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.