City of Heroes Heroically Becomes Free-to-Play

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Posted by Alex (2368 posts) -

With free-to-play models all the rage for aging and/or struggling PC MMOs, it's with little surprise we learn today that NCSoft and Paragon Studios have opted to go that route for one of the more popular MMOs of the last several years, City of Heroes. Though the game has maintained subscribers in the low hundreds of thousands over the last few years (around 125,000 as recently as earlier this year), the title, which originally launched all the way back in April of 2004, was probably due for a bit of a shake-up, and this new F2P model looks designed to do precisely that.

The citizens approve!

With the new model, any player can create a hero or villain and play all the way up to level 50 for free. That said, there are also Premium and VIP subscriptions that offer a bit more in the way of content for more dedicated players. Anyone who has previously paid for a City of Heroes account is automatically labeled a Premium member, and by jumping back in with the new game client, you'll retain all of the veteran rewards, super boosters, and other various things you've acquired over the course of your play time. New players can also become Premium members by purchasing any amount of Paragon Points, AKA the in-game microtransaction currency.

VIP players will still pay a monthly subscription fee, but will get free access to the Going Rogue expansion content, specific VIP servers, and also a monthly allocation of free Paragon Points to spend on whatever superheroic bric-a-brac their heart demands.

You can find a full breakdown of the different subscription models at the official City of Heroes website, if you're thinking about jumping back into the battle of good spandex versus bad spandex. Maybe now might be a good time to bust out my old villain, Captain MonkeyPants. He was quite the scourge, that one.

#1 Posted by Alex (2368 posts) -

With free-to-play models all the rage for aging and/or struggling PC MMOs, it's with little surprise we learn today that NCSoft and Paragon Studios have opted to go that route for one of the more popular MMOs of the last several years, City of Heroes. Though the game has maintained subscribers in the low hundreds of thousands over the last few years (around 125,000 as recently as earlier this year), the title, which originally launched all the way back in April of 2004, was probably due for a bit of a shake-up, and this new F2P model looks designed to do precisely that.

The citizens approve!

With the new model, any player can create a hero or villain and play all the way up to level 50 for free. That said, there are also Premium and VIP subscriptions that offer a bit more in the way of content for more dedicated players. Anyone who has previously paid for a City of Heroes account is automatically labeled a Premium member, and by jumping back in with the new game client, you'll retain all of the veteran rewards, super boosters, and other various things you've acquired over the course of your play time. New players can also become Premium members by purchasing any amount of Paragon Points, AKA the in-game microtransaction currency.

VIP players will still pay a monthly subscription fee, but will get free access to the Going Rogue expansion content, specific VIP servers, and also a monthly allocation of free Paragon Points to spend on whatever superheroic bric-a-brac their heart demands.

You can find a full breakdown of the different subscription models at the official City of Heroes website, if you're thinking about jumping back into the battle of good spandex versus bad spandex. Maybe now might be a good time to bust out my old villain, Captain MonkeyPants. He was quite the scourge, that one.

#2 Edited by jozzy (2042 posts) -

This is a great game, played it for at least a year back in the day. Might go back to it now.

#3 Posted by Lokar36 (37 posts) -

gi joe!

#4 Posted by LifeByDegrees (245 posts) -

Sounds like fun!

#5 Edited by SethPhotopoulos (5381 posts) -

Cool. I want to try it. Hopefully there is a mac version.

#6 Posted by CaLe (4039 posts) -

City of Heroes

Date Purchased June 25 2004 11:39

Serial Code EEGG-WDLP-YU29-XRPE-4ZH6

Still have that original e-mail. First MMO I ever played.. I might go back just to run around and get a nostalgia kick.

#7 Posted by DeeGee (2144 posts) -

... didn't this already go free-to-play?

Or is there another superhero MMO I'm thinking of?

#8 Posted by Jeffsekai (7049 posts) -

Finally I can try this game.

#9 Posted by Death_Burnout (3800 posts) -

@DeeGee: Champions Online

#10 Posted by SpartanAmbrose (834 posts) -

Take me down to the Paragon City where the classes are free and the graphics are still passably pretty. OH WON'T YOU PLEASE TAKE ME HOOOOME...YEAH YEAH...

I love you, Alex.

#11 Posted by Binarynova (150 posts) -

Pretty fun. Though I spent a lot of time last night fixing a "locked at 6 FPS problem." The only solution was rolling back the drivers for my ATI Radeon 5830. Started at Catalyst 11.8 and didn't start working right until I got down to 11.4.

But whatever, it's working now and it'll be a nice free diversion until I can get my hands on the next big game. :)

#12 Posted by onimonkii (2452 posts) -

@DeeGee said:

... didn't this already go free-to-play?

Or is there another superhero MMO I'm thinking of?

all the superhero mmos are free to play now.

#13 Posted by iAmJohn (6134 posts) -

I thought this happened months ago. The emails I still occasionally get from NCSoft from when I played this for three weeks back in 2005 seemed to indicate that.

Also, FYI Alex: Cryptic hasn't been involved with City of Heroes ever since they started working on Champions Online (which was before Atari bought them). City of Heroes is a completely NCSoft joint now.

#14 Posted by RChan (12 posts) -

@DeeGee: That was Champions Online. The not so successful pseudo-follow up made by Cryptic after they split from NC Soft.

This is my personal favorite MMO. The levels of customization are top notch. Sadly, the gameplay doesn't hold up very well though. Would love to see a COH2 with a overhaul to the gameplay while retaining the level of customization. Was hoping to get that out of DC Universe Online. Damn shame that didn't pan out quite so well.

#15 Posted by ChuckDeNomolos (73 posts) -

@DeeGee: Champions did, CoH announced this in June, and DCUO just announced it.

#16 Posted by darkjester74 (1592 posts) -

CoH was the one MMO where I took a toon to level cap. Ahh, the memories.

#17 Posted by Trace (3576 posts) -

@DeeGee said:

... didn't this already go free-to-play?

Or is there another superhero MMO I'm thinking of?

You might be thinking of Champions Online. DC Universe Online's going free-to-play, as well.

As someone who played the heck out of City of Heroes for about four years, I fully recommend trying it out if it piques anyone's interest. I had quite a fun time building my various characters up (still have fond memories of outrageously broken antics with Captain Concussion and Operative Littleton), and I think it's a grossly underrated MMO in general.

Moderator
#18 Posted by Vexxan (4623 posts) -

Another one joins the ranks...

#19 Posted by Aviar (446 posts) -

I may reinstall this and give it another look. Played it for a while after release and enjoyed it. Too many of these games are going F2P, like DCUO, and I wish I had more time to game!

#20 Posted by Grimmy616 (410 posts) -

@SethPhotopoulos: There totally is a Mac version.

Awesome job on the Article, Alex ;D

Been playing this game off and on again for almost seven years now. To go free to play just makes sense for them. They built up this year long reputation and the sheer number of players they had over the years will add to the appeal of them giving the game another try and seeing how much it has changed... for the better :P

#21 Posted by Slate (20 posts) -

@SethPhotopoulos: the game is both pc and mac suported.

#22 Posted by Winsord (1285 posts) -

I'd rather play Champions or even DCUO when it goes free October 19th, if I'm honest.

Online
#23 Posted by BalrogsBain (90 posts) -

going free to play is a great idea for all these MMOs it has me interested in playing them and at least giving them a chance

#24 Posted by Drazat (172 posts) -

My first MMO happy care free days.I re downloaded it and they have made the game look a LOT better.

#25 Posted by Marshy57 (4 posts) -

Free to play is good to play!

#26 Posted by SMTDante89 (2613 posts) -

@SpartanAmbrose said:

Take me down to the Paragon City where the classes are free and the graphics are still passably pretty. OH WON'T YOU PLEASE TAKE ME HOOOOME...YEAH YEAH...

I love you, Alex.

Yeah, exactly.

#27 Posted by Animasta (14718 posts) -

@SMTDante89 said:

@SpartanAmbrose said:

Take me down to the Paragon City where the classes are free and the graphics are still passably pretty. OH WON'T YOU PLEASE TAKE ME HOOOOME...YEAH YEAH...

I love you, Alex.

Yeah, exactly.

x3

#28 Edited by l3illyl3ob (285 posts) -

City of Heroes has the most palatable gameplay to me of any MMO I've played (I've played all the major ones). It's a shame about its severe lack of interesting content and super small player base. I'm amazed it remained a monthly subscription game for all these years, especially considering how fast the semi-sequel, Champions Online, went Free to Play.

#29 Posted by Grimmy616 (410 posts) -

@l3illyl3ob: I think because it has such a long standing user base it was able to commit to the subscription part for this long. And I mean this has been in development for a year now at Paragon Studios. This isn't some last minute thought process of "Oh crap everyone is going F2P I guess we should as well". And now with Freedom they have streamlined so much of the gameplay and ingame content. Interesting story arcs, cool new powers. There's still some stuff that they could improve but as a whole package its great.

#30 Posted by mewarmo990 (837 posts) -

I loved CoH to death when I was still playing it, but I have to say I saw this coming. The community was small but tight, making it a lot of fun to play in small groups.
 
Guess now's a great time to jump back in now that I don't need a subscription.

#31 Posted by JCTango (1366 posts) -

Played this a lot a few years back - it's fun until you realize it's all just a big grindfest, just like any MMO. Being able to make your own superhero and write up stories for them on your player card is pretty fun though, but you don't really need an mmo for that.

#32 Posted by D_Man_Taylor (109 posts) -

Anybody else get an "account creation error" when trying to sign up for an account? Might just be the servers getting hit too.

#33 Posted by Lactose_the_Intolerant (4 posts) -

Just what I've been waiting for. Aww yeah

#34 Posted by CptPanda29 (191 posts) -

Been playing this for four years now, can't wait for some new people to play!

@Cap Fallout on Defiant (UK) server...

#35 Posted by Xaviersx (158 posts) -

My roadblock, DSL. Actually, a shorted phone line that hobbled my DSL. But even before that crisis, I wasn't too involved with Champions Online Free when I joined that . . . I really wanted CoH when it first came out. Now, I'm just an antisocial bastrd . . . Oh well, hope everybody else enjoys it. I don't see how they stay afloat in a worldwide recession . . .

#36 Posted by stinky (1551 posts) -

alex,

has captain america been torn apart in this update? a mere court jester with a broken heart?

anyway I must be losing my mind, I've seen it MMOs becoming free a million times.

#37 Posted by project343 (2836 posts) -

I was so happy to hear this. Brought me back and I'm loving it. Everyone who doesn't despise MMORPGs or superheroes should give it a shot.

#38 Posted by Monk (181 posts) -

Best byline Alex, bravo.

#39 Posted by Kinapuff (244 posts) -

I could not care less about said game, I just clicked because of the catchy tagline.

#40 Posted by ChernobylCow (238 posts) -

I think I might download it just to play with the character creator.

#41 Edited by spiceninja (3065 posts) -

I got into the Old Republic beta so, no MMOs for me for a while. At least until the beta is over. Still, I really enjoyed the time I spent with City of Villains. Making a Power Ranger character was a lot of fun.

#42 Posted by super2j (1749 posts) -

i wonder if this is essentially the same experience as i had with champions online f2p and how i will feel about dcu f2p.

I tried champions and fell off the band wagon pretty fast, is there even a point in trying this out?

#43 Posted by Jethuty (1023 posts) -

Take me down to the Paragon City where the classes are free and the graphics are still passably pretty SHITTY. OH WON'T YOU PLEASE TAKE ME HOOOOME...YEAH YEAH...

yes....i went there

#44 Posted by Simulacrum (462 posts) -

I remember playing the trial of this years ago and enjoying it. Definitely looking forward to playing this again.

#45 Posted by tourgen (4542 posts) -

pretty great game. I'll go back and check it out again, see what has changed. The last time I played I had 2 characters at the cash cap from playing the market.

#46 Posted by Little_Socrates (5694 posts) -

@SpartanAmbrose said:

Take me down to the Paragon City where the classes are free and the graphics are still passably pretty. OH WON'T YOU PLEASE TAKE ME HOOOOME...YEAH YEAH...

I love you, Alex.

DIED.

#47 Posted by CornBREDX (5833 posts) -

Damn you, Alex. I'm gonna have that song stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

Anyway, this is a good MMO.

I quit a few years ago just because its always the same and very little new comes to it but I may check it out again at some point- I still need to check out that last expansion.

I'm actually kind of surprised they haven't done this already, but like Alex said it is probably because the game does alright (has what used to be considered good MMO sub numbers). This is still better then Champions, so it has that going for it anyway.

#48 Posted by CitizenJP (1037 posts) -

I've been playing this game since 2004 and it's still hands down my favorite MMORPG. Constant updates, awesome powers, cool costumes. What more could you want? Also, the revitalized community is another plus! Let's play everyone! :D

#49 Posted by Brackynews (4094 posts) -

Damn, now I just want to play Burnout Paradise. But yeah I should pop back in and see if my characters survived whatever the last comipocalypse was.

@JCTango said:

Being able to make your own superhero and write up stories for them on your player card is pretty fun though, but you don't really need an mmo for that.

WTF? Take your card-tapping-character-sheet-larping bullshit and get off my electronic gaming website!!!!! roflxorz!!!1!

Sorry, had a spaz there, too much sugar in the churros... ;D Yeah I probably have the standalone CoH character creator in a folder somewhere. Even if a MMO disappears into the ether, they can be forever loved by keeping the most essential feature alive.

#50 Posted by MeatSim (10927 posts) -

I would have thought this game was already Free-to-Play.

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