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News & Features Discussion  » [General Article] City of Heroes: Profitable or Not?

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252 posts found
  lizardbones

Elite Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10507

I've become dependent upon spell check. My apologies for stupid grammatical errors.

1/04/13 4:16:47 PM#121


Originally posted by WildFire15

Originally posted by lizardbones  

Originally posted by WildFire15

Originally posted by lizardbones   If you look at their earnings reports going back to Q3 of 2010, even if the game has not been losing people, it has been making less and less money.  
Matt Miller, the game's lead designer, confirmed CoH was making more money when it went F2P then it ever had. Are you telling us he's completely clueless or lying?
Do you guys even read what people are typing? The game was making less money in Q2 of 2012 than it did in Q3 or Q4 of 2010. It was making less and less money over time. If Matt Miller says otherwise, then he needs to go over NCSoft's financial reports. The ones that can get them sued, which leads me to think they are probably accurate. The game is dead. NCSoft will not suffer because of this. Get over it.  
Well, if you don't believe the word of someone who was actually involved in the studio then really there's no hope for you. In future, you may have to go through an unreasonable shut down of your own game and you'll be shocked to see we'll actually be on your side, working out the reasons behind the shut down.



Really? Their financial reports are right there, on the internet for anyone to see. They record the sales for their games, with numbers in black and white. They can be sued by investors for lying about those numbers. They can be sued for getting those numbers wrong for any reason. I'll take the financial reports that can get a company sued over the word of a designer who isn't involved in reporting financials to investors.

For every large, complex problem, there is a simple, clear solution that also happens to be absolutely wrong.

  logandwj

Novice Member

Joined: 8/24/10
Posts: 26

1/04/13 4:18:09 PM#122
Originally posted by JohnR
Thank you for this article and continuing to cover this story!  Like many CoH fans, I just want my MMO back, optimally with the same development team (yeah I know a total pipe dream.)  I've felt if we could understand why NCSoft closed CoH when so many indicators were there that it was profitable, that it was reaching  profit targets under both subscription and free2play models, it seems irrational to close it, and equally irrational not to sell the IP to another publisher.  Kuddos for getting NCSoft to talk to MMORPG.com!!!  I still wish NCSoft would be more open about this and would work with the fans to get City of Heroes restored.   They really did the CoH community a huge disservice by closing it and thus far seem to be resisting efforts for the MMO to come back, or even just talk to people.  I hope MMORPG journalists will continue contacting NCSoft; the two sides of this story  are so very different!  The truth lies in their internal accounting, which of course they could distort, lie about, or simply not divulge.  Thanks again for this article!  /em holdtorch

I would like to echo this sentiment. Thank you so much, MMORPG.com. You're doing good work here. We need to keep this story in the limelight because it is important not just to City of Heroes fans and gamers, but to ALL MMO players. The seemingly irrational nature of the closing of COH and the near complete stonewall of silence that NCSoft has hidden behind (only just now beginning to show cracks - thus their attempts at "damage control" by calling people liars who have merely pointed out the facts) are wake-up calls to the entire industry.

 

MMO makers and publishers need to be aware of just how badly this whole situation was handled by NCSoft so that they learn by example and never do things like that themselves. 

 

This is not to say that games should be kept in perpetuity forever. Companies have the right (and the obligation to their stockholders) to make money and profits. But as long as a game is profitable, don't alienate your potential customers by closing it down, sitting on the IP and refusing to sell it or allow the game to be run privately. That way lies public relations NIGHTMARE.

 

In short - don't do what NCSoft has done if you want to remain viable as a game publisher. 

-Logan
----------
"Wake UP! Time for SCIENCE!"
-Adam Savage "Mythbusters"
----------

  Starsman

Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/18/12
Posts: 14

1/04/13 4:20:50 PM#123
Originally posted by lizardbones

 


Originally posted by Starsman

Originally posted by lizardbones Do you guys even read what people are typing? The game was making less money in Q2 of 2012 than it did in Q3 or Q4 of 2010. It was making less and less money over time. If Matt Miller says otherwise, then he needs to go over NCSoft's financial reports. The ones that can get them sued, which leads me to think they are probably accurate.
Simple question: Q2, 2012, did City of Heroes did less than it did in Q2, 2011?


Yup.

 

Wrong. You did not even bother to check.

They saw a 2% growth. In fact, the last 3 quarters together saw an average growth of 1% (6%, -5%, 2% for 11Q4, 12Q1 and 12Q2 respectively) and the one quarter with loss (12Q1) showed traction on the loss (that quarter was historically a big loser, they halved loss rate this last year.)

Overall, for the last 3 reported quarters, the game was in an upswing. And mind you: I am still double checking something else in the accounting, because it appears NCSoft was not reporting Cash Shop revenue into the game's quarterly report revenue line. The huge increase attributed to F2P by everyone (NCSoft included) is nowhere to be seen in the reports.

But it's good to know you are not actually looking at the reports.

  Starsman

Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/18/12
Posts: 14

1/04/13 4:23:37 PM#124
Originally posted by lizardbones
** edit **
I went back to Q3 of 2010. Each quarter, the game made less money, with the exception of Q4 of 2011.

 

 Ah so now you looked. And you still see it as every quarter... for exception of 2 (out of 3....) since the game went F2P are losses...

  lizardbones

Elite Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10507

I've become dependent upon spell check. My apologies for stupid grammatical errors.

1/04/13 4:29:15 PM#125


Originally posted by Starsman

Originally posted by lizardbones ** edit ** I went back to Q3 of 2010. Each quarter, the game made less money, with the exception of Q4 of 2011.  
 Ah so now you looked. And you still see it as every quarter... for exception of 2 (out of 3....) since the game went F2P are losses...


I have no idea what the F2P date was, and I never mentioned whether the game was profitable or not. The game's sales dropped. Each peak exception quarter was less than the previous exception quarter before it. The game steadily earned less money over time. There's no way to know if the money made was profitable or not.

** edit **
Just put the total sales into a spreadsheet and do a trend line. It'll be pointing down.

For every large, complex problem, there is a simple, clear solution that also happens to be absolutely wrong.

  Starsman

Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/18/12
Posts: 14

1/04/13 4:37:04 PM#126
Originally posted by lizardbones
I have no idea what the F2P date was, and I never mentioned whether the game was profitable or not. The game's sales dropped. Each peak exception quarter was less than the previous exception quarter before it. The game steadily earned less money over time. There's no way to know if the money made was profitable or not.

** edit **
Just put the total sales into a spreadsheet and do a trend line. It'll be pointing down.

F2P was a few days shy of Q4, 2011. Draw your Trend line from that point, and it will be pointing up.

  moosecatlol

Novice Member

Joined: 8/25/10
Posts: 1170

1/04/13 4:39:59 PM#127
Stale combat was the biggest reason none of my friends could get into the game.
  jimdandy26

Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/28/12
Posts: 559

1/04/13 4:57:15 PM#128
I really have to agree with much of the "rabid fanboy" sentiment expressed here. Merely "holding your own" really is the sign of a dieing game, especially with development costs going up. Whether the game was making a profit or not is immaterial if it was not making "enough" of a profit to justify its existance. To companies posting the sorts of numbers that Ncsoft does, $4m is chump change. Also, to all of those arguing about developer wages, $50k is very much on the low end atleast according to this http://gamasutra.com/view/news/167355/Game_Developer_reveals_2011_Game_Industry_Salary_Survey_results.php#.UOddOXfNkbo

I did battle with ignorance today, and ignorance won.

To exercise power costs effort and demands courage. That is why so many fail to assert rights to which they are perfectly entitled - because a right is a kind of power but they are too lazy or too cowardly to exercise it. The virtues which cloak these faults are called patience and forbearance.

  logandwj

Novice Member

Joined: 8/24/10
Posts: 26

1/04/13 5:05:19 PM#129
Originally posted by jtcgs
Originally posted by logandwj

In return, I paraphrase what you yourself said above - the above alone is enough to debunk what this person is saying as nothing more than a bitter fan of NCSoft, pretending to have played City of Heroes. 

 

 in return, I paraphrase what you yourself said above - the above alone is enough to debunk what this person is saying as nothing more than a bitter fanboy of CoH, pretending to have read the thread...and not seen that I already proved someone calling me a liar wrong with a link to the games OWN WIKI stating the world server merge that was long demanded by fans to take care of the low population problems by letting everyone around the world play together.

 

You proved nothing. In fact, read below and see where you yourself were already debunked before I even made my statements.

 

 

Originally posted by jtcgs

http://wiki.cohtitan.com/wiki/Servers

The European servers were merged with the American servers because of LOW POPULATION ISSUES. They had to open the game up so all players around the world could chose to play with those in other areas. Even their own WIKI shows 9 of the 15 servers with LOW populations even AFTER the world merging of servers.

And YES, it is a MERGER...even THEY called it one.

 

Starsman writes: 

 

There was NEVER a server merger in CoH. You may be thinking about the consolidation of all servers into a single data-warehouse hosted in the US, before that EU players were forced to play on servers that had their own datacenter, without any ability to ever roll a character to play with US friends. The merger allowed people to play in any server from any region, that was all that ever "merged."

This alone is reason to debunk your grasp on the game, you don't even realize that servers never merged yet pretend to know the community's feel?

--------------------

Server LIST merger. Not Server Merger. Don't play dumb, you know "server merger due to low population" means to merge populations of two individual servers, and that was never done.

And "Low" was not empty, I played in one of the "emptiest" servers and it was very active. All servers went through a lot of upgrades over the years, with Freedom getting the biggest upgrade. Servers basically reported LOW at the stress level where they reported MEDIUM at launch.

--------------------

Want to try again? We can keep doing this all day and the results will be the same. Now if you simply made an honest mistake and misremembered or misunderstood what happened, then the thing to do would be to "man-up" and admit it. Don't just double-down and call us liars. The facts are on our side. 

 

Now I'm going to ask you a serious question. 

 

Why are you defending the indefensible? What is it that you get out of these arguments? Why do you and others feel the need to use half-truths and outright un-truths to bolster your viewpoint? 

 

I'm sitting here trying to figure out what your actual beef is. 

 

I mean seriously - what the hell, man? You claim to have played the game and liked it. I find that a little difficult to believe when you are so vitriolic against it. Were you hurt by City of Heroes? Did some clique within the game reject you? Did you not like how PVP was handled? (Even I didn't like the Issue 13 changes.) 

 

I mean seriously - what IS IT with you people? The game is dead, and you're still jumping up and down on the grave like you're afraid it will come back to life!

 

Is it that you are fans/players of some other game that NCSoft produces and you're afraid the negative publicity will hurt that? 

 

I'm dead serious in asking this. Asking reasonable questions about the facts of the article is one thing - and several people above have made reasonable arguments about the business end of things. But you've gone way beyond that. You've gotten to the point of bashing for the sake of bashing. 

 

I could simply chalk it up to you and those like you being trolls and doing it "For the LULZ" but I don't think that covers it. 

 

Perhaps I'm making a mistake by attempting to engage in a serious conversation with you. I hope not. If so, we can go back to vitriol. I can do that, too. 

-Logan
----------
"Wake UP! Time for SCIENCE!"
-Adam Savage "Mythbusters"
----------

  HighMarshal

Hard Core Member

Joined: 7/24/03
Posts: 242

1/04/13 5:12:36 PM#130
All I have to say is that I have restructured my gaming interests to not include any title that has NCSOFT on the box.
  logandwj

Novice Member

Joined: 8/24/10
Posts: 26

1/04/13 5:13:20 PM#131

Reposting on behalf of chasearcanum from Titan who apparently had an account here but can't currently get in for some reason. 

--------------------

Look at shutdowns that have gone in the past.  Many of the companies have found it profitable and acceptable to pare down resources but leave the servers running until populations are much MUCH smaller than ours were.  This is a community-centric approach that lets the community continue to experience the game as long as the company isn't losing money.  Updates may be slower/fewer, but the servers stay on.  Many MMOs last a very long time in that.

What causes a more abrupt shutdown of an MMO?
* Licensing issues. Look at SWG.  The Lucasarts license expired.  Lucasarts kept the license renewed until the new star wars mmo flagship was about to launch, but then terminated it.  Even then, SWG's population was measurably smaller by all metrics and I'd heard jokes that internally SOE's SWG dev team had been pared down so much it was sometimes jokingly said the next step would be "the intern under the stairs."

For CoH, the IP wouldn't be an issue, but there may have been other licensing expenses.  NCSoft's account management systems and the CoH marketplace were both middleware components that would likely be licensed rather than purchased.  It could be that the way the fees were determined, they were costlier when applied to the CoH business model (for example).  if poorly negotiated, there could be all sorts of agreements that have unforseen costs.

* Performance issues.  This is what NCSoft used to justify TabulaRasa & AutoAssault, for example.  Both were killed quickly after launch.  On the back-end, both contained significant performace/stability issues that required much more resources to keep them afloat.... even if they cut all new content development to the bone, they just would require too many resources and/or too much development time chasing bugs to make things work.  True or not, that explains an abrupt shutdown.

For CoH, this is anything BUT likely.  From everything we know, CoH was lean, stable, and streamlined rather well in this regard.

* Platform issues.  I've experienced this personally- Worked on maintaining a product that we *had to* retire.  It relied on 3rd party components that only worked on an older server OS and the security risks of that older server OS meant we HAD TO upgrade.  Retiring the product was less operationally painful than trying to get it running on the new OS with custom-made parts.

For CoH, I rate this is "unlikely"-- its possible-- this was the original dev team's first foray into mmo's so they may have unwittingly "painted themselves into a few corners" when it came to platform, portability, and upgradability, but I've neither seen nor heard any hint of such issues on CoH.

*Ego Although I listed Tabula Rasa under performance, I believe that its shutdown was more driven by ego.  NCsoft loves a blockbuster.  They were HUGE in Asia and hoped to have proportional success in the US market.  They hired a legend, gave him a blank check for his "blank slate" and expected great things that never arrived.  It was an embarrassment.

What would MORE embarrassing and damaging to ego would be a near-pullout of the US/Euro market.  At the time, with so little working for them, CoH was a small-but-stable anchor that gave them a face-saving example of success in the western market.  It didn't fit with their current lineup.  It didn't fit with their internal philosophy.  It didn't reflect what they wanted to do or be, but it could be pointed to as a financial success, given the money they invested into it and the return they got.  Once GWII came out- something closer to their styles and philosophies, but still uniquely catered to western likings- they had something they could point to as one of their own... more or less...  then, they could finally cut away that redheaded stepchild CoH.   I consider this "more likely than the other reasons given.

* Finally, there's Resources  One thing that bugged me when rumors of buyers being snubbed was the "why?"  Well, any sale would likely have included the provision that NCSoft continue operations of CoH until hosting and account management could be transferred to a compatible system, and that meant keeping those resources locked up on CoH servers. 

What if they had already planned a use for those resources?

City of Heroes runs on virtual servers, but those servers have very real resources allocated to them.  Launching a new title in a new market requires a HUGE investment in new server resources... or you repurpose ones you already have.  Killing a less-profitable product that doesn't fit your design philosophies with one you hope will rake in the money (NCSoft is constantly shooting for blockbusters) so you can use their resources seems logical to the businessman that doesn't think much of its customer base.

NCSoft was preparing for a Blade & Soul launch in the US not long after the server resources would be freed from the CoH shutdown.  That would offset some of the cost of the B&S launch.  Having a profitable launch is both about reducing costs AND decent sales.  Given that NCSoft's track record in bringing their asian titles to the US, making this launch as cost-effective as possible may have been very critical to the egos (see above) of well-placed people.... people that couldn't allow those CoH resources to remain locked away.  This is purely conjecture, but mostly due to my own experience, I find it to be plausible conjecture.

--------------------

-Logan
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"Wake UP! Time for SCIENCE!"
-Adam Savage "Mythbusters"
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  nyxium

Novice Member

Joined: 3/15/09
Posts: 1199

Tumbling down the rabbit hole?

1/04/13 5:23:15 PM#132
Very shadowy and sinister. Was a fan. Money under the table, cloak & dagger stuff. Not impressed.

  Ironwolf21

Novice Member

Joined: 12/16/12
Posts: 6

1/04/13 5:49:15 PM#133

Server merges were done to move to NCSoft hosting sites in Texas.

 

You quote Wiki? I was playing the game the entire time. The servers were moved out of Europe due to finding overall the latency was not even an issue. Having all servers in one site saved money and allowed them to run as virtual servers not single hardware units.

I lived through it. I saw what they did and took part in all of the stress tests.

 

Now here is the cautionary tale for those who play MMO's - when is YOUR game not making enough? In the past we saw the usual death spiral. NCSoft has closed 5 MMO's on an instant, they didn't slowly drop and in fact City of Heroes was improving with every issue. Issue 24 was possibly the best issue ever in the games history and was never released to live.

All of this with literally ZERO advertising. During a time when Superheroes went wild in the public eye - what the players of CoH want is very simple - let the IP go.

 

  logandwj

Novice Member

Joined: 8/24/10
Posts: 26

1/04/13 6:09:32 PM#134
Originally posted by Ironwolf21

Now here is the cautionary tale for those who play MMO's - when is YOUR game not making enough? In the past we saw the usual death spiral. NCSoft has closed 5 MMO's on an instant, they didn't slowly drop and in fact City of Heroes was improving with every issue. Issue 24 was possibly the best issue ever in the games history and was never released to live.

All of this with literally ZERO advertising. During a time when Superheroes went wild in the public eye - what the players of CoH want is very simple - let the IP go.

 

Indeed. At this point I wouldn't WANT NCSoft to take back the reins and re-open the game. I wouldn't trust them not to try and kill it AGAIN. 

 

Just sell the game/IP/code to a responsible game publisher and allow us to have our city back. 

 

And the point about other games being at risk is a good one. I don't want to see what happened to Paragon happen to Arenanet and Carbine. But I am almost certain that it WILL happen. Maybe not this year. Maybe not next. But at some point, the axe will fall, and then NCSoft will have another pair of corpses for their MMOKiller throne to sit on top of.

 

There are graceful and respectful ways to end a game. Look at the recent closure of Glitch. (A game I wish I had played, now.) They did it the RIGHT way. The devs of that game respected their customers, were open with them as to why the game had to close, and did everything possible to make the experience as painless as possible and give people good memories of the game. 

 

NCSoft's way of treating a game and their customers by contrast has all the warmth and personality of a hooded, silent executioner whose only concession to your comfort is to make his blade as sharp as possible so that he only has to chop your neck a single time to go all the way through. 

-Logan
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"Wake UP! Time for SCIENCE!"
-Adam Savage "Mythbusters"
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  jimdandy26

Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/28/12
Posts: 559

1/04/13 6:15:12 PM#135
Originally posted by Ironwolf21
Now here is the cautionary tale for those who play MMO's - when is YOUR game not making enough? In the past we saw the usual death spiral. NCSoft has closed 5 MMO's on an instant, they didn't slowly drop and in fact City of Heroes was improving with every issue. Issue 24 was possibly the best issue ever in the games history and was never released to live.

All of this with literally ZERO advertising. During a time when Superheroes went wild in the public eye - what the players of CoH want is very simple - let the IP go.

 

I highly disagree with this statement entirely because I have seen "my" game die. Some franchises change so much that they are no longer really recognizable from where they began, it is the way of things. Its really no different than other forms of media. We see these sorts of cancelations all the time with tv shows. Some are kept around long enough to make it to sindication (Fringe) and some are cancelled because they do not make enough money thats its worthwhile to keep them around (Eureka). Either way, IF there truly were enough fans around to keep it going, it would be. The simple fact is no matter how much your protest, its dead and gone, and will stay dead and gone because the few times they have tested those waters it was a failure. Look at the letter writing campaign to CBS to save Jericho, and even after all of that fan effort, it was still cancelled after the 2nd season again due to ratings. I do empathize that you love the game enough to go to all of this trouble, but the simple fact is, you are part of a minority that feel that way. NcSoft have no acted irresponsibly in this matter at all based on all of the "evidence" profided in this thread. Even as your fellow fanboy postulates that it was closed down as a matter of ego, its still well within thier responsibility to do so.

I did battle with ignorance today, and ignorance won.

To exercise power costs effort and demands courage. That is why so many fail to assert rights to which they are perfectly entitled - because a right is a kind of power but they are too lazy or too cowardly to exercise it. The virtues which cloak these faults are called patience and forbearance.

  LeperDave

Novice Member

Joined: 12/15/12
Posts: 7

1/04/13 6:55:10 PM#136

"It is disappointing that such inaccurate information was provided to MMORPG by an anonymous source and is being reported on as news. The operating cost, annual revenue figures and other financial information shared by this anonymous source are simply wrong. The studio was unprofitable before the shutdown. Both NCSOFT and Paragon Studios were incredibly proud of the transition of City of Heroes to a Free to Play business model, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to support the studio’s needs. We made the difficult decision to close Paragon Studios and sunset City of Heroes because the franchise no longer aligned with the long term profitability goals for the company."

Let's examine this statement closely, shall we?

"The studio was unprofitable before the shutdown" Of course it wasn't. By the time of the actual shut down NCSOFT had not collected a single cent from anyone for 3 month, and in fact had dished out refunds

"We made the difficult decision to close Paragon Studios and sunset City of Heroes because the franchise no longer aligned with the long term profitability goals... "  Again, this does NOT say that the game wasn't earning a profit in at the time of the announcement, or even that it wouldn't continue to do so had they kept the game going.

This reek of corporate double speak it isn't even funny. Mr. Davis I have one question for you: When are you going to run for office? You'd make a great politician.

  lizardbones

Elite Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10507

I've become dependent upon spell check. My apologies for stupid grammatical errors.

1/04/13 7:02:23 PM#137


Originally posted by Starsman

Originally posted by lizardbones I have no idea what the F2P date was, and I never mentioned whether the game was profitable or not. The game's sales dropped. Each peak exception quarter was less than the previous exception quarter before it. The game steadily earned less money over time. There's no way to know if the money made was profitable or not. ** edit ** Just put the total sales into a spreadsheet and do a trend line. It'll be pointing down.
F2P was a few days shy of Q4, 2011. Draw your Trend line from that point, and it will be pointing up.



DOH! I wasn't reading those charts right. I offer no excuse other than I was at work and not really paying that much attention to the charts.

This won't look right, but here are the numbers. These are in millions of Won, so 1,000 is 1 billion Won.

2010 Q1 3,348
2010 Q2 3,491
2010 Q3 5,709
2010 Q4 3,239
2011 Q1 3,055
2011 Q2 2,787 <- Sales drop below 3B Won
2011 Q3 2,812 <- F2P transition starts
2011 Q4 3,435 <- F2P sales hit, well above 3B Won
2012 Q1 2,890 <- sales drop below 3B Won
2012 Q2 2,855 <- sales steady, still below 3B Won
2012 Q3 ?,??? <- game closes

Overall, the game's sales were a downward trend. They did get a boost from the F2P transition, and something in Q3 of 2010, but those boosts in sales were temporary.

I don't think it was the game's sales trends that got it closed, I think the game needed sales of 3B Won to stay open and not have NCSoft mess with the game. It dropped below the 3B point and went F2P. It dropped below the 3B point again and NCSoft closed the game.

For every large, complex problem, there is a simple, clear solution that also happens to be absolutely wrong.

  3-4thElf

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/03/12
Posts: 485

1/04/13 7:05:15 PM#138

I bet the software for City of Heroes 2 is out there.

After the business shuffle NC's going through finishes we'll get it. I mean competing sequel MMOs never panned out as a good idea.

a yo ho ho

  WildFire15

Novice Member

Joined: 12/15/12
Posts: 12

1/04/13 7:10:57 PM#139
Originally posted by 3-4thElf

I bet the software for City of Heroes 2 is out there.

After the business shuffle NC's going through finishes we'll get it. I mean competing sequel MMOs never panned out as a good idea.

I don't think it ever left the planning stages, sadly

  3-4thElf

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/03/12
Posts: 485

1/04/13 7:13:25 PM#140
Originally posted by WildFire15
Originally posted by 3-4thElf

I bet the software for City of Heroes 2 is out there.

After the business shuffle NC's going through finishes we'll get it. I mean competing sequel MMOs never panned out as a good idea.

I don't think it ever left the planning stages, sadly

Hey if people can think 9/11 was an inside job and Elvis was an alien then I can dream..

But I can say I remember seeing some inside info of my own 2 years ago to the contrary. Might have evolved into the Minecraft/LOST sort of game. Still, the IP still exists. If it's purchasable someone could make a profit from a part duex.

a yo ho ho

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