he MMO market is a tough place to be.
With SWTOR effectively going free-to-play, The Secret World developer Funcom sacking employees to stay afloat, and even MMO-powerhouse World of Warcraft losing subscribers, few MMO developers (like ArenaNet with Guild Wars 2) are doing well for themselves.
In recent years, most MMOs have shirked paid subscriptions and gone the way of free-to-play in hopes of better financial fortunes.
Paragon Studio's City of Heroes was no exception. Last year, after seven years of sticking to the subscription model, City of Heroes finally went free-to-play, adopting a three-tiered system where players could still opt to pay a subscription fee for in-game bonuses.
Clearly, the model wasn't sustaining the company. Last month, Paragon Studios announced that it would be shuttering its doors and taking down City of Heroes. Publisher NCSoft had a "realignment of company focus and publishing support", presumably because the MMO wasn't turning a profit.
Fortunately, Paragon Studios is issuing refunds out to City of Heroes players who recently paid into the game. Customers who continue to have a recurring subscription to the MMO or bought in-game currency, called Veteran Points, will be issued a full refund. Additionally, those with prepaid game cards for City of Heroes should be able to gain a refund by contacting Paragon's customer support.
Paragon Studios will be hosting a few special events to give the superhero MMO a last sendoff, though details are still forthcoming.
My family, friends and I will miss it... It was a casual MMORPG that wasn't really focused on "I gotta win!" Mostly "have fun and roll more characters".
R.I.P. City of Heroes, you've been part of my life since Issue 5.
And it doesn't help that MMOs have remain stagnate since the launch of WoW.
It 's publicity was virtually non-existent and it had an aging game engine, but despite being older than WoW and several newer SuperHero MMOs, it was the most popular and it has a great community.
It was really weird how NCsoft shut the game down out of the blue, the next expansion was in beta.
Thanks for writing the article, it does contain a few errors. As far as the player community can determine, the game was profitable, and NCsoft never said otherwise. We can only guess at the real reasons. And the in-game currency is called Paragon Points.
Secondly, as nearly as any of us can tell--looking over NCsoft's financial reports thoroughly--CoH wasn't losing money. It apparently wasn't making as much money as NCsoft wanted. Additionally, there has been much speculation amongst the fanbase that NCsoft, a Korean company, wanted to refocus on Korean interests. There's nothing wrong with that, if it happens to be true, but it may mean that a venerable MMO franchise is about to be terminated before its time.
To that end, we've begun efforts to prove to the MMO community, and the gaming community at large, that our game is too vibrant (and potentially too profitable) to die. Aside from the usual letter-writing campaigns, there have been numerous in-game rallies. We even crowdfunded a $1000 dinner for the newly-jobless developers at Parago Studios...and we did so in a scarce three hours.
Watch us closely--the rumor is that this weekend, we'll be launching another new initiative.
However, you were incorrect about one thing. There was no hint that City of Heroes wasn't making money. Was it making tens of millions a quarter? No. But it was still profitable for an 8 year old game with around 100,000 subscribers. Was Paragon Studios profitable? Maybe not right at the end there. They had 80 people working in the NorCal economy. And more, a significant chunk of them had been pulled off CoH for several new projects that NCSoft killed.
The realignment of focus has more to do with NCSoft's traditional bread and butter. The asian grindfest market. That's where they're making most of their money, and after Aion's huge downward spike, they felt the need to consolidate their holdings in things they knew.
CoH, while it was WELL cared for under the NCSoft aegis, wasn't really understood. It's a niche product for a cultural staple peculiar to Western, mainly American, society.
Also, take a look at the other titles that NCSoft has mothballed. All of them, to a one, compensated their players with game time in other games, making CoH a first for obtaining actual, voluntary refunds.
Basically NCSoft blinked. They'd forgotten that, usually, 1% or less of customers (the disgruntled ones) tend to make up 90+% of the noise. So not a lot of "noise" was coming from CoH. As such the community was relatively small and "dead" and wouldn't object too hard to a closure.
Bzzt! They forgot that the satisfied majority seldom speak out. And this abrupt announcement served as a wake up call to these people. Who'd been spending over eight years living a superhero idea. To say that NCSoft was caught off guard by strength and breadth of the reaction from the CoH community is an understatement. They basically gave these people an entire three day weekend to suck it up, organize and act, then were caught flat-footed by the response.
This isn't the end.
We're a mere three weeks into a 13 week closure. And negotiations for the future of the game are ongoing. This ain't over till it's over. And maybe even not then.
Keep up with those fighting the good fight.
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