UPDATE (Tuesday, September 18)
Hey all, good news. As I indicated in my update yesterday, I asked for an e-mail address that we could use to send messages to NCsoft without interfering with company operations. Today, I received the following: "I asked about setting up a monitored email address for players to be able to communicate with NCsoft, and one has been created at: COHSunset@ncsoft.com." (Emphasis mine.)
Now I know that some of you are thinking, "But that wont do any good!" but I'd like to point out that 1) you don't know that, and 2) they most certainly did not have to do this; I appreciate that not only did they, but they did it very quickly, which shows to me that they are listening. I honestly believe that someone will be reading these messages. Accordingly, please don't use it to grind your ax at NCsoft or e-mail bomb it. If you do, that will most certainly assure that it gets redirected to a black hole never to be read again, which would be screwing over your fellow players, not NCsoft.
UPDATE (Monday, September 17)
I have received a request from NCsoft to remove these addresses from being publicly posted. I have decided to comply, and I wanted to make sure everyone understands my reasons for doing so.
- I read up on the legalities of the situation before posting this Call to Action, and I am convinced that I am well within my rights to do what I did. However, I want NCsoft to understand that this isn't about exercising legal rights, it is about trying to reach people with the ultimate authority to determine the fate of City of Heroes. I have said all along that this is not a campaign of annoyance or denial of service and repeatedly requested that the community be respectful and positive and constructive. Having read many of your e-mails, I believe that this goal was achieved admirably and that our community was well-represented.
- I believe that everyone in our community who would want to contact management at NCsoft has now had ample opportunity to do so. Accordingly, I do want to minimize the opportunity for others who might have an ax to grind with NCsoft in the future to come along and find this information and use it for ill purposes.
- I believe that by now, executive management at NCsoft has gotten adequate representation of our community, for better or for worse. While we could continue sending e-mails, by now I'm sure that they will likely not be read. If you didn't get a chance to convey your story, I apologize, but such is the nature of some of these calls to action, that they will be time-sensitive.
- Even though it is not an especially positive response, it is not an especially negative or threatening one, either. Frankly, I expected a bit worse than it is. Accordingly, I want to extend them the courtesy of complying with the request as a good-faith gesture.
So I'm going to go ahead and take down the addresses. In return, I will ask for an address or addresses to which we can continue sending e-mail without interfering with the company's operations.
Again, I want to make this crystal clear: I was not threatened by NCsoft; it was a request, one I am voluntarily complying with as a sign of good faith. The intention was never to interfere with company operations. It was to give the NCsoft executive management team an unfiltered glimpse into our community, warts and all, but mostly loyal and dedicated customers making up a community they helped to build and should be proud of.
I'll let you know if I hear anything else. In the meantime, we're going to consider this project closed, and there is no further need to e-mail NCsoft executives. Thanks a ton to everyone who did send e-mails. I've read some of them and they truly were exceptional.
ORIGINAL POST (edited to remove e-mail addresses)
So here's the situation. Two weeks ago today, we received word that NCsoft is closing Paragon Studios and shutting down City of Heroes. Since that time, the community has pulled together with amazing strength and clarity. Our story has been published on over two hundred news sites and blogs, we've gotten notable personalities including Mercedes Lackey (who has unwaveringly supported and promoted this game for years), Neil Gaiman, Sean Astin, Felicia Day, Scott Kurtz, Tara Platt, John Kovalic, and John C. Wright to support us. I personally have been on an Internet streaming radio show, and a pre-recorded interview from yesterday is due to be played on a broadcast radio station tomorrow. Our community has reached out even further through social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, through user-submitted articles such as iReports on CNN (one of which was vetted by a producer), posts on other gaming forums to rally our extended community to our cause, and we have touched literally millions of people.
Over the past two weeks, I have tried my best to communicate with NCsoft. I have been copying upper-level management on our press releases as well as sending e-mails imploring them to talk to us or provide some sign that our Option A--allowing Paragon Studios to acquire the game--is being seriously considered. I presented this not as a demand or even as charity, but in clear terms of how this would benefit NCsoft both financially and in terms of public relations not just to the City of Heroes community, but to the community of gamers--their customers--as a whole. I have tried to convey that I respect their business decision, but that there are alternatives in which we all can win and that our community can avoid being needlessly destroyed as a casualty of a strategic realignment.
Unfortunately, I have heard nothing back from them but silence, the silence is deafening, and now we are at serious risk of losing even if we win. Our development team is a highly qualified group of people with proven talents in developing successful games. We have undoubtedly lost some through finding other employment, and we are at the time now where if we don't fall through to our next course of action, our window of opportunity for retaining the people who made this place great will be irrevocably closed.
TL;DR READERS START HERE (yes, I know it's still long, bear with me; this is the most important part of our most important call to action yet)
Before any of this craziness was going on, I managed to get e-mail addresses for NCsoft management. Not e-mail addresses you'll find on any public publications. I have stressed that our goal is not to cause NCsoft harm, neither financially nor reputation-wise. At this point, I am convinced that our message just isn't getting through. I still think that they do not understand why this game is so important to us. And it might be my fault; if they have not been seeing the news or our efforts with the rallies or the outreach, what does the word of one random stranger on the Internet really mean?
So for two weeks, I have been desperately resisting doing this because I don't want it to be mistaken as a sign of harassment, but we have to get our message through. I am now asking you all to contact the following people at the following addresses. Let them know what this game means to you. Tell them your stories. Send them your pictures. Stress how much our development staff has meant to us over the years, why they are unique in the industry, the story of how fun it was on Game Night before the Player Summit, how nice the artist was who signed your Blue King #1.
[address removed]: Mr. Taek-Jin Kim, CEO (male)
[address removed]: Dr. Song-Yee Yoon, Chief Strategist (female)
[address removed]: Mr. Dong-Il Kim, CFO (male)
Please note that all three are fluent English speakers; there is no need to translate your e-mail to Korean.
I hope that the e-mails will stress positives, reasons why we believe releasing City of Heroes to be acquired by a third party is a good business move that benefits everyone. However, I know that there are still a lot of hurt feelings in the community, and I suspect that there will be some negative e-mails sent no matter how much I ask them not to be. I will ask that you at least do this for me: Tell them why you are hurt and angry over a game being canceled. Express to them what you're feeling, how in the past five years this makes five games now (Dungeon Runners, Auto Assault, Exteel, and Tabula Rasa as well as City of Heroes) that NCsoft has shut down; why that is having a very negative impact on their reputation; why you have started "Boycott NCsoft" movements and why you are telling friends in the gaming community--their customer base--to avoid titles such as Guild Wars 2 and Blade and Soul, titles they need to thrive. If you are angry over having sunk costs in City of Heroes that cannot be recovered (extended subscriptions, Paragon Points, microtransactions for which you feel you are not receiving the full value of), be sure to point out how these issues go away if the game continues.
Send them e-mails. Tell your friends, supergroups, coalitions, and teams. Post on Facebook. Tweet it. Yell it out your front door if you have to, but get the word out.
I know some of you might disagree with this strategy and opt not to take part, and I understand; it's your choice. Please know that this has been a well-thought-out decision that I've struggled with and I was really hoping that there would be some hint that things would be resolved by now. I wish we had the luxury of continuing our current plan of urging one-on-one communication or waiting until we receive some sign that things are going our way, but we've gotten to the point that now, every day we wait is one more day that our development team is permanently at risk of dissolving through attrition, one more day that we lose players who become demotivated, one more day until November 30 when this all becomes a moot point.
I'll continue posting news and updates on the Titan Network forums.