A little while ago I wrote about what happened to City of Heroes 2.0 and how any new projects raised by Paragon Studios failed to get the interest of NCsoft needed for them to continue. I didn’t continue anything else in this area because pretty quickly a request went out to the source to please stop talking because it could damage negotiations and the future of CoH/V.
Given that it seems negotiations are off the table and NCsoft continues to push CoH/V towards the edge of a cliff, that doesn’t seem that is a factor any more. Going through other bits of info online, the first article stirred up a confirmation from another source.
Graham West was a programmer at Paragon Studios who was let go in
last year’s 2010’s layoffs at Paragon Studios. Following an article repost elsewhere he made the following comments (which I’ve mostly cut’n’pasted here):
“CoH 2 as an extension of the CoH universe didn’t really last that long. I was not working on it, so I had limited insight. The high concept was Heroes vs Villains vs Battalion so there could be shifting alliances. Matt really wanted to have ways for the two games to influence each other so it wouldn’t canibalise CoH 1 subscriptions and I believe he had a number of ideas how to do that.
The game as CoH 2 fizzled out in early 2009 if I remember rightly. Then it turned into, as someone mentioned [in the original link], a more contemporary, more gritty, less comic-book-y game set in a world which resembled Earth much more closely. You would be able to travel to cities which riffed very much on real cities – think GTA 4 and New York/Liberty City. The first prototype used a chunk of London. The game was targeted for 2014. Several things happened in a parallel; a good chunk of work was done on a fantastic graphics engine, a number of game systems were prototyped as board games (I only got to play one but it was a pretty fun and cheap way to explore concept), art prototypes and backstory were developed.
The real kicker in all of this is Guild Wars 2. The game was pushed back several times and ArenaNet had a large number of people working on it. That meant it was expensive. The later the game got, the more it impinged on Paragon’s game, and Carbine’s game which was before it in the queue, so to speak. Eventually, in mid-2010, Paragon’s game was 5 years out and it didn’t really make sense to keep spending a bunch of money on it. Better to wait a couple of years and take advantage of better knowledge of both technology and business models.“
Reading between the lines above, part of the reason for the delay appears to be to wait for Guild Wars 2 to launch so that more resources could be allocated to a Paragon Studios project. Hindsight is 20/20 and all, but that turned out to be a bad decision for the studio – it left them with all eggs in one spandex-lined basket.
Since Guild Wars 2 didn’t launch until August 2012, it also delayed the large-scale start of any new Paragon Studios project (although there have been rumours of another title started a few months before NCsoft decided to close CoH/V). And if Paragon Studios’ next project delayed serious development moves until the launch of Carbine’s Wildstar… well, that’s a long wait between titles.
During this delay on seriously starting another title, the continued development on CoH/V failed to generate additional revenue growth for NCsoft.
I can’t help but see the parallel in this approach and what happened in the wake of Tabula Rasa’s development and launch. With such a large and important title like Tabula Rasa under development, other titles were left scrounging for resources and eventually were shut down. Of course, Guild Wars 2 appears to have been a success where Tabula Rasa wasn’t, so it appears to focusing of resources on ArenaNet’s title worked out well for NCsoft to date, but was nothing but downside for Paragon Studios / CoH/V.
EDIT 8 October 2012: Realised that Paragon Studios got attention for laying people off in 2010, not 2011, and adjusted that point.