City Of Heroes' Studio Fought To The Bitter End To Save The MMO, Designer Says

Gamasutra's postmortem of City of Heroes and Paragon Studios says the MMO's development staff did everything it could to keep the game running — including trying to buy it from publisher NCSoft. Apparently, plans for one final update were shot down right before the game was closed on December 1.

Matt Miller, the former lead designer of City of Heroes, told Gamasutra that at first Paragon was brokering a deal to find a new publisher for the game, which debuted in 2004 and moved to free-to-play in 2011. A prospective buyer did enter into some kind of talks, but that went nowhere. A group of 20 Paragon employees then opened talks to buy out the game and keep it alive.

Miller said Paragon, whose 80 employees were all let go when City of Heroes was shuttered, was still trying to buy the game from NCSoft when word was sent in August that it would all be taken down by the end of the year. Paragon was trying to acquire not only City of Heroes but also two other unnamed projects that NCSoft still owns.

The studio also wanted to release one last update, an anniversary celebration that would have given players the mission of repelling an alien invasion. Miller wanted to push out whatever they had just to give players one final thank-you, but NCSoft nixed it because the module was "too bug-ridden and it was going to cause customer-service complaints and they didn't want to have to deal with that."

Behind the Scenes of the Paragon Studios Shutdown [Gamasutra]


Comments

    The thing about NCSoft is that they're not JUST about the money they're currently making from their MMOs, or the money they could make from selling an IP (see: Auto-Assault or Tabula Rasa).

    They concern themselves with the money they WON'T make if the (in their probably accurate opinion) finite market is spending money with their competitors instead of with NCSoft. If the options are between someone else making money off City of Heroes and NO-ONE making money off City of Heroes, NCSoft would prefer no-one make money off City of Heroes.

      I can understand that up to a point, but it's still kind of bonkers.

      1. If it's a concern that people might still make money off the IP, then the IP is still profitable. Maybe not as profitable as they'd like, but it would still be a net gain.

      2. If you treat your customers like crap, they are MORE likely to go to your competitors. I know a number of people have sworn off any games with the NCSoft logo on them after the CoH closure.

        Gamers are weak-willed. Notoriously so. Boycotts don't work. People keep buying the latest annual franchise no matter how much they complain about suckage. "This is the worst version (and highest selling) yet!" CoH players still played GW2, and found all sorts of excuses to rationalize it. People keep buying EA games. People will still buy Diablo 4. ("Only because they said they'll fix the things I hated about D3!")

        We see it whenever someone cries out, "SWTOR was crap compared to SWG! Oddly-specific gameplay points here and here are MUCH worse, and I got bored so much sooner! Er. Not that I bought it... I totally boycotted it. I just played a friend's copy or something. ...Dammit."
        http://img5.imageshack.us/img5/6062/1258035395841.jpg

        So if I get pissed off by Activision's sequelitis, EA's hand in my wallet, Ubisoft's uPlay, Steam-as-DRM, NCsoft's studio-closures, and boycott all their works, I'm left playing a bunch of indie 2D-with-novel-mechanic platformers, walking-simulators, neon shmups, and roguelikes.

        I cease to be the Market, and are thus ignored by the publishers who are only targeting the market of people who buy games. A studio that experiences low sales due to publisher corporate interference (DRM/microtransactions/day-one-on-disc DLC/retailer-exclusive preorders/gouge-tastic F2P cash shop) gets shut down because obviously poor sales were due to the game being bad - the publisher can do no wrong. Or worse... they do amazingly in sales because they're targeting a DIFFERENT market. A market who ISN'T me, and who is much happier about spending more money.

        Publisher wins, other market (mostly mobile/tablet/casual) wins, I lose.

          I agree that boycotts don't work, I'm just talking about on a personal level. There were people giving money to NCSoft for CoH, but when the rug was pulled out from under them, I doubt there was a 1:1 conversion to profits in other NCSoft products. Some of those people might have moved on to NCSoft's new shiny, but some will move to their competitors (for whatever reason, not necessarily spiteful), and even in a best-case scenario they're going to have a bit of bad PR for how the situation was handled.

          It just seems like a silly idea to be worried about how much the competitors might be making when you're starting huge fires in your own backyard.

            Well, as someone who would desperately love to see Tabula Rasa picked up and remade, you're preaching to the choir.

            The other factor in shutdowns of profitable IP is ROI - Return on Investment. The thing about profits is that they have to reach a certain level to be worthwhile. It's not just enough to say that if you invest $X into something and get $X+1 back, it's profitable. They want it to be $Xn. And n needs to be a lot. Because of the Investment part.

            The money they spend on staff and servers are an investment, and if they're not getting $Xn back from it, they want to shut it down to put that money into something that WILL. The theory being that the amount of $X they can spend is finite and doesn't scale up well; that if they try to increase it to allow for $X+1, $X will increase more than is practical.

    Auto Assault. Tabula Rasa. City of Heroes. NcSoft will never get my cash.

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