If you had asked me which game, City of Heroes or Anarchy online, was most likely to shut down first, I would not have guessed City of Heroes. And yet here I am, writing about something I never figured I'd be writing about. I was on Skype when my friend “Namiru” messaged me: “GW2?” which was the status on my profile. I told him that I had picked up the game at the behest of one of my coworkers, despite also playing both The Secret World and World of Warcraft. I was interested in the fact that GW2 had an open world system in place, rather than the persistence based world from GW1. To which Nam responded: “I'm not TOUCHING anything NCSoft made after what they pulled today.” That's when I found out they were shutting down City of Heroes/Villains/Rogues in November. You can read the official notice here:
I was totally shocked, as were many other devoted players. I did notice a decrease in population between when I joined on May 19, 2008, and when the Dual Pistols power debuted (for those who pre-purchased the Going Rogue expansion) around March 2, 2010. After that, the population seemed to spike and fall again until Going Rogue finally hit. I noticed yet another spike ending in a plateau in November 2011, when the game went Free-to-Play/Freemium. At first, nearly all the servers were in the red, but by the time I came back to game they had returned to either green (low) or yellow (medium). Occasionally on the weekends, Freedom and Virtue would reach red or be grayed out as full. Still, after the conversion to the f2p model, the population on Virtue seemed to remain substantial and never dip as low as it was in mid-2009.
Once the rage around the fact that I had just spent $143 for a 1 year sub, only to get about 7 months of game play out of it had subsided, the questions started surfacing. What was going to happen to all the proposed content? Hadn't the team at Paragon Studios just added the new Staff Fighting, Water Blast, and Plant Affinity power sets? Weren't they working on new content for Praetoria? Might there actually be a City of Heroes 2 planned that would make them do this? And most of all: “Why?”
Most people I've talked to suggest that it's financial. I find that hard to believe, though. As stated before, several new and intriguing power sets had been introduced, along with new enhancements, inspirations, travel powers, emotes, and some very detailed costume sets. There was also the Blockbuster Summer event where the players participated either in gladiatorial combat in an arena, or in a casino heist. LOTRO has done a similar thing during their Yule Festival at the theater in Frostbluff. I saw many players partaking in these activities with cash shop products. Why keep developing an unsuccessful game for nearly a year instead of simply axing it and cutting losses?
I think the most likely reason (cited by ChaosD1 on MMO Grinder:
http://mmogrinder.net/2012/09/02/r-i-p-city-of-heroes/#comments ) is to try to push players off of an old acquired IP on to Aion, a title more inline with the company's Korean “grindfest” themed MMO's.. Some people are suggesting in the comments of the above post, that Nexon may somehow be responsible. This theory is based on their buying up a significant amount of NCSoft's stock, effectively making them the biggest holder:
For NCSoft's financial earnings, check here. I've not been patient enough to really sift through this information:
I was on the Massively website looking up articles on this closing, and came upon one that asked what the reader's favorite memories of the game were. One of mine was when I first started playing and was running around a park to the North of Kings Row. Spotting a purple named enemy below me, I made a quick escape. Then out of curiosity, and the fact that it wasn't following me, I returned to carefully observe what I'd stumbled upon: the Clockwork “Paladin.” Over the years, I would catch a glimpse of someone fighting this Giant Monster, or see alerts of it's impending assembly. Once I even saw a solo level 50 controller take it down with pets.
Kings Row was one of my favorite areas, although even Galaxy City had some fun nooks and crannies before the rock slammed into it. Gemini Park was where I first encountered my dreaded enemy, the Vahzilok Eidolan. At least in the lower levels. Valor Bridge in Independence Port was another favorite hangout, especially when you Super Jumped off the top down into the bay. Another fun place was Croatoa, the monsters there having also been used in the Halloween Event. They would jump out of the door every time you got a “trick,” whereas a “treat” earned you temporary costumes, inspirations, special salvage, etc. I'll also miss the Ski Chalet and trying to earn the special badge from the ski jump ramp. It was fun slipping and sliding all over the place! And the lodge at the top was great for sitting around and chatting with friends.
Then there are all the things I never got to do, such as get a character to level 50, explore the Incarnate abilities, do a Task Force or Trial, not to mention fully explore the new Dark Astoria or Praetoria. Hell, my Praetorian is only level 15. There were ideas for future characters and rerolls of current heroes and villains, too. I was also working on a few CoH themed projects for the blog here such as a “Grand Tour” themed series where I explore various parts of Paragon City that might fly under people's radar, probably linking to Paragon Wiki for people looking to collect the exploration badges. Hopefully I can get a few screen caps of the House of the Wayward Soul super group base. I was also working on several character profiles such as the Vellum one posted.
It seems most of the Legendary super group and my friends are giving Champions Online another try. Namiru says it's a bit better than when he last tried it. I have only just fired it up on the new gaming desktop, and am out of the tutorial zone with a CO version of archer extraordinaire, Elsie Dracona. I'm also going forward with the “Grand Tour” series, only it'll probably focus on LOTRO now, with maybe whatever I can get of CoH before it shuts down. I'll be taking screen shots of all the CoH characters I can unlock and putting up profiles of them.
A lot of people also seem to be holding out for a last minute save for CoH from someone willing to buy the rights to the IP, the characters, and the engine. There is also talk of a fan run server. Author Mercedes Lackey, apparently a long time player, has thrown her support behind the campaign to keep the game going and there has recently been a large protest staged by players across 30+ instances of the Virtue server. TonyV has organized a special message board found here:
A writing campaign has been organized on the Titan Network forums. The etiquette guidelines and addresses for CEO Mr. Taek Jin Kim can be found here:
The heroes of Paragon City have always been there me. It's high time I be there for them.