I just saw the news via PC Gamer that City of Heroes is going free-to-play. I can’t say I’m surprised. I’m sure that NCSoft and Paragon Studios have been looking for ways to renew interest in the game and saw Champions Online’s renewed success. I’m just glad that NCSoft didn’t shutdown the game as they’ve never been shy about that before, although admittedly for much younger games.
Free or not, I’m not planning on going to go back to the game. Just like with Age of Conan, the subscription isn’t what keeps me from playing. It’s time.
Unlike Conan though, I do like the Paragon City setting and lore. I played back when a comic came in the mail every month and I enjoyed the two books that were released. But the lore doesn’t offset the aging character models and combat system. I prefer the combat pacing and mechanics better in Champions Online, as well as the open power system and newer graphics. The only reasons I’ve gone back to CoH in recent months have been for nostalgia during free reactivation weekends.
The F2P plan itself is a pretty standard hybrid subscription model with an in-game store, VIP members getting point stipends monthly, and separate tiers for free players, those who’ve spent some money in the store and subscribers. The most interesting feature is that they are creating a VIP only server and giving VIPs one free transfer a month.
Hopefully the new model works just as well for Paragon Studios and NCSoft as it has for Cryptic and Turbine.