Many who are outside the recent City of Heroes hoopla may not understand why some players are kicking up such a fuss. After all, it’s just a game, right? And nobody really plays it anymore since Champions Online came out, right? And it’s just like WoW except with superheroes, right?
Wrong, times three. Today, I will prove why City of Heroes deserves to stay around, with five logical reasons that I think even Spock would be proud of.
It Has a Growing Loyal (And Paying) Playerbase
Many people are under the impression that City of Heroes transformed into a completely “free-to-play” game within the last year. That is simply not true. While there is a free-to-play option within the game, it does not allow for the complete game experience–you must be VIP, or paying about $15 a month, to experience the full game.
That said, most people who were VIP members before Free-To-Play released have maintained their VIP membership, and many who started as Free-To-Play players ended up buying VIP subscriptions, so City of Heroes was still pulling in money when NCSoft announced the November 30th closure date unexpectedly on August 31st. I don’t know exactly how much money, but I do know City of Heroes was earning more than NCSoft’s other games (Lineage II, Aion, and Guild Wars).
If the current “Save CoH” Change.org petition with over 20,000 signatures represents all currently paying players, that could potentially mean an income of over $3,600,000 per year. That may not be big chunks of change to a large company, but it’s definitely something! And with the Free-to-Play system tempting more and more customers into the game, that could mean potentially even more customers who will want to buy full game access.
It’s Unlike Any MMO Out There Today
And yes, this reasoning does count Champions Online and DC Online. City of Heroes, despite these other two MMOs named, is still the only superhero MMO to have its own specific series of comic books, with rich backstory lore, a highly-detailed and much-lauded costume creator, and yet fairly simple game mechanics (as I’ll refer to in my next reason).
Its main competitor, Champions Online, was created by the people who originally spearheaded City of Heroes in the first place, and is linked to the Champions paper RPG game. DC Online, as the name might imply, is based on the DC Comics universe.
Champions Online Differences
- Not as good a costume creator
- Less flexible archetypes/harder to customize
- Based more on a Dungeons & Dragons-esque stat system (more stats, more calculations, etc.)
DC Online Differences
- Generally have to play along the lines of an established DC hero/villain
- DCO has no “in-between” alignments like Vigilante and Rogue–only Hero and Villain
- Can only make 16 characters per server, as opposed to CoH’s unlimited unlockable character slots
In addition, City of Heroes is the only MMO, to my knowledge, which allows players to create their own playable content within the game engine itself. Not only is CoH a haven of original heroes, but it encourages creativity in its players!
There are many players out there who have tried Champions Online and DC Online in place of City of Heroes, and most if not all have returned to City of Heroes, often citing the very reasons stated above. I believe that speaks for itself, and establishes City of Heroes’ credibility and originality within the sphere of available MMOs.
It’s Easier to Learn
From personal experience observing other MMO playstyles versus City of Heroes’ style, I can definitively say that City of Heroes is much easier to learn, and thus quicker to enjoy. There are simply less bars and graphs and things to monitor on screen; it feels like a game rather than hard work to try to play successfully. Not only that, but the customization and amount of creativity allowed makes it more personal, more of a platform for one’s own imagination rather than just playing within a strict “mold” of “what wins PvP battles.”
Many of my fellow gamers have noted this as well, saying that playing CoH is more relaxing and therefore more fun to continue playing. After all, if a game is not fun, who wants to pay to play it month after month? Even former WoW players have noticed the positive difference, and have enjoyed it.
It’s Already a Well-Established, Well-Loved Game
Many people who do not play City of Heroes currently have said that it’s well past time for City of Heroes to be put out to pasture, since the game began “way back” in 2004.
It’s interesting to note that the people who are saying this have no idea of the updates and new features that have been added. If they have any experience with the game at all, their information is several years old at best–they quit playing and have not kept up with all the amazing changes (especially recent changes). In fact, a new issue (ironically titled “Resurgence”) was going to be released in early September, fixing many bugs and introducing more new content–or, at least, it was going to be released until the unexpected closure announcement.
This game is already well-established with players as a familiar and welcome respite from other MMOs. It’s not World of Warcraft or League of Legends, nor is it trying to be. It’s got its own little niche, and most of the players who are on now have been playing a long time and plan to be playing as long as the game exists. This is not a game you beat one time and sell back; it’s a long-term experience, with hundreds of hours of effort put in, and just as many hours of enjoyment received.
And as for the “it’s an old game, it needs to end” argument, let me give an apt comparison: would any gamer want to see his or her collection of old console video games burned, just because they’re considered “old games?” That is essentially what the City of Heroes community is being threatened with–the total annihilation of painstakingly-created characters, and permanent loss of access to a rich gaming world.
It Has Tons of Features AND Room to Grow, Too
Building on my previous points, I will conclude with this reasoning: the game is already a well-rendered world with hundreds of stories to play through and dozens of ways to diversify characters. Yet it still has much detail that can be explored through future game expansions, not least the post-level 50 content which is still in its infancy.
This “city of heroes” has room to expand, room to build new areas and construct new stories. It even has the ability for players to create their own playable stories, as I referenced earlier. There’s plenty of opportunity and plenty of future in City of Heroes; why must it be razed to the ground?
That is our point, as City of Heroes players: it does not need to be.
Join the “Save CoH” Effort
Even though NCSoft doesn’t want us to write letters anymore (according to yesterday’s press release, anyway), there are still things we can do to make noise about this.
- Communicate with any game company you can think of who might even remotely be interested in buying CoH, or starting up a game that uses the same character files so we don’t all lose our hard work
- Sign the Change.org petition
- Email local news stations, internet news channels, and anyone else who might be able to further publicize the need to save this game
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