One thing I’ve seen repeated a few times in the wake of yesterday’s announcement is a rumour that City of Heroes / Villains is shutting down because:
- Its game engine is licensed to Cryptic Studios for a period of time; and
- Now that licence period is up; and
- Cryptic’s new owners Perfect World Entertainment (or even Cryptic itself) are asking for too much money; so
- NCsoft is shutting down CoH/V.
Think about it for a second – it doesn’t really stack up.
Point 1 is definitely true – that’s why Cryptic’s name still appears on the bottom of the page, a legacy from the Cryptic / NCsoft deal in buying CoH/V. Point 2 is completely unconfirmed. Point 3 sounds like a plausible reason if the rumour was true (which is the secret of a good rumour – lots of plausible reverse inferencing). Point 4 is… well, see yesterday.
There’s a chance it is true, but I don’t think so. If it was true, NCsoft would have just led with it in their PR release. It gets NCsoft off the hook and makes Cryptic / PWE look like the bad guys – no talk about “not fitting in with the future direction of NCsoft”, just “PWE / Cryptic did it – blame them”. Plus it would have been less of a surprise for Paragon Studios (or at least their management layer) since they would have known this is coming.
And then there’s Paragon Studios / NCsoft spending the required investment turning a game free to play (F2P) throughout 2011 knowing that the engine licence had to be renegotiated mid-2012. That just seems exceptionally poor planning for the F2P conversion to have happened if Cryptic had any kind of power to just turn off the lights. After all, if Freedom had been successful, PWE / Cryptic could have really gone on a gouging spree and / or have an even bigger reason to shut CoH/V down.
I’m aware that for a lot of CoH/V players “Blame Jack Emmert / Cryptic Studios” is the default position, but I don’t see this rumour really being backed by the truth. CoH/V is shutting down due to the decisions of its publisher, nothing more, nothing less.