Can Social Media Make A Real Difference? City Of Heroes Players Hope So

Author: September 3, 2012 7:56 pm

City of Heroes, an 8-year strong comic-book superhero themed Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG), has remained a popular online game ever since it launched on April 27, 2004. While not as large as games such as World of Warcraft, Guild Wars or Lineage, it retained a strong and very loyal fan base. Despite its age, the game still was winning awards for innovation, even being listed as the Best Sci-Fi/Superhero game of 2009 by Beckett Media. Over the years, City of Heroes has retained an incredibly loyal fan base, with an estimated 43 million characters created by over nine million players. Paragon Studios (named after the games fictional setting of Paragon City), the creative force behind City of Heroes, along with its owner NC Soft, had found a recipe for MMORPG success.

Then it came as an incredible surprise to have this post on the game’s website the past Friday, August 31st:

Farewell, from all of us at Paragon Studios
This morning we announced that Paragon Studios will be taking to the skies of City of Heroes for the last time.

In a realignment of company focus and publishing support, NCsoft has made the decision to close Paragon Studios. Effective immediately, all development on City of Heroes will cease and we will begin preparations to sunset the world’s first, and best, Super Hero MMORPG before the end of the year. As part of this, all recurring subscription billing and Paragon Market purchasing will be discontinued effective immediately. We will have more information regarding a detailed timeline for the cessation of services and what you can expect in game in the coming weeks.

The team here at Paragon deserves special praise for all that we have accomplished over the last 5+ years. These developers are some of the most creative and talented people in the gaming industry. By now, we’ve all been given this news internally, but to anyone who may be reading this message after the fact; know that your hard work and dedication has not gone unappreciated or unnoticed. To any potential studios looking to grow your team; hire these people. You won’t regret it.

To our Community,

Thank you. Thank you for your years of support. You’ve been with us every step of the way, sharing in our challenges, encouraging us to make City of Heroes better, more than everyone else thought it could be. We couldn’t have come this far without you. I implore you all, focus on the good things of CoH and Paragon Studios. Don’t dwell on the “how” or the “why”, but rather join us in celebrating the legacy of an amazing partnership between the players and the development team.

Thank you, and I’ll see you in the skies, one last time.

Andy Belford

Community Manager

Paragon Studios.

The players found themselves shocked into disbelief, that the holding company was shutting down both a profitable game and a development studio with minimal notice. While City of Heroes was not the largest of NC Soft’s assets, it was a cash cow bringing in what has been estimated as up to $10 million net profits per year. But instead of complaining, or surrendering, the players instead decided to act like the heroes they had created, and decided on working to save themselves. To coördinate this, they turned to the still fledgling power of social media.

Almost immediately, the player community began to pull together. Within hours, they launched a petition to ask NCSoft to reconsider. Also appeared a letter writing campaign to NCSoft’s executives. Discussions began to talk about forming a campaign to raise the funds to purchase the game from NCSoft directly. Notable celebrities which played the game such as Mercedes Lackey have chimed in. Facebook groups appeared to help the players network and plan.
And even in the game itself, being kept up until November to meet contractual obligations, people took their characters to the streets in a virtual Occupy Paragon protest.
There are rumors that the shutdown is because NC Soft’s new major stockholder, Nexon, is putting pressure on them as a result of cost overruns on the new games, Guild Wars 2 and Blade & Soul, producing a $6m loss in the second quarter of this year. The announced sale did cause the stock price to rise by 3.41%. This of course helps NC Soft’s CEO, Taek Jin Kim, keep up his golden parachute.

The use of social media to effect change is still very new. While the Arab Spring showed the power of it against governments, the use of it against large multinational corporations is still in its infancy. For years, the consumer has been ignored by corporations, who outsource their customer support, sell their customers private data, artificially increase short-term profits through offshoring, or through retail tricks such as what Consumerist magazine calls the Grocery Shrink Ray, where the company advertises goods as the same size, when in fact the newer product is slightly smaller to increase profits at the expense of the customer. To further add insult to injury, with the Citizens United decision, these very multinational corporations which feel that they are above paying taxes and being responsible to clean up their messes now can buy our elections. This remains a large problem, brought into a microcosm in a single case of a company shutting down a profitable product against the wishes of its customers.

Can a customer base change their fortune? Will NC Soft change its mind, or sell off the property to a new owner? The future is uncertain. However, in the modern social-media world, where global movements can begin overnight, I would not yet count on City of Heroes flying off into the sunset just yet.


facebook comments:


  • Thank you so much for writing this. CoH is much more than a game. It is a community. It is my home away from home. The people I have met are like family to me. The characters I created are more than just avatars. They are a part of me. I pray that some solution can be found so that our home is not destroyed.

  • Thank you for writing this article. It means a lot to me.

  • Thank you for covering this. There is still hope in Paragon City.

  • Thank you sooooo much for posting this article about our cause. My family is a City of Heroes family. We love to save the day together, and certainly hope we will be able to do so for years to come within Paragon City; the one and only City of Heroes !! :)

  • I just wanted to thank everyone at Addicting for their coverage of this and add a comment from someone who has been playing this game for over 8 years.

    CoH was thriving and has a very strong community going. the devs were very involved and had new content in the in beta for months to come. It’s not dying because it wasn’t making money. According to their own reports, CoH made 2.5 million for NCSoft in just the 2nd quarter of this year.

    I’ve seen other MMO’s die. I was in playing some of them when it happened, but In all my years of gaming, nothing has affected me, my family and gaming friends as much as the sudden, callous manner that NCSoft pulled the plug on City of Heroes. Like a light switch. No explanation, just gone, and all of the people at Paragon Studios found themselves out of work in the span of a single day.

    One of my sons has epilepsy. CoH is not just a game to him, it has been a way to keep him focused; to get from day to day without becoming too despondent while trying to live with a disease that sends him into seizures, writhing on the floor, while all I can do is watch. And I know people playing CoH who have even harder issues to deal with in their lives.

    NCSoft not seem to recognize the impact that this game has had on the lives of hundreds of thousands. There is no column for those things on their spreadsheets. Now I have to go and try to explain that to my son.

  • Thank-you, Addicting Info, for bringing the City of Heroes Community’s efforts to a wider audience in a succinct manner that really shows some of what we’re up against.

    The idea of shutting down a profitable enterprise because your company made ill-fated expenditures in other areas baffles me. I might have been able to see trimming the development team or server consolidation (As have been done successfully in other MMOs), but killing this richly written universe like a Thanksgiving turkey is a total disservice to the folks who worked on it and it’s passionate player base.

  • I am a City of Heroes player, and have been for close to 8 years.

    What a lot of people might not understand is that CoH is a community. Yes we all play a game where we are superheroes and villains, however that game has spawned books, at least 2 24hr online radio stations, countless amounts of fan art, and an annual charity drive called Real World Hero, that last year raised over $5000 for charity.

    To have this taken away from us, a World which to many of us is a second home, is horrible. CoH has been profitable this last year, we found the proof of that, it hasn’t been the reason for NC SOFT’s losses, yet it is bearing the brunt of the blow from them.

    We are Heroes, in some cases we are RL Heroes too, I know many police, Firemen, and military who play. We have that hero mentality, and we will fight this to the end…

    Good Luck Heroes…

  • I like the tone of this article. It takes large corporations to task for how they run their business and for how they regard their customers, and far too many need to be taken to task for it.

    NCsoft shut down City of Heroes for “business reasons,” this much I get. I highly doubt their decision is reversible. However, what I very much CAN blame them for is sitting on their license and letting both an established universe and a perfectly serviceable game die unused. To my mind, “the bottom line” only goes so far, an when we start getting into the tanking of legitimate products in the name of corporate interests, I don’t “get” that, and I can’t stand for it.

    If NCsoft don’t want City of Heroes, then the decent thing to do is to sell off the license to someone who will keep the game alive at least as long as there’s player interest in it. And player interest in it, there is in spades. Maybe not WoW levels, but you don’t need WoW levels of interest for an MMO to be popular.

  • Thank you for making so clear why the players in City of Heroes are so engaged in trying to change this decision. Most of us understand that this is a business, and that it has to remain profitable. Games do come to an end… but we expected that to be when it wasn’t doing well, and when there had been losses.

    That’s been anything but the case. There’s been more players and more sales. The team at Paragon studios has been producing more great stuff – both content and new powers and other sellable items – than ever before.

    The future looked bright!

    And then, with no notice to Paragon, no chance to discuss it, and no reason given, the game is being shut down.

    The official announcement didn’t even include the end date, and hasn’t addressed what will be done for subscribers with active accounts.

    Many people are angry. There are different groups doing different things. I’ve rarely seen such an organized group of adults form up on a plan and take action so quickly.

    No matter what happens with the future of the game, I’m proud of the people trying to resolve the issue.

    And, as I said before, I appreciate articles like this who spread it further and make it really clear how rotten a thing it is.

  • I’m writing 2 letters tomorrow afternoon, then mailing them to the CEO to the US NC Soft location, and the Korean location certified signature mail.

  • I’ve been playing this game since 2004 without a break. It’s provided entertainment far beyond what I pay in monthly subscription fees and perks. I’m sad, upset and weary. I try to log in now to have fun and all I can think of is “Why even try to do anything? It’s all going away soon.” I’m excited and impressed by the quick and vocal community reaction. I’m another one of those who has already written emails, brainstormed with others, posted in social media and started networking with former players who still love the game.

  • Thank you Addicting Info for helping us get the word out. This game is so much more than a game. Its a huge community and it means so much to so many people. I have been a loyal supporter since game launch and it would be devastating to see it go. I have made life long friends on here and would love to keep seeing where the story of this creative world was headed.

  • Thank you AddictingInfo for covering this, we will see if power in numbers is still true today. It’s a shame when the people that have made this game a profitable one for all these years are the ones who get punished. This is going to hurt NCsoft in the long run as sooo many players are now not going to even consider paying another penny to play any game they are apart of. So take heed Investors shutting down this community is not a good business decision.

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