In 2004, Cryptic Studios introduced "City of Heroes," the first Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game based on superheroes. The game has had several expansions, surviving a buyout from NCsoft and the change from Cryptic Studios to Paragon Studios. However, after eight years of support, Paragon Studios announced that it -- and by extension, "City of Heroes" -- will be closing its doors by the end of the year due to a decision by parent company NCsoft.
"In a realignment of company focus and publishing support, NCsoft has made the decision to close Paragon Studios," Paragon Community Manager Andy Belford said in a statement. "Effective immediately, all development on City of Heroes will cease and we will begin preparations to sunset the world's first, and best, Super Hero MMORPG before the end of the year. As part of this, all recurring subscription billing and Paragon Market purchasing will be discontinued effective immediately. We will have more information regarding a detailed timeline for the cessation of services and what you can expect in game in the coming weeks."
"City of Heroes" was the first MMORPG based not only on superheroes, but heavily on comics books, predating Sony Online Entertainment's "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. 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 publisher Blue King. "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 June 2011.
In the early stages of "City of Heroes" in 2004, Marvel Comics filed a lawsuit against Cryptic Studios, alleging the game allowed and actively promoted the creation of characters who infringe Marvel copyright. The suit was eventually settled under undisclosed terms and in 2006, Marvel selected Cryptic Studios to develop the eventually cancelled "Marvel Universe Online" MMO for Windows Vista and Xbox Live.
"City of Heroes" will close before the end of 2012.