.

    I know Champions might be considered teh poor mans COH and that CO might do everything COH does, but CO does it better and it does it better from the very start.

  37. A well thoght out and written article. It surely made me think what I could do more. Bur i wonder if there is an option that a small company buys the title since from your article it seems to be making a profit.

  38. Small error, the staff were LAID OFF, not fired…

    • Semantics. It still the same end result. I’ll change it to “dismantled”. Because I hate the phrase “laid off”.

      • It’s not really the same thing as being fired, there’s still a chance that if the game’s community succeeds in their protest they could get their jobs back, but that is best case scenario.

        Apparently in the UK layoffs are called redundancies as far as synonyms go, but I don’t know the verb version…probably a more accurate term would be “downsized”.

        • “It’s not really the same thing as being fired, there’s still a chance that if the game’s community succeeds in their protest they could get their jobs back…”

          You know that “bargaining” thing I was talking about. I understand your point but in brass tacks, it’s still semantics. They had their jobs. Now they don’t. I’ve been “laid off” from plenty of jobs. I’ve known many people who were “laid off”.
          They didn’t get their jobs back.
          It’s just a corporate term to make people feel better.

          • So some one who is fired can get their jobs back simply if the reason they were fired to begin with is resolved?

            I honestly don’t know the truth here, but as far as I have read that is the main difference.

            A layoff usually refers to when a bushiness can’t keep the job positions in existence doesn’t it?

            Firing is a more broad term.

            If not, I’ll just drop the whole discussion here, I’m sure you’re a busy person after all.

          • The way I understand the use of the terms, “firing” is when the employee screws up and is terminated by the employer, while “lay offs” are when the employee, through no fault of their own, have their employment terminated by a company who can no longer support them.

            I will agree this is all semantics, and it’s extremely unlikely the people of Paragon will get their jobs back, but it makes a difference insofar as whose fault it is. NCsoft said, “Nope, we don’t need you any more. Good-bye.” And that was that. If the staff at Paragon was fired, that would imply that a bunch of employees insulted NCsoft, embezzed money or otherwise sullied the NCsoft branding in a public fashion. So yeah, it does matter that they were laid off and not fired, but it’s cold comfort to people who now have to find new jobs.

            • The key is it doesn’t matter to the SITUATION. How I state the fact the jobs were lost will not “bring back” Paragon. If anything it’s falling into the aforementioned “bargaining” stage of grief. How someone personally interprets the underlying meaning of “‘fired’ versus ‘laid off'” is nothing more than trying to comfort oneself into thinking the right terminology will allow, in one’s mind, the possibility to more easily fix a bad situation. It’s not the important issue.

              The important issue is finding out HOW to keep CoH alive, if at all possible, and this has all been energy expended AWAY from the major problem at hand.

              NOW do we get it, or is this still a pointless issue of semantics that we need to keep pointing out, despite the fact I changed the wording after the first time it was mentioned?

            • Oh, I got it. If you read my post a little bit closer, you’ll notice that I agreed with you on pretty much every point you just made. It doesn’t change the situation, being laid off does not automatically mean you will be welcomed back if they suddenly change their minds, and neither changes the fact that CoH is on the chopping block with no chance of getting a pardon. What I’m saying isn’t “bargaining,” it’s stating clarification of facts.

              Allow me to try and demonstrate my point with an example. Let’s say I lost my job; what would be different if I were laid off instead of fired? I would still be out of a job, still need to find a new one to get money flowing in, and having the knowledge that I wasn’t let go because of something I did would not put bread of my plate that evening. The only real difference between the situations would be that I would be proud to put my supervisor’s name as a reference on my resume if I was laid off, while including him after being fired might hurt my chance at getting a new job.

              I’m not asking you to change the post. I know the people of Paragon probably don’t care, either. I’m only discussing this so you can see the difference between “laid off” and “fired”. If you still don’t appreciate it after this example and explanation, then I have no idea how else to explain it to you and I won’t say another word about it either way.

          • It’s not just a corporate term to make you feel better, at least in the us. It’s a corporate term to deny you unemployment, because you weren’t “fired.” yeah, i hate the entire concept with a passion.

      • Ooh, I know what it’s like to be laid off & see the company your worked for go down with you. But unlike these poor developers, I saw mine coming 3 months in advance (all the car companies in West Seattle were closing down due to the economy).

        Yeah, I heard that it was a total surprise to the developers that they were being axed. Wouldn’t be surprised if they made them show up to work to tell them instead of calling them & telling them not to bother coming in.

  39. How am I feeling? I want some some friggin’ compensation for what’s left of the $143 I just paid for a one year sub! I’ve got about 3years and 8 months worth of paid game time, not to mention at least another $100 thrown into the cash shop for good measure.

    Was it worth it? Yes. Very much so. CoH was the first MMO I played back when I first got into playing video games in 2008. It’s how I stayed in touch with my friends from the University of Wisconsin Anime Club after we all went our separate ways. I met my friend based out of Australia on CoH, and I have fond memories of him and the other veteran players coaching me over Skype on gameplay and character building. Some of the ideas I’ve had for short stories, comics, and artwork have sprouted from character creation in CoH. Fortunately, I keep a record of all my characters’ interlocking backstories. I went so far as to replicate the old ID card for a series of blog posts I was going to do which would expand on these characters and the universe within a universe they inhabited. For me, CoH wasn’t about grinding to endgame. It was about expanding on the existing story and finding your place in this world, make believe as it was.

    I’m still a bit mad about it. They are treating me and my friends like commodities rather than customers. And I totally agree that this is just an excuse to push people into Aion (maybe GW2, especially once the fervor dies down). Or, maybe they think they can give us compensation via free trials for Wildstar when that game comes out. Regardless, I’m trying out GW2 now, but I doubt I’ll get anywhere with it as I wasn’t too impressed with the first one. Loving The Secret World, though, and Anarchy Online and LOTRO have always been entertaining stand by’s to CoH. I’ll probably focus on those games.

    My friend “Namiru” put it a good way a couple of days ago:

    “I’m not TOUCHING anything NCsoft made after what they pulled today.”

  40. When I heard about COH shutting down and all, I really did not want to believe it.
    I only played a month or two for the game and in that time i enjoyed it. The community is dedicated more so than any other MMO i play as well as feeling like your characters mattered when they were made. Each hero was their own creation and it makes me sad to see COH get the boot for some reason.

    It’s unfair to the dedicated and fans of the series and it’s just not right at all to just abruptly end all the heroes and villains so fast!

  41. Agree with you pretty much Chaos.

    A physical Letter will have the best impact on things.
    Course I didn’t play CoH and don’t belong in the same group of people as the ones who this loss will hurt the most.
    But I’ve seen this happen a lot. This let’s shut this game down to get people to move on to another game.
    Aeria games does it all the time. For example Kitsu saga being a low profit game was shut down when they released Eden Eternal to get folks in there. Grand Fantasia is still around but the moment Lime Odyssey gets completed and published (if it does.) Aeria will most likely axe something. They have candidates for that at least.
    Was also sad to hear about Iris Online. I tried it a bit, servers were patchy at best for me lot’s of lag. But it seemed like a really cute game. Something I enjoy a lot.
    Also if NCsoft is going the way of ”let’s just kill this game” private servers will get a cease and desist the second they’re found.

    Now what I am baffled about is: why there ain’t no potential offers to buy this game?
    The players are fanatical, they’ll pour money into it, it was getting new content, the FTP model was reasonable, CoH was even starting to make a profit again.

    Pure insanity from a business point of view.

  42. I have to admit, this does surprise me. Not because I was a CoH fan (I gave it a try on a free account after your review, didn’t capture me), but because as you said, there was no warning. It was a good looking game, but I suppose a bit dated when I played. Also, while I didn’t play long (maybe a few hours), it seemed pretty sparsely populated, at least in the zone I was in. Maybe my memory is faulty, but it didn’t feel like a game where superheroes were running around everywhere. I was in the starting zone, and that is where you should, in theory, see the most players. Without a bunch of new players, I doubt the community could make things more profitable, even in a 3 month window.

    I beg to differ that online petitions do nothing, as I know a few of them have changed several minds. However, I agree that for this MMO shutting down, it would take a lot more than the 10,000 or so fans all petitioning NCSoft to keep the game open. I like the physical letter writing campaign idea, as it proves you give a damn to do something so extensive, but I think there’s an idea even the community hasn’t thought of yet. If the game is still open for three months, if it were somehow proven to be profitable enough despite the costs, the game might stay open at least a little longer. Then again, shutting down an MMO is not a decision made overnight, and probably consisted of a lot of number crunching. CoH must have either been losing a lot of money, or NCsoft was looking for an excuse to ditch the title. Alas, poor City of Heroes! May your heroes be super, and your villains less than competant.

  43. as for private servers thats usually the way to go for dead MMOs, they aren’t that hard to keep up considering the amount of wow priv servers there are and how most are fairly faithful to it(Older expansions thrive there and are kept alive) and new content would just take hiring some designers which im sure wouldn’t be too hard.

    the problem with private servers comes in the cost, unless a very dedicated and wealthy player is willing to pay for a free private server, theres really nothing they can do as trying to sell the game again(subscription fee) is what causes the law suit.

    Never played the game but im sure some addicted fan out there is going crazy trying to stop this.

  44. I sadly agree with the change.org comment. The simple fact is that there just aren’t enough supporters to make a dent, and it’s incredibly easy to pad numbers for those who know how. It wouldn’t surprise me if it ended up with 30, 50, possibly even 100,000 signatures, but as you said, it would need 5-10 times that much to really make NCsoft stand up and take notice. They know how many subscribers there are, and they know that a large percentage of them will be upset. The Titan Network option is the one that seems the most likely. It really is the people that I’ll be missing the most if nothing comes of it though.

  45. How do I feel about the loss of City of Heroes? I’m not really sure. The main thing I really enjoyed about the game was how characters looked human and not like apes as in Champions Online. I know we have DCU Online and I play that sometimes. But, I like creating my own original superheroes and I like not having to rely on character models based on Superman, Batman, etc.

    The graphics were good and while I can work hard to duplicate my characters in DCUOnline, City of Heroes proved to have a charm to it. That is until it stopped working for me earlier this summer. There’s still Champions Online and DCU Online. However, I think this’ll be missed soley because of how original it was. It was an immersible MMO with stat boosters that were easy to figure out.

    This event is most unfortunate and confusing for a lot of people. Not much else one can do if you want to get your superhero MMO fix.

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