Chronicling the efforts of a passionate majority trying to save the game they love…
On August 30th, NCsoft announced that the superhero MMO City of Heroes was to close within months, alongside the game’s developer Paragon Studios. Players around the globe experienced a myriad of emotions; some were angry, others were stuck in denial and a rare few had a strange feeling of acceptance, as if the service which launched in 2004 had run its natural course. What did we think? Well, on the GamerZines staff there is only one person left who still plays City of Heroes, so fittingly we asked him what he thought. Here’s the result…’
‘I’m going to miss Hybrid Hacker’, that was the one thought which swilled around my brain when I heard the news about CoX ceasing to be. An alt that I created when I first started playing in 2004. A character I only levelled high enough to be granted the power to fly around Paragon City in style. There were other characters that I hit the level cap with, yet all I could think about was this strange blue spandex-ed hero from yesteryear and how most likely I would never guide him to establish a nemesis, unlock a new suit or have a bio that’s longer than a few lines.
Soon those selfish thoughts gave way to more professional ones; like wasn’t City of Heroes doing okay? Paragon Studios were a small outfit and their revenue per financial quarter seemed stable and substantial – consistently around 2% of overall worldwide sales for NCsoft’s previous two financial quarters – so why cut it now? NCsoft aren’t prepping a sequel for release, or working on another superhero MMORPG so what’s the deal?
My take on the situation was shared by others. Even though City of Heroes had been around for eight years, forums, Twitter and even GamerZines comment fields were overwhelmed with testimonies from players declaring their support for the game. This led to the community galvanising itself into one singular entity; the ‘Save Paragon City’ initiative was born.
Led by Tony V, this collective is the perfect example of a community utilising a positive approach to try and change hearts and minds. In-game rallies, drives to send hand-written letters to NCsoft’s upper echelon, and most notably raise funds to buy dinner for Paragon Studios’ former employees; all of these drives were part of the ongoing campaign to get that puzzling decision to quash City of Heroes revoked. These kind of tactics are reserved for saving local community hospitals, keeping parks open or rescuing sports clubs in financial difficult; not saving a community who call a fictional universe home, yet they prove how important MMO communities can become when they flourish.
Even if you don’t recognise how good City of Heroes is now, or was in its prime, there’s something very liberating about a community banding together. The movement isn’t about sticking it to the ‘man’, its about saving something which a lot of players deem sacred, proving that City of Heroes has a committed, vocal and invested audience.
I don’t know how big that audience is, NCsoft rarely if ever talk player numbers, but with the information we have about the game’s previous financial results and with the online petition to save the service approaching 20,000 signatures, it’s clear that this game still has potential. So why close this cherished online-only game then? We don’t know and the sad fact is we probably never will.
Whatever happens to City of Heroes be it closure, continuation or being sold off to another publisher one thing is clear, it’s going to be fascinating to observe what happens next.
MMORPGs are finite, and we’re getting to point where even the uber-successful ones are getting towards the end of their life. If City of Heroes can be shelved, no MMO is safe in perpetuity. We’re the first generation of gamers to have to deal with that reality and make no mistake the precedent set here will change the genre as we know it. For the sake of ‘The Continued Adventures of Hybrid Hacker’ I hope the right precedent is set.
To get involved with the ‘Save Paragon City’ movement head to the cohtitan.com forums.
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