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City of Heroes still closing despite 20k strong petition

3 Oct 2012  by   John Robertson
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Despite a fan petition that is over 20,000 signatures strong, NCsoft will still be closing MMO City of Heroes this November. Sad but true.

An official NCsoft statement on the matter explains that the petition and show of support for the game is appreciated, but it’s not enough to save the ailing MMO which will shut its doors on 30 November.

“We wanted to let you know that your voices have been heard and your concerns have been taken into serious consideration,”reads the statement. “We appreciate the overwhelmingly constructive and positive messages in the emails, notes, and packages you’ve sent in support of the game.

“It has not been an easy decision for us to close Paragon Studios and prepare to shut down City of Heroes. We’ve exhausted all options including the selling of the studio and the rights to the City of Heroes intellectual property, but in the end, efforts to do so were not successful. City of Heroes has a special place in all of our hearts, and we want to ensure its reputation and the memories we share for the game end on a high note.

“Once again, we will be holding events throughout the process of preparing for the game’s end, and we encourage players and fans of the franchise to join forces and enjoy their time in a game that we’ve enjoyed supporting for more than eight years.”

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  1. Rae

    Oh, come on Inc Gamer. Since when is journalism copying and pasting press releases?

    I want to know:

    • What attempts were made to sell Paragon Studios.
    • What attempts were made to sell the IP, and how they were exhausted.
    • Why a number of potential investors who came forward to try and buy the rights, did not receive a response of any kind from NC Soft.
    • How NC exhausted all the option, given that the game is not due for closure until November 30, and the fact that there have only been only 32 business days since the announcement of the ‘sunset’ of the game.
    • Why NC Soft did not consider combining servers, putting the game in maintenance mode and keeping it running without further developments or updates, or allowing people to create their own, private servers.
    • Why NC Soft won’t publicly name a price that they would be willing to accept for either Paragon Studios, or City of Heroes itself.
    • Why a game that was running ‘well in the black’ and had seen an increase in players in the months leading up to the announcement is being closed down, while games such as Guild Wars which are running at a loss, are being kept alive.
    • Why NC Soft failed to respond to an invitation from players to play the game with them, or a letter from best-selling author Mercedes Lackey to endorse NC Soft products, free of charge, for a period of five to ten years, for free, if they would be willing to work with players to keep the servers online.

    and

    • Why you didn’t approach the SaveCOH campaign for their comments on the NC Soft statement, which should be pretty much basic journalism 101.

    After the Richard Garriott debarcle, I wouldn’t trust a word that comes out of NC Soft’s mouth.

    October 10, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    1. psyounger

      NCSoft has made it pretty clear there is no saving the game and answers to the above will not be forthcoming as the petition creators will already know.

      Games, especially MMOs are shuttered quite often when the playerbase drops off and they have other titles lines up (Guild Wars 2 being the most obvious). There are some things that publishers are simply not willing to discuss and will the line of “no comment” will be the response.

      October 10, 2012 at 12:53 pm

  2. The Quinch

    To whom it may concern,

    As you are aware by now, your decision to close down the City of Heroes franchise was met by nearly unanimously negative response. That kind of reaction is only to be expected, of course, and one that NCsoft has had plenty of experience weathering. What it apparently did not expect, if its behavior is anything to judge by, is how intense, far-ranging and most importantly, numerous the grief, pleading and yes, outrage over the announcement was.

    One cannot pretend to understand why NCsoft would choose to close down another profitable franchise, at least not as an outside observer. Most likely, the only individuals who would be able to provide that answer are the ones who made the decision. Certainly nobody else saw it coming; not the players, especially considering the resurgence following the Freedom transition. Not the developers of Paragon Studios, who at the time of the announcement still had open job postings and ongoing projects months if not years into the future. In fact, the entire event is surrounded by a thoroughly confusing dissonance – one certainly cannot question the decisiveness and commitment with which NCsoft closed down the City of Heroes franchise. And yet, at the same time not only had a new paid powerset been deployed only ten days prior, but Issue 24 still sits in open beta, ready for deployment, to say nothing of the fact that it took a week to remove City of Heroes from the NCsoft homepage, or that that the Bio Armor powerset, scheduled for release with I24, became available on the in-game market afterwards. With that degree of conflicting developments, it is hard for one not to take away the impression of either an unplanned, knee-jerk reaction, or a strangely schizophrenic approach to leadership.

    But regardless of the causes leading to the shutdown, the decision has been made and is long past the point of undoing. It is, perhaps, best that it remains undone. It would be selfish and inconsiderate of us, the players, to ask of you to continue supporting a franchise you no longer have interest in. And yet, there is a great degree of the same when one denies others the chance to take custody of it in their stead – to take what you have allowed to be built and let it grow and flourish, not only for our own enjoyment and pride, but as a continuing legacy of your own accomplishment. NCsoft certainly has the power to instead shutter City of Heroes completely, locking it away for good. Its memory will remain for a long time, however – eight years of history is not forgotten overnight. But given the tragic end it was given, that memory will by no stretch of imagination work to NCsoft’s benefit.

    You certainly took a great risk acquiring the City of Heroes IP from Cryptic and founding Paragon Studios. Doubly so, given how many of the game’s developers departed not only to work on other games, but on a direct competitor. And whether your decision was made on faith or foresight, it paid off in spades. Content was added, past mistakes were undone, new areas, new powers, two entire expansions… Paragon’s developers took the diamond in the rough and measured, cut and polished every facet with the kind of care that would make a jeweller proud. But most important of all, they developed us. Even before weekly streams, Q&A sessions and coffee talks, they talked to us and listened to us and played with us, not as masters, but as mentors. They offered us their attention and we gave it in return. It may sound like useless sentiment, until one considers that, just as much as the game itself, that kept us in City of Heroes, paying our subscriptions to NCsoft each month.

    And yet, during that entire time Paragon’s parent company remained uninvolved. The sense of family that pervaded the City of Heroes community was absent when NCsoft was mentioned. It was Paragon Studios’ boss. Silent, distant, apart, unknown. As Paragon had flourished under its own direction, there was never a hint of acknowledgement of its success. Even so, the players, through their love for the game, benefited you. We were your customers, through the money we gave. We were your allies, spreading word of the game when Hosun Lee, Paragon’s one-man marketing department, didn’t have a penny to his name to advertise with. And with little more than a gesture, we could have been your friends.

    Because, or perhaps despite that separation, is what we, your former players, feel toward NCsoft is betrayal. Not, again, because it lost interest in the game. Instead, because, by what is essentially giving the game that we too invested time, effort, emotions and yes, money for eight years a moonlight burial in the backyard, it is impossible to see it as showing us anything other than utter, dismissive contempt. NCsoft acts not even as a playground bully, but as a spoiled child that has grown bored and is taking his ball with him, no matter what anybody offers to pay him in return for the only way to keep playing their favorite game.

    It is, perhaps, an inaccurate impression. Brian Clayton, the manager of what’s left of the studio says that you have dedicated an entire team to reading and sorting the emails and the packages sent to NCsoft in response to their deluge. It speaks, I believe, of both of us. Of the players, that such a team would be necessary to understand what drives us. And it speaks of NCsoft, that you would care enough to do so.

    We are not a mob, to want nothing more than destruction or vengeance. We are not beggars. We do not ask for charity, that you would simply hand over years of investment on a whim. You may not even see us as equals, but that too is acceptable. What we ask is simply that you acknowledge us. If you give us a number, we will raise the amount. If you give us your terms, we will sit down with you, share a dinner and negotiate. And perhaps not even us – all things considered, it may very well better not be. But the most important thing of all, maybe even the only important one, is that the City of Heroes continues. In the hands of the players or not, it matters little, but ultimately in the hands of someone who will treat it with the faith and foresight you once showed.

    It is not a decision to be made lightly, or quickly, but likely one that nevertheless should be made soon. Because with every passing day the hope that City of Heroes can be saved dwindles, yielding ground to anger instead, and thoughts turn away from saving City of Heroes to NCsoft, the killer of MMOs. It would be the latest body to be tossed onto the pile, but not by far the last and that is the thought that would plague the thoughts of your customers. “If a game can be killed on a moment’s notice, no matter how successful, then when will the time come for mine? If all I have invested in a game will be pulled out from under me, and it’s not a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’, then why begin at all?” And even without City of Heroes, it would hardly be without precedent. If it has happened before, it would happen again, and it will be a long time before the stain of Tabula Rasa on NCsoft’s reputation fades into obscurity. It would hardly be a legacy worth being remembered by – first by fraud, then by vandalism. What would others think of it? What kind of toxic reputation would haunt NCsoft’s name? Sincerity would not even matter anymore, if shutting down City of Heroes is something you believed you could not avoid.

    And that, in the end, is what this letter is about. A reminder that when there is a pressing sense of urgency and that when one feels all options have been exhausted and the only thing that remains is to take that great, confident leap forward, it is often best to step back from the ledge and consider the consequences.

    Sincerely,

    Quinch
    Six Year Veteran

    October 15, 2012 at 6:53 pm

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