City of Lost Heroes

As you’ve probably heard, NCsoft is shuttering both Paragon Studios (and all of the staff there) as well as City of Heroes.  The last chance you’ll get to be in the first superhero MMO will be this November, and then another chapter of great gameplay will pass into history.

First things first: As always when it comes to closings, downsizings, and the like, my sympathies go out to the employees whose very real livelihood depended on these jobs.  However we feel, it’s just a game for us — it’s money and security for them.

That said, I’m sitting in a huge funk right now.  We’ve seen the closure of many MMOs in our time, but this is the very first that I actually cared about to any significant degree.  While Anarchy Online was my first MMO and WoW my first love, City of Heroes was sandwiched in the middle there and taught me the ropes.  It gave me a great ride.  I was there at launch and made my first character, a storm controller named Weather Girl.  I bought City of Villains and was there on day one as well.  While post-WoW I never played City of Heroes for great lengths of time, it was always, always the game I’d return to for sheer fun and character creation bliss.  This was the game that had a game before the game, after all — I don’t know anyone who played it who wasn’t constantly making alts and coming up with creative new superhero concepts.

City of Heroes was more than a character creator, however.  It took familiar tropes into an unfamiliar universe, and sold us on the idea that superhero MMOs didn’t need Marvel or DC to be accessible and fun.  It was one of the best games to group in, and even back when it had that harsh death penalty, I still didn’t really mind dying if it was from an epic confrontation.

Am I surprised at this announcement?  Totally.  From where I’m sitting, I’ve seen no huge warning signs that CoH was on the verge of unprofitability.  Then again, what do I know.  NCsoft doesn’t invite me over on the weekends to look through its books.  I guess I just assume that if a title goes F2P and makes it past a year or so — and has an expansion and several regular updates — then it’s doing okay.

Then again, this is NCsoft, the Fox Network of the MMO industry, forever killing titles whose names don’t start with “Lineage” at the first sign of any weakness.  I haven’t trusted them since seeing how little faith and promotion they put into Auto Assault and Tabula Rassa, and I’m less likely to now.

Well, what’s done is done, I suppose.  I hope all of Paragon’s staff find better homes, and for those players who suddenly find themselves on the verge of losing their superhero home, I hope that they can make the transition to one of the other MMOs in the genre without losing faith.

See you, City of Heroes.  We made great memories, you and I.

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10 thoughts on “City of Lost Heroes

  1. Added kick in the everything? Issue 24 is sitting right there in open beta. It was literally a few days/weeks away for people and many were excited.

  2. Bit of a shock to me too. There have been none of the usual warning signs (lack of content development, quiet developers, exodus of talented personnel, etc.). I suspect it’s not even in financial straights, but rather isn’t profitable “enough” for NCSoft, which has a history of cutting loose anything that wasn’t making enough money.

    I was in the early closed beta of CoH, and played it for years. It has collected by far the most subscription revenue from me of any MMO out there. I haven’t played since last year though, and didn’t really see myself going back except on occasion. I’m sorry to see the game go, but not devastated since I’m not playing anyway.

    However, I’m much more saddened to hear they’re closing Paragon Studios and laying off all the employees. They have a ton of talented people there. I could understand them saying “you know what, CoH isn’t making enough money, let’s move those people into development of new projects with better prospects.” That would make a certain amount of sense to me. But laying everyone off?

    What?

  3. That is sad to hear. I played CoH back in issue 1, picked it up again recently as well. It is very disappointing that a good game has gone. RIP COH!

  4. Didn’t see that one coming. I beta-tested CoH and liked it but not enough to buy it. I’ll try and give it a run before it closes. I’d actually forgotten it had gone F2P.

    I wonder how Champions Online is doing?

  5. NCSoft is just as brutal as EA when it comes to cutting MMO’s. I was a big fan of Tabula Rasa. But this is the real world where if an MMO does not have a profitable sustained playerbase then it will be cut. I will not be surprised when EA finally shutters SWTOR fairly early in its life.

  6. Pingback: City of disappointment | Welshtroll

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