Press Release: Disney Rescue

26 November 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CITY OF HEROES PLAYERS LOOK TO DISNEY FOR RESCUE

A group of gamers battling to save their online world from destruction have reached out to Disney® for help.

Four members of the Save City of Heroes® campaign, with the support of other key individuals have contacted Disney Interactive®, asking for their help in collaborating with NCsoft® to save their beloved game from oblivion.

NCsoft, who currently own the franchise, announced on August 30 they were pulling the plug on the long-running MMO, with the game scheduled to be closed on November 30. In the process of shutting down the game, NCsoft laid off the 80-strong staff at Paragon Studios, based in Mountain View, California.

The announcement caught nearly everyone by surprise, as the game had still been operating successfully and with ongoing development, including an expansion in open beta stages. It was also one of the quietest MMO shutdown announcements, as it was not sent to investors, press, company's news section or even the game's own support staff.

Almost immediately, a massive online campaign was launched that saw the residents of Paragon City, the Rogue Isles and Praetoria send letters, masks and capes to NCsoft in a bid to get them to work with the players to find a way to keep the online game running. An online petition calling on NCsoft to keep City of Heroes running has attracted over 21,000 signatures.

The closure of the #1 superhero online game of all time, which generated over $180 million in revenue, was home to over 100,000 players and 43 million avatars, was still in full development at the time that NCsoft announced they were ‘pulling the plug’. It still had one of the top customer retention rates in the industry – no small feat for a game eight years old with seemingly no advertising budget.

A unity rally held in September saw thousands of players log into show their support for the game, and the developers. A fundraising effort to take all 80 staff of Paragon Studios out for dinner hit its target in just three hours.

But the fans’ pleas have been met with a blunt ‘no comment’ from NCsoft, who refused to discuss the reason behind the game’s closure, or the attempts they claim to have made to keep it open.

NCsoft’s wall of silence around the closure has resulted in Starburst Magazine®, the UK’s longest running science-fiction and gaming magazine calling on its readers to boycott the game publisher “until such time that they start to treat their customers with decency, honesty, and most of all – respect.”

Author Mercedes Lackey, who helped to draft the pitch to Disney, said: “We believe that Disney and City of Heroes are a perfect match; Disney now owns Marvel and two impending Marvel MMOs which are slated to be mirror opposites of the cooperative, community gameplay fostered by City of Heroes.

“By reviving City of Heroes, Disney will be able to satisfy the gaming desires of every player of MMORPGs.

“In addition, Disney has the reach to effortlessly give City of Heroes the exposure it never had under NCSoft’s regime of benign neglect--and City of Heroes will provide Disney with some extremely unique cross-marketing opportunities.

“Disney has always understood and fostered community and loyalty--something NCSoft never did.

“We believe that acquiring City of Heroes will provide Disney Interactive with the logical extension of their games for kids and teens, offering a game that literally the whole family can play.”

One of the players, Tihomir Kadic, was also a part of the group who put the pitch together added: “It’s easy to throw words like ‘unique’ and ‘irreplaceable’ around, especially now that online gaming is entering an explosion, but as any City of Heroes player will openly say, calling it that would be, if anything, an understatement.

“Not only because of the myriad ways a player could be, in every sense of the word, an individual, not for the expansive options for play, not for the immensely open and welcoming community, or maybe not even the confluence of these and countless other things.

“Perhaps the most irreplaceable thing about it was - is - how many rules of MMOs it broke. How many expectations it turned on its head.

“In a genre where it’s common to keep the players chasing the carrot by constantly moving the stick away, it’s almost inconceivable for a MMO to try - and succeed - to keep its players simply by letting them have fun, on their time and most importantly, on their terms.

“To borrow an adage, it is a game where shared joy is increased - and there is a lot of it to go around.”

Another player, and an Internet Marketing Specialist, Ammon Johns, who has also been involved in the project said: “The business case for acquiring City of Heroes is easy to make.

“It is the most successful and profitable superhero themed MMO ever. More than that, it still has untapped potential - it is a game that was woefully short of any commitment to marketing, and in my professional opinion, was terribly mismanaged by NCsoft.

“Investors have been critical of NCsoft’s poor handling of international business, and City of Heroes is almost a perfect example of the justification of such.

“By contrast, Disney is a paragon of a company that is truly in-touch with the global market, and indeed the family market.

“One knows that Disney could make a huge success of the game, and make it a key component in their reach across the modern media of family entertainment.

“I’ve dealt with a huge range of Internet based businesses over the many years of my career, and I’ve rarely seen a better all-round opportunity than City of Heroes presents.

“If I only had a few spare millions I’d have been sorely tempted not to share it with Disney at all, and go for it myself.”

Members of the Save City of Heroes campaign are expected to support the plea with a letter writing campaign, due to begin any day now.

For more information, or images, please contact (laurenoneill@journalist.com).


Editors notes:

"City of Heroes" was the first MMORPG based not only on superheroes, but heavily on comic books, pre- dating Sony Online "DC Universe Online" by nearly 7 years. The free downloadable updates for the game were known as "Issues," with actual titles that added new content to the popular MMO. The upcoming issue 24, was titled “Resurgence.”

Paid expansions included "City of Villains" in 2005 and "City of Heroes: Going Rogue" in 2010. The lore and backstory of the game was so popular that there were many tie-in projects in other media, including novels, a collectible card game and -- not surprisingly -- a comic book series from publishers Blue King and Top Cow.

"City of Heroes" had over 120,000 subscribers in the US and Europe as of September 2008 and added a free-to- play subscription model in October of 2011.

It has six entries in the Guinness Book of Records – First superhero based MMO, first ‘evil’ MMO expansion, first MMO to use adaptive difficulty and the first MMO to use a mentoring system. In the 2012 Gamer’s Edition, it was in the top ten list of MMOs based on subscribed users (and was the only non-fantasy style game on the list) and holds the record for the most free content updates ever.

Of all of the MMOs that have been closed down, NCsoft are now responsible for cancelling a third of them – Auto Assault, Exteel, Dungeon Runners, Linage 1 (US/EU), Tabula Rasa and now City of Heroes. To date, it has actively opposed any third party attempts to purchase the intellectual property rights of any of its closed-down games.

Since the announcement that their game was to close, City of Heroes players raised over $8,000 for the Children's Miracle Network Hospital as part of the Extra Life charity event in October. The fourth annual Real World Hero charity drive is currently underway and players have already raised over $3,000 for charities including Operation Gratitude and Heifer International. In its four-year history, Real World Hero has raised $29,276.47

For more information on the Save City of Heroes Campaign, visit http://www.savecoh.com/.

For further reading, a spread sheet of all media coverage of the Save City of Heroes campaign can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/8hhn5xv

Starburst Magazine’s call to Boycott NCsoft can be found at: http://www.starburstmagazine.com/editorial/3869-boycott-ncsoft

Download the Press Release at Google Docs.

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12 Responses so far.

  1. I definite salute your efforts, but on the flipside I am working with players from Disney's Pirates Online to try and revive our game and keep it going as well.

    The game has been running for 5 years and based on a $5 billion dollar film franchise, yet suffers from lack of support.

    You can find our efforts here: www.revivepotco.org.

  2. John, perhaps I could show you an update in your gaming. Come on over for some tic tac toe some evening?

  3. Thank you, MMOraid.com for running this article. City of Heroes was sunset on 11/30/12 at midnight PST. Consequently, we devoted fans and players are doing our best to help bring back City of Heroes as swiftly as Coke Classic was brought back in 1985 in response to New Coke. Thank you also to all joining the Save City of Heroes campaign to bring back this enduring yet fully up to date classic.

    To Mr. John Young, Thank you for the link to your communities efforts to keep POTCO afloat! That made for insightful reading. I'd be inclined to sign your petition but since I'm not a POTCO player, I'm unable to show you my support. You might consider other electronic petitions we fellow gamers can support. For us, the pitch has been made and even a postcard to Disney suggesting they look into acquiring the rights to City of Heroes would mean a lot. Thanks and Happy Gaming!

  4. There's no other game out there like City of Heroes...

    It seems logical that any company would profit greatly off of CoH for: it's originality and content, Wonderful archetypes and power sets, an incredibly (proven) battle-hardened and loyal community that would support the game by any means necessary [if returning to existence], and a vast amount of future subscribers based on the level of publicity the game received after NCSoft unjustly put an end to Paragon City and the Rogue Isles.

    SO MANY PEOPLE out there are dreaming of City of Heroes to return, and the game never even got a chance to reach it's full potential...

    Bottom line: The most original and exciting MMO out there for the players, and a higher profit in revenue and net sales for the first company who happens to be the first to open their eyes! Win - Win situation..

    Let's get the ball rolling!

  5. me and my friends played city of heroes all the time and we havent played with eachother since city of heroes shut down and we love this game and wish it would return i salute this effort and want to join the effort

    "RETURN CITY OF HEROES TO THE HEROES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

  6. BRADFORD says:

    Disney is simply doing BULL SHIT! Disney Interactive have no plans to buy COH and 2nd NCOSFT did not go to Disney to sell COH. NCSOFT is not a seller. NCOSFT is a DESTORYER
    3rdTitan Network made this deal. its like double leasing when the land lord says not allowed. This is fake news

  7. Gamez1985 says:

    Although they have and may go on making good games in the future, I will no longer support anything made by NCSoft ever again, no matter how much I'll want something. UNLESS THEY BRING BACK CoH OR LET SOMEONE ELSE HAVE THE RIGHTS TO DO SO!!

    They'll gladly take our money, they just wont turn around and let us have the game we've been paying for. I can think of a million and one solutions that could give EVERYONE what they want, including (undeserving) NCSoft even MORE money, for a game they aren't using. BUT NO. NCSoft gives 0 sh!t = so I give NCSoft 0 MONEY!

    FROM NOW ON. GIMME MY CoH BACK!!!

  8. Gamez1985 says:

    ooo OOOO Lets all MASS BOYCOTT NCSoft, and when they are -LITERALLY- terrified that their fat families and fat checks aren't being supplied by guild Wars 2 (and any other NOT CoH-good game) right when 'the man' is walking up to throw their useless, undeserving, indian-giving, rumps out on the street; we swoop in and save them IF AND ONLY IF their cardboard "can you spare change im starving" signs have "WILL GIVE YOU BACK CITY OF HEROES FOR MONEY!"

    I was disabled almost the entirety of CoH's existence. When CoH closed down, I knew more of Paragon City than I did of the one outside my house. My 'home' (being City of Heroes) was taken away from me. Now all I have is my health..... Oh wait....
    D<

  9. My suspicions are that Marvel might be behind all this after reading about the original lawsuit they filed. I could be wrong but a law suit may be the reason NCSoft is not ( cannot) comment.
    Moreover, is this is true NCSoft may have had to destroy COH. :(

    I hope I am wrong.

  10. i played cityofheroes for 7 years and i still would love to play it. I play world of warcraft and rf online and nun of them match CoH bring it back millions of people are missing it and the chars

  11. Unknown says:

    I still miss COH and so wish they would bring it back. I haven't found another game to play since and I played for 7 years also. :(

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