Thursday, September 6, 2012

NCSoft Closes Paragon Studios, Shuts Down City of Heroes

Those of you who follow me on G+, Facebook, or Twitter saw me post last Friday about NCSoft closing Paragon Studios and shutting down City of Heroes. It was a huge shock to everyone, especially those who worked at Paragon Studios and suddenly found themselves without a job. Just an hour and a half before the announcement, the CoH community team had announced some future content and was giving away game codes on Twitter. Everyone seemed blindsided by the event.

I am late to the party in blogging about this, I know, but I had a lot of real life commitments this past weekend. Not the least of which was the wedding of my baby brother Bryan and his wife Ashley. John and I were on our way to the wedding rehearsal when we got the news, and we moved between fast and furious conversation and stunned silence all the way to the venue. When we got there, we exchanged shocked words with another couple brought together by City of Heroes, my other brother Jon and his girlfriend Kat. We couldn't believe what had happened. 

Though I had already said my goodbyes to City of Heroes, I felt comforted knowing that I could go back any time I wanted and my characters would be right where I left them, ready to go. I was never a roleplayer, per se, but I did put a lot of thought and effort into the creation of my characters. They all had a backstory (some of them quite extensive), a carefully chosen name, a finely honed costume (or five), and a personality. The more I played a character, the more that personality came about, and the more I connected with that character on some level. There were occasions that I just couldn't connect to a character, and they promptly got deleted. In that way, CoH always felt alive. Felt like you were living out your own personal comic book. And I loved that. 

I am glad that I had already emotionally detached from the game before this happened. I've seen some very emotional responses to the news, and I've seen a few that are so over the top it's not even funny. But what is important is to know the facts, and one CoH player took the time to create an extensive timeline of events and debunk a lot of the conspiracy theories. There are also numerous attempts to save the game, though I have yet to hear if any of them are making successful headway. It's also disheartening to receive nothing but silence from NCSoft. Why did Paragon Studios have to be shut down so quickly? Why send everyone packing with no notice? What's the emergency? We may never know, but that won't stop people from guessing.

Though I hate that all the Paragon Studios employees were suddenly, and unexpectedly, terminated, I hold no ill will toward NCSoft. Had they shut the game down gradually, with server merges, going full free-to-play, etc., I would not have been surprised at all. CoH is an eight year old game, and it's showing its age. New MMOs like The Secret World and Guild Wars 2 are leaps and bounds ahead of it in terms of story, setting, maps, game play, quality of life issues, and graphics. Not to mention that both games have a lot of voice acting and good cut scenes (though TSW's cut scenes put the rest to shame). CoH does have a strong and loyal fan base, but I'm not sure how competitive it can be against this new generation of cutting edge MMOs. Not to mention that it has a very flawed and confusing hybrid free to play system that turns a lot of people off. 

That being said, I don't want CoH to close its doors forever. I always assumed it was the Everquest of its genre, the unkillable juggernaut of the super hero MMO genre. And maybe that will end up being the case after all. All we can do now is watch and wait and still what happens.

In closing, I'm going to leave you with a fan video I helped make. I'm the beleaguered blue-haired Blaster, the American woman who's trying to organize the team. In the weeks to come, I'll share more of these and some of my screen shots here and on our fan pages.