This is practically the only online game I play. Between work and novel writing, I usually only allow myself to play on Wednesdays. Any kind hearted persons out there, please sign the petition.

Here’s the link with the announcement:

And here is the link to the Petition to ask NCSoft not to shut down CoH:

UPDATE: It seems I am in good company. Mercedes Lackey, Neil Gaiman, and other real writers of real fame are fans and patrons of City of Heroes, and want to join in the effort to save it.


  1. Comment by Rolf Andreassen:

    I do sympathise with the loss of a favourite game, but I observe that your readers have got a bit of a conflict of interest here: To wit, we would much rather you work on your next novel rather than indulge in MMOs. :)

    Unsolicited advice is of course worth what you pay for it, but I suggest that asking for the release of the codebase so people can set up their own servers is more likely to get results. Running servers costs money; if CoH is not generating enough revenue to cover the server costs, NCSoft is unlikely to keep them going as a matter of charity. Especially on the strength of a petition that can be ‘signed’ with a few mouse clicks.

  2. Comment by Tricia:

    Rolf: CoH has been making a fairly solid profit for quite a while now. Not record-breaking profits or anything, but I believe last quarter’s profits were around $6-7 mil? Certainly enough to give the game time to reach a conclusion in the story and have a graceful end instead of just killing it off.

    And writers have to do more than just write 24/7. If they didn’t spend time doing things like playing City, they’d go (more) insane. :D

  3. Comment by Manwe King of the Valar:

    Wow, didn’t know they were going to shut it down. I guess just because a game goes free to play does not mean it can stay afloat.

    I feel for you John, I too may be losing a beloved mmo (their one major flaw, unlike offline games which don’t go anywhere, once they shut down the servers, the online game is lost forever). :( Mine is Warhammer Online Age of Reckoning. I love the Warhammer world (it’s basically tolkien’s world mixed in with the medieval era, set against a backdrop of order vs chaos…what’s not to like?), and it’s one of the only Warhammer video games out there. Plus I like the pvp. The game has one american server left and one euro, that is it. If that thing does not try a f2p model soon, it may be going the way of Tabula Rasa…*shiver*
    So why not help out?
    Just signed the petition, hope it work out for you John. :)
    Wonder why ncsoft is doing that? Guess they just want to focus on Guild Wars 2? Great game btw! It is totally free to play, no subs or anything like that, if City goes down, maybe you could start that one up?

    Also: do you play any offline games? Got any favorites?

    • Comment by Darrell:

      I love Warhammer Fantasy but for some reason absolutely hated Warhammer Online (WAR). It may be that I didn’t play long enough to see character progression but it seemed to sacrifice too much to the gods of PvP play balance.

      • Comment by Manwe King of the Valar:

        You know what, your not the first person I’ve heard make that complaint. There were other Warhammer fans who had the same issue, and none of you are that far off base. There was stuff sacrificed to the PvP scheme, which stinks of course, but for a game that really is all about PvP, it’s what I expected.
        I still really enjoyed the game though, I’m sad to see that you didn’t, there are not many Warhammer video games out there for us Warhammer fans. :(
        Another thing that was not a big part of the mmo was a storyline. Oh sure there was the war effort, but other than that…nothing really. Which was another screw up, Warhammer is rich with lore, it’s a shame they didn’t use more. That and the bugs. And the fact that EA rushed the development of the game, forcing Mythic to cut alot, and generally hampering the game and it’s future. ;)
        WAR may be broken, but I still really got a kick out of it.

    • Comment by lampwright:

      John ONLY plays City of Heroes. No other video game (except recently, occasionally, DC Universe.) I think designing the costumes is his favorite part. It is certainly the boys favorite part. They have tons of characters but don’t actually care to play.

  4. Comment by False_Keraptis:

    Mr. Wright, I hate to see you speak out in support of an MMORPG. You are serving an evil that will someday be ranked with cocaine, alcohol, and heroin as one of mankind’s great scourges.

    I have played these games, and I’ve seen close friends’ lives devastated by them. They’re addictive, insidious, and dangerous. They consume hour after hour, month after month, year after year, and offer no real rewards. Eventually even the fleeting pleasure they provide fades, but still the addict continues, driven by obligation to paper-thin “friends” and an unwillingness to face the colossal waste he has made.

    Sure, many people play MMORPGs responsibly and get a lot of enjoyment from them; I have no doubt you are one of these responsible players. There are responsible heroin users, too, yet I would hate to see an author I respect recommend heroin to his readers.

    • Comment by Nate Winchester:

      Uh… no offense, but I think that can apply to anything people enjoy. I wonder if you have a problem with any pleasure anyone enjoys since by the reasoning you provided, we can substitute them all with “heroin”.

      • Comment by False_Keraptis:

        No offense taken. You are right that people can and do become addicted to just about anything, but that doesn’t mean all pastimes are equally addictive. MMORPGs are much, much more conducive to destructive and unhealthy use than most pleasures. They are closer to heroin than to, say, gardening. I assume you’ve dabbled; haven’t you seen the all the people whose lives have been damaged by these games?

        • Comment by Alan Silverman:

          MMORPGs are much, much more conducive to destructive and unhealthy use than most pleasures.

          Do you have any data to back that up?

          How do MMORPGs compare to video games in general?

          haven’t you seen the all the people whose lives have been damaged by these games?

          I’ve seen more people whose lives have been damaged by cable television than by MMORPGs. But personal anecdotes don’t demonstrate much–do you have data to back up your claim? What percentage of people who play MMORPGs have lives that are “damaged” (what do you mean by that, entirely?) by it, versus the percentage of people who watch cable, play laser tag, read books, go hunting/fishing, etc. whose lives were damaged by their hobby?

          • Comment by False_Keraptis:

            If you need data, you can start with this article about a study comparing MMORPGs to traditional video games:
            The subjects found an MMORPG much more compelling, addictive, and disruptive to their lives than the other games on offer.

            There’s plenty more data out there to be found with a simple search (, but as always, separating the wheat from the chaff is the problem.

            Really though, if you haven’t seen the problem, nothing I say is going to convince you. If you truly want to understand it, talk to some people who play these games more than 40 hours per week. There are plenty of them, and the games are designed to accommodate them, and they almost all believe their use of MMORPGs is a problem.

            As for cable TV, while it is a problem, I suspect if you looked at per capita numbers rather than absolute numbers, you’d find it’s less addictive than MMORPGs. You know more TV addicts than gaming addicts, but you probably also know many times more TV watchers than MMORPG players.

            As for defining “damage,” I suppose we could say that if the user agrees that something has had a significant and negative impact on his social relationships, employment, or education, then it has damaged him. Really though, I know it when I see it, and so do most people. You didn’t have any confusion about the concept two sentences before when you were applying it to television, for example.

            • Comment by Alan Silverman:

              Don’t get me wrong; I knew a few people who dropped out of college because of World of Warcraft. (Though I also found that after they gave up that addiction, they found something else–usually drugs–that they became addicted to). I just dislike it when people make grand claims about entire categories of things and have no data to show for it.

              I also dislike the “I see X, therefore X must be universally true” argument; it is a breed of parochialism, which is what science and data collection–properly performed–intends to eschew.

              I suspect if you looked at per capita numbers rather than absolute numbers, you’d find it’s less addictive than MMORPGs.

              I think the per-capita numbers would be interesting, yes, though I’m not sure how willing I am to make a suggestion as to how they go. An awful lot of people I know who watch TV talk about watching for hours on end, missing bedtimes, that sort of thing.

              My comment about “damage” was more to note that it’s the sort of thing that can end up being very difficult to measure. But keep in mind, the introduction of television in societies these days causes an apparently measurable decrease in fertility and community engagement (–at what point do we also admit that having pipes of entertainment pushed into our artificially-chilled living rooms has caused real damage to people? Or do we not consider either of those things “damage”?

              • Comment by Rolf Andreassen:

                “An intellectual is someone who has found something more interesting than sex”. Suppose this is true. Does it follow that intellectual activity is damaging, since it leads to a decrease in sex? It seems clear that, for any new activity, if people devote X hours per week to it, they have X hours less for other stuff. It follows that, whenever you give someone a new option for how to spend his time, he does less of whatever he was doing before (at least if he likes the new option). Since the default state of human free time is gossiping about the neighbours (“community engagement”) and having sex (“fertility”), any technology that at all increases free-time options reduces those things – to include literacy and ice cream. If this is damage then the word has no meaning.

                • Comment by Alan Silverman:

                  That’s kind of my point. :)

                  (Although, if fertility gets below replacement rate, that’s a problem for the human race if it doesn’t go back up; and I would say to a certain extent that the reduction over time of community engagement in American society has ended up causing some other problems–a friend of mine who is getting her PhD in anthropology could provide sources and arguments better than I, so I won’t extend the argument (one of those cases of “someone convinced me, but I don’t remember the specifics, just that at the time I looked at them and they were convincing”))

              • Comment by False_Keraptis:

                Television is a dangerous beast as well. We’ve all seen it abused, and as much as I enjoy it, I’d agree the world would be better off without it. MMORPGs are more virulent though, because they offer lures that TV can’t: social interaction/obligation and a Skinner-box-style reward schedule.

                As far as hard data go, believe it or not, I disagree with you: they are useful, but eventually one crosses the line from science to scientism. Data are routinely misinterpreted, misunderstood, politicized, massaged, miscollected, and misrepresented. I wasted years of my life studying economics (the king of the cargo-cult sciences), so numbers don’t impress me like they once did, regardless of how convenient they make interpretation and theorizing. I don’t need a weatherman to tell me it’s raining, and I certainly wouldn’t believe him over my own eyes.

                • Comment by Alan Silverman:

                  Data are routinely misinterpreted, misunderstood, politicized, massaged, miscollected, and misrepresented.

                  Which is why–at least, in theory–we have a review process with scientific papers: to try to catch those errors and correct them.

                  You may not need a weatherman to tell you that it’s raining right now, but what has been the trend of rain over the past several decades? Human memory is notoriously fallible, and the human capacity for “discovering” patterns is boundless (just look at people who gamble).

                  I would agree with you that there is a practical sense that must be maintained; you can’t make an experiment out of everything. But for making conclusions about trends, tendencies, frequencies, and anything occurs in aggregate across a population–you need data in aggregate across that population to make such a conclusion. As noted, going based purely on one’s own anecdotes and observations ends up being parochialism–and ultimately, it leads to wrong conclusions.

                  There is a reason Michelson and Morley shined light on mirrors.

                  • Comment by False_Keraptis:

                    There’s a place for data, but there is no cure for human fallibility. We’re awfully good at deluding ourselves, no question, but all too often we just use “hard” numbers to paint a veneer of objectivity over our delusions. The problem is that we forget this; objective-seeming numbers let us honestly believe we’re grappling with reality itself. Have you ever worked a job where the management believed in “metrics?” It’s a farce. There’s no escape from subjectivity, and there’s no substitute for wisdom and common sense, rare and feeble though they may be.

                    Regarding peer review, I’m not impressed. It’s a formalized appeal to authority. I don’t have a better alternative, but the way people invoke it as a talisman of respectability and correctness is ludicrous. The reviewers are just human beings with their own prejudices, and we still have to decide for ourselves what to believe. Do you honestly think Galileo’s findings would have been published in a respectable, peer-reviewed journal? I don’t. I’m sure we can all name several academic disciplines that are wall-to-wall nonsense, and they all employ peer review.

                    • Comment by False_Keraptis:

                      PS: Regarding Michelson and Morley, there’s a reason the other sciences all have physics envy. There’s nothing in the social “sciences” half so concrete, conclusive, and well-thought-out, and there never will be.

                    • Comment by Alan Silverman:

                      Point taken. But I think we are also deluding ourselves if we never look at the numbers and rely entirely on our wisdom and common sense. Common sense told us mold was bad for us–data showed us that maybe we could do some good things with it (such as penicillin).

                      And no, peer review is no talisman. But neither is democracy a perfect government–it’s just better than all the rest out there. We accept the problems, and we work to make it better.

                      As for Galileo’s results in a peer-reviewed journal, I don’t know. He had data to back up his conclusions, which is a lot more than what sometimes gets published these days.

                      (And yes, physics (and chemistry) have it a lot better than the social sciences in terms of their ability to obtain data and do experiments. But that hardly seems a reason to jettison those ideas entirely)

                    • Comment by pcole127:

                      I would like to take a moment to weigh in on this line of discussion. Being one of the many players of City of Heroes, there is a small aspect that may or may not be failed to be observed by False_Keraptis, which is a human element. Unlike many other of the “Offending” MMO’s, COH has built itself on a very unique precipice. Our community is one that takes time to care for itself rather than to delve into a state of superiority complex which many other MMO’s can lead one to.

                      Dr Andreassen, mentioned the need for community as part of the need to consume Human Freetime. The actions being taken by our player base are no less than what would be expected if the Governing body of a city called for an immediate evacuation and dispersal of it’s populace. We may not agree on how the game should proceed forward but there is an agreement that it should sustain.

                      While I will not dare to speak for a player base of around 3 Million or so, I will speak for those I do know and have talked to. This MMO differs primarily in it’s mechanics and ability to both bring about innovative thoughts, solutions, and creates an atmosphere that supports growth at all levels. Is it not that growth and desire to advance and bring about a common, unselfishness what even most religions attempt to strive for? It’s a modern way of looking at Morality, twisting it as an evil does not work unless you understand the deeper mechanics of how the game itself works. This MMO is different, which is why it has lasted 8 years. The Average life of most MMO’s is 3 Years, and even that is generous for some who fail to make any impact at all.

  5. Comment by Darrell:

    Have you looked into DC Universe Online or Champions Online? I tried them both when they first came out and enjoyed DCUO more than CO (exactly the opposite of my expectations) but must admit that neither captured the early magic I felt with City of Heroes.

    • Comment by lampwright:

      John has played D C Universe…but A) He doesn’t have over 200 characters there and B) he says it is fun to play with DC characters, but the system is awkward and limited compared to COH.

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