Tuesday, 4 September 2012

City of Heroes Shutting Down Soon

No amount of powers can stop this inevitable finale, it seems.

One of the more unique MMORPG's out there, City of Heroes focused on creating a super powered paragon of justice or with later expansions a nefarious criminal mastermind. The game was released in 2004, and now it seems that the end is in sight, unfortunately. It was recently revealed that NCSoft has chosen to close Paragon Studios, thus putting an end to the super antics before the end of this year. This GameSpot article points to the final date of November 30th, but for now I cannot find any other confirmation of that date; needless to say though, it will be done by the end of the year.

At this point it's hard to say if any particular "sunset" events are planned. The continuation of production content has ceased of course, but it's possible that the team may be putting something together to let the community go out with a real bang, as well as give the best resolutions possible to any of the lingering questions and conflicts that the universe presented. The fact that whatever they may choose to do, they'll have to do it fast, will no doubt weigh heavily on many of the minds behind the game.

Although I never played City of Heroes I have admired the game for being an MMO that wasn't heavily based in fantasy. There haven't really been many choices in terms of such games, and now there's going to be one less, and that's really more than a little saddening.

I'm not aware of the amount of subscribers that City of Heroes currently has, although it would seem that the amount is not sufficient to continue the game's run. It is worth noting that it did go free-to-play last year, using the same guidelines that Star Wars: The Old Republic is gearing up to: anyone can play for free, but those who dish out the money get more goodies and access to everything.

With that in mind, does City of Heroes closure serve as an unfortunate prediction of the direction that SWTOR will end up taking? It's hard to say, of course, even the new General Manager of Bioware admits that he "doesn't know" if the move to free-to-play can save the MMO that has seen its subscribers dwindle ever further in the last few months.

Perhaps it is simply the nature of the market, that when going up against something as deeply entrenched as World of Warcraft, or Ultima or Guild Wars that you need to fight for every subscriber you can. Either way, in a couple of months there will be one less MMO out there vying for the attention of gamers, and I'm not entirely convinced that's a good thing.

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