City of Heroes is Dead

Trivial as it might sound, this was the only online game I played. This moment 3.00 AM Eastern time, Midnight Pacific, all servers forcibly disconnected. Despite that the game was making money, and despite the rumors that someone might buy the property from NC Soft, the company decided to abolish the game.

I was playing my final character, the Merriest Widow, and was one ‘bubble’ or unit of experience points away from reaching level 50, the final level. Had I had another ten minutes of playtime, or even five, I might have reached the goal. But it was not to be.

We all are delighted with the creative imagination and hard work of the developers of this game, and all — I think I speak for the whole community — feel disappointment (those of us who played heroes) and contempt (those of us who played villains) for the NC Soft management for this freakish and inexplicable decision.

Ave et Vale


  1. Comment by Tom Simon:

    I’m sorry to hear it. As you say, it may sound like a trivial matter; but multiply it by thousands of people and hundreds of instances, and it adds up to a significant drain on the sum total of human happiness. I’ve had games I enjoyed go *poof* in similar ways and can testify that it is seriously annoying.

    On the bright side (if I may refer to your previous post), when the government enacts a law saying that people have to stop earning money after they have a certain amount, this kind of thing will become mandatory:

    This is your Government speaking, and as always, We’re Here to Help You™. Enjoy playing World of Warcraft? Too bad; the owners of WoW have made as much money as they’re allowed, so the Department of Big Nanny has issued a takedown order. Nobody else will be allowed to take over running the game, either. DMCA clearly specifies that the owners of the copyright have to be compensated if someone else uses their intellectual property, and the owners aren’t allowed to receive any more money — so that intellectual property can never be used again. You’re welcome.

  2. Comment by Stephen J.:

    That deeply sucks. I am terribly sorry.

  3. Comment by Scott W.:

    I probably mentioned this before, but NC Soft is a bit notorious for shutting down games that have less than stellar performance (i.e. Guild Wars).

    You might give Lord of the Rings Online a shot. It was thankfully inspired by the books and not the films, but my computer has been woefully out of date for a long time, so I haven’t checked it out recently.

    • Comment by Thingol1014:

      LOTRO is…a blast. But I don’t know if it’s a replacement for the kind of freeform stuff described in CoH.

      Speaking as a LOTRO player on a RPish server, with several characters I’ve got to max level repeatedly, who has repeatedly won player-run musical events.

      Speaking as a Lord of the Rings fan of such INSANE and inappropriate fervor that I met my wife through the fan community and named two of my four children after Silmarillion characters. (The other two are named after Amber characters. Don’t judge me.)

      The world is very cool. The people who play in it (at least on my server) are also very cool. My wife adores it, but I’m a bit too purist to really consider it anything but a shadow of the REAL Middle-earth. (Which lives in my head, of course) They try very hard not to blatantly contradict anything, it’s more of a what-if scenario. It’s been fun for years, anyway.

      For the wife and I, it’s about the RP. We’re both pretty seriously into the musical system, and she loves participating in events based on Elven festivals listed in the peripheral HoME materials. To that end, it’s a smashing success, and I’d say at least worth a look. But there has to be a time for grieving, first.

      • Comment by ProtegeAA:

        I had remained away from heavily involved RPGs for quite some time after getting married and having children.
        That being said, I got into LOTRO and have really enjoyed it. It is free to play. You can pay more one month at a time if you like, and open up more stuff, but you can always disable that and still play your character for free.
        It is as close as an MMO could be to Tolkien’s vision: the character classes are straight from his books, you can’t play a wizard, although you’ll interact with Gandalf and Radagast. I’m reading the Hobbit right now and finding things in there that they brought into the game. It’s really a lot of fun.
        I’m sorry your game bought the farm, although maybe you can find a pirate copy somewhere and set up a home server for you and your friends, but if not, I really recommend looking at LOTRO. Did I mention you can download it free? :-)

        • Comment by Sean Michael:

          Hi, Thingol1014!

          If I’m too inquisitive, then don’t answer my question, but which names from THE SILMARILLION did you use for your children? I’m enough of a Tolkien fan that I pay attention when I come across someone with names from Middle Earth. (Smiles)

          And have you and your wife read THE CHILDREN OF HURIN? I love that book, even though some find it too fierce, dark, and grim.

          And some of my favorite volumes in “The History of Middle Earth” series edited by Christopher Tolkien are: THE LAYS OF BELERIAND, MORGOTH’S RING, and THE PEOPLES OF MIDDLE EARTH. And I am aware of the need to keep in mind that volumes like PEOPLES contains material Tolkien either rejected or had not made up his mind about.

          Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

          • Comment by Thingol1014:

            Mr. Brooks,

            It’s no trouble. If we weren’t willing to explain it, we wouldn’t have named them that way! (At least I don’t have to go into an intra-Elven political discussion with a Tolkien fan.)

            My eldest is named Luthien Tinuviel. Alas, the tree in my backyard is unsuitable for the construction of a flet on which to imprison her when unsuitable mortal suitors come knocking. I’ll make up for it with edged weapon collection.

            And my oldest boy is Maedhros. He is, appropriately, strong, fierce, kind, and loyal, if maybe not the most cautious soul. I plan on discouraging him from activities such as mountain climbing and base jumping, just to be safe.

            We have indeed both read the Narn i chin Hurin. In point of fact, there was some debate over the naming of our son. My dearest wife preferred Turin or Maeglin. I rejected them both strongly, for obvious reasons. Maedhros, hence, was the least tragic compromise we both loved.

            We also have a little one on the way, and have started to settle down on Severian for a boy or Nausicaa for a girl. Both of which are kind of Mr. Wright’s fault, indirectly.

            • Comment by Sean Michael:

              Hi, Thingol1014!

              Thanks for your amusing and interesting explanation! I sorta thought you might have named a daughter after Luthien. So that was no surprise! And I agree with what you said about the good qualities of Maedhros. But, naming your son “Beren” would have matched him with his sister! Or possibly “Hurin” might have made a good name?

              As for “Severian” or “Nausicaa,” the former reminds me of Gene Wolfe’s Severian the Torturer in his “Urth” books. The latter comes, I think, from Homer’s ODYSSEY.

              Sincerely, Sean M. Brooks

            • Comment by lampwright:

              Severian and Nausicca are both great names. What are the names of your Amber kids?

              • Comment by Thingol1014:

                Nausicaa is indeed from the Odyssey, though really inspired by the one from Valley of the Winds, which we watched, technically, on your own strong recommendation, IIRC. Severian is indeed from BotNS. Compelling if ambiguous character, but awesome name.

                My remaining children are Fiona, our hot-tempered red-haired beauty with bewitching powers, and Corwin Benedict. Corwin is still a wee one, so far not living up to either of his namesakes yet. Though he does like to go for the eyes…

      • Comment by Jacob:

        I was always interested in LOTRO, and a friend tried to get me into it…but I must have PVP, lol… I’m a pvp junkie (one of the reasons why I wasn’t a big fan of wow either)…which is why I think I like Eve Online so much. We need a decent Fantasy pvp MMO…

      • Comment by lampwright:

        Our youngest son’s middle name is Oberon.

  4. Comment by Joi_the_Artist:

    When I was 13, my family got the internet for the first time. I rapidly found a network of chat rooms that was relatively tame, and began to make friends. I ended up in a free-form fantasy/sci-fi role play chat, and a whole new world opened up. It was the first time I got to interact with large numbers of fellow geeks.

    One day, we got a message that the network had been bought out, and the chat would be going offline in 30 days. Word spread quickly, and all the regulars made it a point to be there on the final night. I’ll never forget the desperate sense of loss I felt when I refreshed the screen for the final time, and the chat was gone.

    I don’t think I’ve ever entirely gotten over that. Silly, maybe, but I still miss it sometimes.

    I commiserate with your pain, sir.

    • Comment by Jacob:

      As a kid, I used to go on the Scifi Channel’s palace chat a lot. I graduated High School, and went off to Basic…6 months later, when I eventually made my way back online, I found out they shut the chat down (a bunch of fans and old moderators did eventually set up another server). It was a sad day. And yeah, growing up in a rural town, I rarely got to talk to fellow geeks. There was a lot I missed out on…being social…tabletop games…RPGs….etc… I loved having people to talk to for once.

  5. Comment by Erik:

    There is a strange and fascinating ontology going on, and this is reminiscent of a conversation I was having the other day about the way some imaginary siderooms of the mental world are more real to us than some parts of the real world. Consider how much more vivid and tangible to many of us are places like, say, Hogwarts, or the Shire, than real places we’ve never visited or even read particularly much about—in my case, for instance, Kazakhstan (if I’ve misspelled it, that merely makes my case all the more!). Little wonder, then, if we feel a meaningful sense of loss when such parts of our “world” disappear, leaving it a smaller place than before.

  6. Comment by Nostreculsus:

    How sad.

    This will either cheer you up or upset you. I just bought your new thriller The Hermetic Millennia. But how is that possible when the book is supposedly unavailable until December 24th?

  7. Comment by Fr. Josh Miller:

    Definitely a bummer. I had a good time with City of Heroes back in the day.

    I think one of the reasons NC Soft would do such a thing: resource allocation. They’re making Scrooge McDuck quantities off of Guild Wars 2 right now (the best MMO I’ve ever played, for what it’s worth), but of course it takes resources to keep the game going strong. They’re probably riding that wave out at the moment.

    Still, a true bummer.

  8. Comment by drfuzz:

    You have my condolences. I know those of us still playing Everquest do so with the knowledge that one day it, too, shall pass away. I doubt there will be another game like City of Heroes – it wasn’t my cup of tea, but I could see why some people would like it. It’s a shame these things arent made available to others to run.

  9. Comment by Suburbanbanshee:

    The bereaved might enjoy reading “Rossum’s Ultimate Revenge,” a fellow-player’s farewell to City of Heroes in the form of fanfic about his character. I think it’s rather a nice ending story.

    And yes, it’s the same Gryphon from rec.anime.

  10. Comment by Dirigibletrance:

    I’m rather surprised to see you complain about this.

    NCSoft is a private company. City of Heroes was their product and IP. They had the right to do whatever they wished with it. The fact is, while it was making money, it was not making very much, and profits and well as subscriber-count were falling every month. In the long run, keeping it open would eventually have been a money-losing proposition.

    The leadership of the company would not have shut the studio and the game down without if there were more profitable alternatives. As for not selling the IP to another company, why hand a competitor something they could potentially use against you? Let the other companies come up with thier own creative, superhero-themed MMO.

  11. Comment by Fr. Terry Donahue, CC:

    It appears that NCSoft is taking significant flak for the decision to shut down City of Heroes.

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