It’s a phenomenon as predictable as Old Faithful: Whenever a significant MMO (or, heck, TV series) has its ending announced, the fans come out in force to try to save it. Sometimes these efforts bear fruit: Jericho got a second season and Star Trek a third because of fan efforts, while EQMac and… um… hm. Some other MMO that I can’t think of got a stay of execution. Actually, in terms of MMOs, these protests don’t seem to work as well, usually because there’s a lot of licensing, staffing, and financial issues at play behind the scenes.
But let’s turn our attention to City of Heroes anyway, which is the target of a major fan effort to save the title before its November closure. From the fan’s perspective, it makes sense: The game was making money, it still had a healthy population, and it deserves to keep operating (at least until one of those first two factors changes). We all love seeing this sort of thing, because it’s inspiring and brings out the best of the community. Plus, sometimes it’s great to see that the power of organized fans can indeed change a company’s mind and remind them that there are people at the end of those dollar signs.
Inspiring, yes. I’m totally on board with the idea — I’d love to see City of Heroes be saved. It’s premature to cancel it, and I think that the reasoning behind NCsoft’s decision doesn’t have anything to do with the title specifically so much as losses elsewhere in the company. But the question on the table is can it be saved? Are we all just spinning our wheels and making noise in a futile attempt to speak to corporate suits that don’t care to listen to us anyway?
Paragon Studios is on the fans’ side, of course, but that doesn’t count for that much since the devs and team are looking, if not already accepting, jobs elsewhere. We got word that there are “discussions” taking place regarding the title, which is just a smidge more than no hope at all, but it sort of feels like grasping at straws to think that NCsoft will suddenly have a change of heart. Sometimes the decisions are made despite what the fans want — see Star Wars Galaxies. I know that SOE would’ve loved to have kept that running, because it did make money, had a good amount of players, and was a nice feather in the cap of the studio. But sometimes the big shots make the call and there’s little that a studio can do to change that. I’m not saying that CoH is in the same exact situation, but it does feel similar.
But even if the odds seem long, what harm is there in trying? One of the things that make our hobby so special is how attached we get to our game worlds and how much they end up meaning to us. Seeing the City of Heroes’ fan base rise up in an attempt to do everything in their power to save this title is something we can all identify with, even if CoH isn’t our game. As one of the leaders of the effort to save the game wrote, “We are heroes. This is what we do.” The game treated the players so well over the years, now it’s the players’ turn to rally around the game.
Maybe it won’t work, and November will be a sad time for many. But, what the heck, fight on. Give NCsoft a pause, at least, and a reason to question its corporate ruthlessness. And if City of Heroes does get a reprieve, even if it’s just to remain on maintenance mode for the remainder of its life, I’ll be right there cheering along with the rest.