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NCsoft shutting down City of Heroes and its developer
NCsoft shutting down  City of Heroes  and its developer
August 31, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

NCsoft will shut down California-based MMORPG developer Paragon Studios and its flagship game City of Heroes, as part of the publisher's efforts to realign its focus and publishing support.

Founded five years ago as NCsoft NorCal (and rebranded as Paragon Studios in 2009), the team was formed to take over City of Heroes from its original developer Cryptic Studios after NCsoft purchased the property.

City of Heroes was one of the first superhero-themed 3D MMORPGs to become popular when it launched in 2004, and Paragon continued to support the game with regular updates up to this week.

In June 2011, the developer even switched the game from a subscription model to free-to-play, as it looked to grow City of Heroes' userbase.

But effective immediately, NCsoft has halted all development on the title, and is now preparing to sunset City of Heroes before the end of the year.

Sources close to the matter tell Gamasutra that some 80 employees have been affected by the layoffs.

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Rebecca Richards
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Unbelievable. This had to have caught the development team by surprise as well. They were about to launch a new update, they were even posting screenshots this morning. I have no idea what happened, but it sounds like even the poor guys at Paragon got blindsided.

This game is literally why I'm in the industry today. It gave me the passion to enter, it gave me some lifelong friends that helped me get my foot in the door, and now it's going to be ending with a shot to the head.

Sad day.

John Trauger
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I'm bummed too. Been on that game since Dec 2004.

The rule of MMOs is "there can only be one". One MMO that I can really put my energy and enthusiasm into at any given time. CoH was that one.

It was different. Gear was abstracted into "enhancements" which you could allocate to your character's powers to make them better. Want more damage, accuracy, kick the secondary effects? There's an enhancement for that.

Without gear to drive outward appearance, CoH gave us an ever-increasing palette of costume options to make our characters uniquely ours.

CoH borrowed more than a few tricks from WoW over the years, but mostly seemed to me to be able to keep its identity while duplicating what worked. Only recently have I got to the point where I started thinking, "OK guys you've borrowed enough from WoW. Can we have some more original ideas?"

CoH had a huge number of money systems. Influence, base salvage, merits, vanguard merits and two types of incarnate salvage, which vexed players, but did keep veteran players working for the shinies instead of buying them outright on the same day the update came out.

As much as a single individual can be credited with what's really a team effort, Jack Emmert created CoH, Matt Miller perfected it.

Thanks for the run, guys.

Jeremy Reaban
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This is aggravating since I've spent more than $100 on it since they went F2P (when I started playing), unlocking character slots, archetypes and what not.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, that's not bad, that would be like subscribing for 6 months, but it does illustrate the danger of virtual items - the company just might decide not to be around anymore the next year.

Jeremy Reaban
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And as to the F2P switch, I think it worked in getting the existing players to spend more, but I'm not sure it brought in a lot of players.

For one, the tutorial was kind of confusing. Rather than slowly introducing you to the game, they had an in media res thing with a city being destroyed and a lot of mayhem going on. While it was sort of neat, at the same time, it was kind of a shock when you first start playing a game and don't know the UI or anything.

And then to continue you had to talk to a nearly invisible person. Took me 15 minutes to find her the first time, and I've seen others have the same problem on the second time around.

And then after that you had a boss fight that you couldn't lose, but would take 15 minutes to defeat if no one else was there, which there usually wasn't.

Beyond that, the F2P model was kind of stingy. Character slots were global, so you had to allocate to a server, and you only got 2. If you picked basically any server but Virtue or a couple others, there was only a few people on it. And they were fairly expensive to buy.

Still, they seemed to be making money, they had a very low fanbase. I guess this makes me appreciate Sony Online - when a game seems to flop, they keep it going and scale back development rather than shut it down. (Only exception is SWG, which I think LA pulled the license from)

Hunter Curren
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I tried the game out because of the F2P switch, but the obnoxious limitations they placed on the free accounts prevented me from investing in it (and I expect to see the same thing out of SWTOR). I feel like this is what a lot of MMOs that move from subs to F2P do and it prevents me, at least, from getting into them every time.

I wish they would sell content and vanity items, things that several other games have proven to work well, rather than selling game play. It's aggravating to get excited about trying a game out only to find out that the play experience is terrible until you give them money.

I'm unwilling to invest in an MMO until I have a chance to try it out and I was eagerly awaiting a Trail/Starter edition for CoH before it went free to play. Unrestricted access up to a certain level would have been far more likely to get money out of me.

Megan Hicks
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I have never played a game with a community that is as much fun as City of Heroes. This news was incredibly sad to hear, and I can't help but feel for the developers. All of the work they were so excited to share in their streaming videos, interviews, and constant communications with the playerbase for the next Issue/update was been stopped at the drop of a hat. Rebecca is right that, judging from their response on the community forums, they seemed as bewildered about the decision as the players. I wish nothing but the best for the developers and community management at Paragon studios no matter what happens or where they go.

Glenn Sturgeon
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Its a shame they can't find a cheaper way to run MMOs so if theres only a few thousand people who play they can keep it going. I'm currently playing Mythos worldwide but i don't think the game will survive. Too bad its not more like a FPS where you can pay for a server and go that direction. Its not like most MMOs have to have thousands of people on the same server in order to be fun to the people playing.

Best of luck to all Paragon and to all who will miss playing the game.

august clark
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Terrible news. This was, and always will be my favorite MMO. They got so many things right in this game, and combined it with a combat system that was not only fun, but was enhanced by good team play. Hopefully they come to their senses and something is done to keep it running on some small scale.

Sebastion Williams
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Extremely disheartened to hear about the fate of the CoH/CoV IP. I have been a huge fan of all things superheroic and have greatly enjoyed the entertainment industry's attention to the mythos, (Freedom Force 3, where are thee?) CoH/CoV was the first opportunity for me and my sons to engage in an MMO experience that permitted us to create characters that we have always dreamed about, test their mettle in a competitive universe and share them with others. I can thank CoH/CoV for serving as an ad-hoc summer camp for my boys as they stayed at home playing while I could monitor them from work. That is, until I had to threaten my oldest who wouldn't let his little brother in his supergroup and reported him to the admin as an online stalker. Ah, the good times will be missed. Auto Assault, now this. And I fear, Champions Online is not far behind ....

David Marcum
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Q- "Freedom Force 3, where are thee?"
A - Making Bioshock Infinite.

Maria Jayne
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8 years is a good run for an mmo, while it's definitely hurtful to people still playing and enjoying it, I'd say it's better to go out with fond memmories than persist until only negativity remains.

In an ideal world, online games the developer no longer wants to maintain should be handed out to any fans who want to keep them alive, unfortunately, we all know how good will gets twisted and exploited so it won't happen. Not to mention the legal issue with IP control when you're giving it away.

Maria Jayne
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You're aware mmos already are hosted by pirates on private servers right? clearly there are people out there with the capability to run a private mmo server.

David Marcum
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"... online games the developer no longer wants to maintain..."

It's the publisher who pulled the plug not the developer.

Kelly Kleider
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@ David
in this case the publisher was the developer (Paragon was/is owned by NCSoft)

Michael Wenk
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I'm sorry to hear this. I do wonder what this means to the general move to free to play, and whether we'll see more of these closures in the coming months.

Derek Murrin
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This is a complete Bummer. I hope it works out down the road for everyone who lost their jobs.