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After 7 Years, City of Heroes Goes Free to Play

By - Source: NCSoft PR | B 16 comments

Tuesday NCsoft officially opened the doors to City of Heroes' free-to-play model. Even more, previous players who return to play for free will retain most of their unlocked and purchased content.

Seven years ago, NCsoft launched its spandex-clad City of Heroes (CoH) MMORPG on the PC. Originally developed by Cryptic Studios, NCsoft purchased the IP from Cryptic three years later and brought the CoH team into the publisher's collective as a new studio, Paragon Studios. NCsoft also churned out a sequel, City of Villains, a year after the original CoH launch, but decided to combine the two MMOGs after it acquired all the rights.

But over the course of its seven-year lifespan, CoH has received an expansion pack and a total of twenty-one free major updates in the form of "Issues." Now the superhero MMOG has been re-branded as City of Heroes Freedom to reflect a new free-to-play (F2P) model that now resides alongside the standard "VIP" monthly subscription. Kicking off with the launch of Issue 21: Convergence, this new F2P model will allow players to reach level 50 at no cost, while providing players with the option to purchase new content.

“Our fans have come to expect great content and with City of Heroes Freedom we’ve clearly raised the bar by delivering the best game play we’ve ever developed, and giving players the choice to truly customize their gaming experience” said Brian Clayton, Executive Producer at Paragon Studios. “We aren’t just flipping a switch and going ‘Free-to-Play.’ We’re embarking on the biggest content and feature update to City of Heroes in its seven-year history.”

According to NCsoft, Issue 21 adds a new zone, new epic challenges, new power sets and costumes, a new starting experience, new missions and new rewards. The new missions will include the debut of monthly Signature Story Arcs (free for VIP Players) which enables gamers to play a key role in the main storyline as they "fight alongside iconic heroes and villains and discover which of Paragon City’s premier heroes will die."

As for new rewards, NCsoft and Paragon said that the new Paragon Rewards program is their way to thank players for investing in City of Heroes all these years. This program provides new and unique in-game rewards designed around each player’s unique tastes and play style.

With the launch of Issue 21, City of Heroes players are now offered three choices: the F2P account, a Premium account or a $14.99/month VIP account. Gamers who used to play City of Heroes will automatically become a Premium player: they'll get everything that free players get, they'll retain most of what they previously purchased and unlocked, and will retain all the earned Veteran Rewards. New free players can become premium players by buying any amount of Paragon Points. To see a side-by-side comparison of the three services, head here.

City of Heroes Freedom

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  • 15 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 29, 2011 8:31 AM
    Time to run around with my underpants on top of my trousers
    And when I have had enough of that
    I'll go home and play City Of Heroes
Other Comments
  • 6 Hide
    wintermint , September 29, 2011 7:11 AM
    It's nice to see more games becoming free to play :) 
  • 15 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 29, 2011 8:31 AM
    Time to run around with my underpants on top of my trousers
    And when I have had enough of that
    I'll go home and play City Of Heroes
  • -6 Hide
    nebun , September 29, 2011 12:24 PM
    about time...phuck WOW
  • -2 Hide
    bak0n , September 29, 2011 1:18 PM
    Um. I've been doing CoH free to play for about 4 days now.
  • 0 Hide
    sa5er1234 , September 29, 2011 1:33 PM
    Then I will wait for 4 years to play it... :p 
  • 4 Hide
    ksharp25 , September 29, 2011 4:30 PM
    Im glad to see them doing it "right" for former players. What I mean by that is I am a former subscriber/player of some of the other competing F2P MMOs listed...and they did us wrong. I'll use Everquest2 as the example. As a former subscriber, when I heard it was F2P I jumped back on it. Only to learn all my items, inventory, cash, and characters are no longer available. If I wanted to use the F2P model on the client, I had to start all over. If I wanted my stuff back, I had to re-up paying monthly and use the other game client. That's just so wrong on so many levels...why cant I log on F2P client and theres my old lvl45 Elf ready to go?

    So..a note to all you other MMOs out there soon going F2P. (Im looking at YOU Star Trek Online and DC Universe)...when you go live, I best damn well be able to log in and there's my old avatars from when I paid you ready to go and pick up where we left off
  • 0 Hide
    Darkerson , September 29, 2011 4:58 PM
    I am looking forward to jumping in and checking it out this weekend. I always liked the game, but back when I played years ago, there was a lot less to do then there is now.
  • 0 Hide
    Darkerson , September 29, 2011 5:14 PM
    ksharp25Im glad to see them doing it "right" for former players. What I mean by that is I am a former subscriber/player of some of the other competing F2P MMOs listed...and they did us wrong. I'll use Everquest2 as the example. As a former subscriber, when I heard it was F2P I jumped back on it. Only to learn all my items, inventory, cash, and characters are no longer available. If I wanted to use the F2P model on the client, I had to start all over. If I wanted my stuff back, I had to re-up paying monthly and use the other game client. That's just so wrong on so many levels...why cant I log on F2P client and theres my old lvl45 Elf ready to go?So..a note to all you other MMOs out there soon going F2P. (Im looking at YOU Star Trek Online and DC Universe)...when you go live, I best damn well be able to log in and there's my old avatars from when I paid you ready to go and pick up where we left off


    Dont blame SOE on that one. Blame all the "Live" players. Sony broached the subject about integrating the EQ2X service into the live servers, and the live players basically threw a gigantic hissy fit, gnashed their teeth, stomped their feet, and threatened to quit en masse if one single "freeloader" stepped foot on their servers. Even though it would have added life to a lot of the dying servers they had. You can read it on the forums, if you dont believe me. So that is why EQ2X is not part of the original stuff. It wasnt some grand scheme to screw old players over. I would have much rather played on the existing servers, but honestly, after that, and the continued condescending attitude the "Live" players still have in regards to the "freeloaders", Im glad Im not playing with them. I have no sympathy for them and their complaints that the "Live" servers are dying. They brought it all on themselves with their arrogant attitudes. :/ 
  • 0 Hide
    maestintaolius , September 29, 2011 6:29 PM
    hastenDidn't this go free to play a long time ago?

    No, that was Champions Online.

    CoX really did it right, for players, like myself, that have been playing since launch, we didn't get any penalization and actually get rewarded in the form that the 'free' points we get as part of the standard subscription can be used the purchase the mini-packs that we used to shell out $10 for in addition to monthly subscription (issues, the major updates, were always free). Also, there's no crippling limits on F2P players, they can do the vast majority of the 1-50 content right alongside the paying players (unlike LOTRO, for example, which pretty much hamstrings you at 30). F2P can't do everything of course, they can't do the incarnate content, play controllers/masterminds, mission architect and don't have access to the brand new powersets, but these are pretty minor in all honesty. It's also very friendly to returning players.

    So, as a longtime CoX player, I'm actually pretty pleased with the change at this point. We'll see if I feel the same in a year or so, but other than the minor irritation of there being like 6 instances of Atlas Park, I haven't been negatively affected by the change yet.
  • -2 Hide
    lazymangaka , September 29, 2011 6:31 PM
    I can't imagine playing an MMORPG for 7 years and only getting one expansion pack.
  • -2 Hide
    carnage9270 , September 29, 2011 7:04 PM
    lazymangakaI can't imagine playing an MMORPG for 7 years and only getting one expansion pack.


    When you're not making any money it's hard to develop an expansion.
  • 1 Hide
    cobra5000 , September 29, 2011 7:12 PM
    lazymangaka, is obviously to lazy to READ! That or too stupid, there have been OVER 21 updates and two whole retail product expansions. You would do well to NOT post your stupid thoughts, they just show what an idiot you are!
  • 1 Hide
    cobra5000 , September 29, 2011 7:16 PM
    Way to go City of Hereoes, you are hands down the BEST Superhero MMO made. Champions Online is just ok and DC Universe stinks. Long live CoX!
  • -1 Hide
    lazymangaka , September 29, 2011 10:28 PM
    cobra5000lazymangaka, is obviously to lazy to READ! That or too stupid, there have been OVER 21 updates and two whole retail product expansions. You would do well to NOT post your stupid thoughts, they just show what an idiot you are!


    Where in the text are you getting two expansions? I'm reading this:

    "But over the course of its seven-year lifespan, CoH has received an expansion pack and a total of twenty-one free major updates in the form of "Issues.""

    21 content patches are all well and good, and comes out to three per year--which is neither a good nor a bad amount for an MMO. But right there I'm reading that there has only been ONE expansion pack in seven years.
  • 0 Hide
    maestintaolius , September 29, 2011 11:12 PM
    lazymangakaWhere in the text are you getting two expansions? I'm reading this:"But over the course of its seven-year lifespan, CoH has received an expansion pack and a total of twenty-one free major updates in the form of "Issues.""21 content patches are all well and good, and comes out to three per year--which is neither a good nor a bad amount for an MMO. But right there I'm reading that there has only been ONE expansion pack in seven years.

    Well, what the author is probably interpreting as an 'expansion pack' was actually a separate (but together-it's complicated) game, CoV. However, if one defines expansion pack as 'requiring purchase' then there were indeed two, Going Rogue and CoV; Mission Architect was released as a new retail version, but was given as a free update to subscribers. Maybe individual issues were not as far reaching or exciting as the occasional large one every year or two other MMOs spit out but they'd add new zones, new powers, new ATs, new TFs/SFs/Trials but you got them 3 or so times a year. In fact, some of the free issues massively changed the game and added a lot of content (adding 40-50 content blue side, adding 40-50 content red side, incarnates and the invention system being some examples).
  • 0 Hide
    lazymangaka , September 30, 2011 3:03 AM
    maestintaoliusWell, what the author is probably interpreting as an 'expansion pack' was actually a separate (but together-it's complicated) game, CoV. However, if one defines expansion pack as 'requiring purchase' then there were indeed two, Going Rogue and CoV; Mission Architect was released as a new retail version, but was given as a free update to subscribers. Maybe individual issues were not as far reaching or exciting as the occasional large one every year or two other MMOs spit out but they'd add new zones, new powers, new ATs, new TFs/SFs/Trials but you got them 3 or so times a year. In fact, some of the free issues massively changed the game and added a lot of content (adding 40-50 content blue side, adding 40-50 content red side, incarnates and the invention system being some examples).


    I appreciate your input on the matter, as it seems that you're significantly more knowledgeable in the matter than other individuals in this comment thread. I've never played 'City of Heroes' at any point, so I was purely going off of the article for reference. It seems that the idea of an expansion pack--on which definitions certainly vary--is more complicated than normal in 'City of Heroes' case.