Gaming News: CITY OF HEROES To Be Evicted

Written by Ian Mat Wednesday, 05 September 2012

Gaming News


Paragon City: the Rikti alien invasion couldn’t destroy it, Marvel failed to sue it into oblivion but the gaming studio behind City of Heroes are ready to pull the plug on their digital metropolis.

That’s because NCsoft, the umbrella firm atop developer Paragon Studios, has shut the team down and on November 30 City of Heroes is demolished.

But after eight-and-a-half years of fighting the good fight the strong-jawed citizens are not giving up. They are petitioning NCsoft to give them the coding tools to keep the lights running and the capes flying.

So what? Massively multiplayer online roleplayer games (MMORPG) seem to spread faster than herpes in the 16-18 age bracket. We have The Secret World, DC Universe Online, an entry from Marvel at some future point and the granddaddy itself, World of Warcraft.

So this: City of Heroes, originally put out there by Cryptic Studios back in 2004, can be credited with popping the virginity bubble of thousands of gamers. It predated World of Warcraft by a handful of weeks. And like MMOs of the time you had to pay a monthly subscription fee to enter the world of Paragon City. Let’s say about £8. Now pay that for eight years, with a few quid on top to buy expansion packs, costumes and gadgets for your super person - that’s probably a £1,000 investment.

No (boy) wonder then that the loyal gaming community shed a few digital tears when NCsoft said it was shutting City of Heroes down. Andy Belford of Paragon Studies said: “In a realignment of company focus and publishing support, NCsoft has made the decision to close Paragon Studios. Effective immediately, all development on City of Heroes will cease and we will begin preparations to sunset the world's first, and best, super hero MMORPG.”

That news came like a kick in the teeth to fans. Level 50 scrapper and seven-year veteran of Paragon City, Vandellia (that’s the spiny fish that swims up your penis hole), said: “It was such a shock. Only the day before the developers had been talking about plans for new issues, new items and new powers and the next thing we heard was an announcement saying we were being ‘sunsetted’."

“Seeing the way the community has swung into action to save our game is amazing – it’s incredible to see people leaping to defend our world from being obliterated, like just our avatars have been doing for years.”

Four months before Paragon said it was “looking forward to many amazing years to come” and revealed 43 million characters had been created. That’s just shy of the population of Spain. The exact figure of how many people play City of Heroes is a loaded question. They’ve never been released and when the game became free to play last year a surge in numbers were predicted.

All of which just adds more fuel to fans’ fury, who are convinced the game remains profitable. When news of the closure broke, Paragon City’s best and brightest protested – digitally of course – by taking to the steps of the game’s city hall, their time-crafted avatars punching the sky not with fists but with pixel-painted placards screaming STOP!

Some cynics have pointed a finger at NCsoft and accused the firm of clearing the table before it releases Guild Wars 2 this year. But a rallying cry is bringing together heroes and villains to overthrow their biggest challenge.

Tony Vaquez runs the Titan Network. He’s been coordinating a multi-pronged campaign to keep City of Heroes ongoing. At the time of writing the petition was 12,000 strong and efforts were going into raising money to make a decent offer to NCsoft to buy the game’s intellectual property rights, persuading Valve to buy it, donating subscription fees into a war chest and so on.

Evidence that the passion of gamers can be converted into hard cash has been seen on Kickstarter. Cult favourite Shadowrun has notched up $2 million, a Broken Sword sequel reached its $400,000 goal, along with a new game from the mind behind Gabriel Knight. Then there are the gamers themselves. The Black Mesa Project has released a free-to-play and rejuvenated Half-Life thanks to codes from Valve. The team painstakingly recreated the game following the lacklustre 2004 re-release and beefed up the story, graphics and gameplay off their own back.

All of the above inspire nostalgia and big love in their fans, hence their success. Many gamers of City of Heroes say the reason they find World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs a turn off is it doesn’t have the same community. But if it all ends badly some of that community may jump ship, perhaps to rival Champions Online, to keep the gang together.

Sign the petition at

Share your comments below or on Twitter @STARBURST_MAG

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-3 #22 Steve 2012-09-10 06:38
" and the granddaddy itself, World of Warcraft"

Um no... The granddaddy would be Everquest since that is the FIRST MMO
+2 #21 Sechmeth 2012-09-10 04:02
Thank you for this amazing report on our campaign. There are just a few things I want to point out: In the last business report of NC soft, the game made 10 million dollars a year.
Champions online is no choice for many players, since you can only use pre-rendered characters, whereas in CoH, you could be anything, from a humanoid tree over a cow with guns to the amazing UPS-man. And the age of the players varies greatly: I have played with 12 year old kids as well as with someone who just had his 65 birthday. And with players from Germany, Norway, Great Britain, Brazil, New Zealand and Korea. On the same server. I know of people marrying after meeting in CoH, online and in RL. I have met amazing people in RL for thanksgiving after I met them online. I have witnessed a shy 12 year old grow up, he is still a friend of mine with his proud 19. And I don't live on the same continent as him. I am a proud player of CoH from the beginning. Keep up the good fight.
+3 #20 PrincessCleo 2012-09-10 03:53
Thank you for the the coverage of our campaign.

I've said this elsewhere this week: Besides all of the friends that I have made and all of the awesome people I have met through City of Heroes, one of the highlights of my MMO gaming life has been getting to play with and be there for a group of U.S. Marines stationed in the middle east. They shared an account and would take turns playing when they weren't out on patrol. It was really great getting to play with and chat with them about their lives back home. CoX helped me make a difference in their otherwise stressful lives.

I've played many other MMOs over the years, and none have had a community that even compares with the one that CoX has. CoX has always felt like a second home to me, and no matter what happens with our beloved game, I will cherish all of the memories I have and all of my friends for the rest of my life.

"We are heroes. This is what we do."
+2 #19 Brigg 2012-09-10 03:31
LOL that's my guild in the top photo!!! That is truly awesome! I'm so geeking out right now!
+3 #18 Cherry Cupcakes 2012-09-10 03:18
Kinda stoked myself and the boys from my SG are in the main lead picture uptop! Nice article.. go go coh!
0 #17 @Vandellia 2012-09-08 12:06
@Lin - ah, don't be a wuss. As lovely as I'm sure your peehole is, I have no designs on it :)

Actually..the name. Well. Let's just say she's a spines scrapper and I'll leave the rest to your imagination. Or google.

But it /is/ kinda..something. A name I chose on a character I didn't expect to play on, so I didn't take the choice all that seriously when I set her up. (although, to be fair, the only person who ever called it was a guy who was a marine..something or another IRL.)

Eight years later and she's still going strong. The only threat to her is the people I pay for the privilege of having her. Go figure.

Speaks volumes about our wonderful game, and our amazing community :)
+2 #16 Lin from Victory 2012-09-07 14:20
(These are my conjectures from VERY limited information. A lot of it might be just plain wrong. I’m still gonna put it out there.) All indications are that the game was (at the very least marginally) profitable. The development team had no clue this was coming – 80 people were unceremoniously dumped from their employment due to the whim of a corporation, and the playerbase has had no cogent reason for the abandonment of this property. The devs are covered by an NDA, so they cannot speak up about any of the reasons.
Please help save this game, help preserve one of the greatest player communities any game has ever had.
+1 #15 Lin from Victory 2012-09-07 14:19
First thing I’d like to say is thanks, Vandellia, for your words. But I’m not going to hunt you down in game, because I made this rule a few years ago to stay as far from anything involving your namesake as legally viable, so thanks… from over HERE. :p Also, why would you take a name that would make all men clench and grimace uncontrollably? I’m gonna leave it at that.

As for CoH, 6+ year veteran here. This game and it’s unmatched community are still in shock over this announcement. The lives that have been touched, the friendships formed, the generosity shown in difficult times toward people in and outside the community, all these things are worth saving.
+3 #14 Painted Skies 2012-09-07 05:55
Thank you for posting this.

CoX has been very important to me for many years. As I became near crippled by disability and had no idea what my future would be, CoX allowed me to lose myself in a world where I can kill bad guys, save the world, and fly. FLY. I am not exaggerating when I say it helped save my life, because it saved me from losing myself to depression.

Even though I tend to spend what gaming time I have solo, and on the forums I tend to lurk and remain silent, I still feel a part of the CoX community and the thought of losing it is devastating.

Thank you for your support.
+5 #13 MissKyo 2012-09-07 03:02
Thank you for covering this! We love Paragon City and we're not going down without a fight!
+3 #12 Archmagius 2012-09-06 23:29
the fan base... I wanted to share this story, I think it says it all.
Angi Hillin:I don't hear very well at all. For all intents and purposes, in game I identify as deaf. CoX is the first game where I have NEVER been kicked from a team if they find out I'm deaf (in other games, even if they aren't using vent I've been kicked). CoX was my outlet when I began losing my hearing and felt as if I could no longer enjoy social occasions, the youngest of my children have slept in my arms while I played, my oldest daughter and I used it as a bonding tool. CoX has been a lot more than a game to me and I've kept my subscription up faithfully. If it closes, I'm losing more than a game, but I'm losing friends I know and the ones I don't know, who teamed with me for a night.
This is just one of hundreds of posts from disabled players or their family, thanking Cryptic and player base for giving them a safe place where they could be heroes. Sorry to be cheesy but YOU could be their Hero.
+3 #11 Bladesnow 2012-09-06 21:10
Thank you very much for an excellent summation of the situation. We truly appreciate the kind words about our efforts to save the shared world that means so much to so many. We are heroes. This is what we do.
+2 #10 Grant 2012-09-06 18:16
First, thanks for covering this!
Second, I'll play Champions Online when Hell freezes over. And I don't believe in Hell.
+3 #9 M Perry 2012-09-06 17:46
Thank you so much for covering this! Greatly appreciated!
+2 #8 Z.N. Singer 2012-09-06 17:38
they say you don't miss something until it goes away. Until they tried to close it, I didn't realize how much CoH had come to mean to me. Thank you for supporting our efforts to preserve something worth saving. The real life battle for Paragon City is on!
+3 #7 Jennifer Jerlstrom 2012-09-06 17:16
Thank you so much for covering us!
+3 #6 @WRider 2012-09-06 17:11
Thank you for posting this article! We appreciate any coverage that brings this issue to light.

This game is what keeps our community together and to go elsewhere...just wouldn't be the same. We'll fight to the gruesome, bitter end.

We are heroes. This is what we do.
+3 #5 Angelica Reign 2012-09-06 17:03
Starburst, we the avatar natives of City of Heroes can't thank you enough for your wonderful article. We are fighting to keep our community alive. We believe that it is a viable and as you stated profitable community. And we strongly believe our motto: "We've been saving Paragon City for eight and a half years. It's time to do it one more time."
Again Thank you for your show of support.
+4 #4 Zekiran 2012-09-06 16:44
Thank you for posting this! The more people who understand that our heroic family in this game extends far beyond the digital realm and reaches into every one of our hearts.

My only question to the author is "since when was Half Life's release 'lackluster'?" I'm a big fan of that too - as are the Devs in Paragon Studio! Kudos to Black Mesa, but can I get a WOOT WOOT to the heroes of Paragon!
+3 #3 @Vulpy 2012-09-06 16:25
Starburst, thank you for this wonderful, thoughtful article about our struggle.

We're going to keep up the fight, and we're going to do it with civility and with dignity: we're heroes. This is what we do.
+4 #2 Captain Obvious 2012-09-06 15:53
Thank you for this coverage. It helps our campaign.
+6 #1 @Vandellia 2012-09-06 15:30
[fv]A huge, huge thank you for supporting our campaign and for such a positive article. It means so much to us.

Thanks also for the clarification on my superhero name :-) It's the little details that count.

We're really hoping that NC Soft will listen to us, engage with the community and give us a chance to keep Paragon and the Isles alive.[/fv]

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