The End: NCSoft finally issues a statement

105 posts / 0 new
Last post
Samuel Tow
Samuel Tow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 9 months ago
Joined: Nov 18 2011 - 5:45am

Orion Pax wrote:
Hanna's suffering a keyboard malfunction currently - many letters don't work right, or sporadically work Sad Trust me, it's not intentional on her part Wink

Oh. I apologise for complaining then. However, I really am serious when I say it's incredibly difficult, bordering on outright impossible, for me to read it. I don't know if it's because I'm a non-native speaker or because I read words by "appearance," but it's giving me serious trouble. I'll do what I can.

marqaha wrote:
Nguyễn Văn Lém, the victim in the photo, wasn't strictly a civilian, per se. What the picture depicts, and what it has come to represent in the western world, are two different things. Nguyễn Văn Lém was a member of the Vietcong, and depending on who you believe either spent the morning murdering unarmed civilians while dressed as one, or had murdered General Loan's (the man with the gun) family. In either case Nguyễn Văn Lém was not an innocent cum martyr.

It's possible I watched a one-sided documentary, then, because this movie was shown to me as a sign of war crimes and wanton violence. In either case, I'm not trying to villify the shooter or sancrify the victim, just wanted to say that it's a summary execution from the Korean war, which apparently is actually from the Vietnam war. Shows how much I know.

That's kind of why I have no problem with the pic itself, though - it shows the horrors of war. And I can sympathise with the intent behind it, I feel the same way. City of Heroes was killed unglamorously and unexpectedly. So long as we don't turn on each other over it, I'm fine with it either way.

*edit*
Is there a multi-quote option on the forums that I'm just not seeing, by the way?

Of all the things I've lost,
I think I miss my mind the most.

 

Orion Pax
Orion Pax's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 6 days ago
Joined: Nov 7 2011 - 9:04pm

Nope, no multi-quote option Wink

Samuel Tow
Samuel Tow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 9 months ago
Joined: Nov 18 2011 - 5:45am

You know, I just had this idea for a feature request...

Of all the things I've lost,
I think I miss my mind the most.

 

Hanna
Hanna's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 10 months ago
Joined: Jul 5 2012 - 9:34pm
Orion Pax
Orion Pax's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 6 days ago
Joined: Nov 7 2011 - 9:04pm

Might I request the put this thread back on it's original discussions rails about NC Soft's closing of City of Heroes Wink  I know I helped de-rail it as well, but has anyone else figured out what they're doing with characters, or any other rumors about what might happen next Good

Samuel Tow
Samuel Tow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 9 months ago
Joined: Nov 18 2011 - 5:45am

Far as I know, nuke it from orbit and sift through the ashes. There's a reason we're all pissed off at NCsoft.

Of all the things I've lost,
I think I miss my mind the most.

 

Hanna
Hanna's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 10 months ago
Joined: Jul 5 2012 - 9:34pm

Tere's actuall aoter discussio we sould probabl be avig, tat I've talked wit oters about, but I'm ufortuatel ot te oe to be able to start it or egage i it because of m poor spellig. I mea, m stupid broke keboard. 

ou migt fid tis fu Sam, but I'm ol missig tree kes, "n", "h", ad "y".

Watchdog
Watchdog's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 18 hours ago
Joined: Jul 6 2012 - 1:28pm

Are those keys actually broken?  I know those keys line up on the keyboard and are probably malfunctioning in a way that can't be fixed, but if it's just a matter of the keys (the plastic parts) being broken, then you can pry off other keys and put them where the broken keys were.

So if the N key is busted -- the key itself and not the contact point underneath -- yank a key you don't use (Home, End, Insert and some Function keys barely get used these days) and snap them in.  For example, I had an E key bust on an old laptop that I rarely use, so instead of blowing money on a new keyboard, I pried off the End key and snapped it where the E key used to be.  And this is even easier on conventional desktop keyboards.

Again, I know they're probably busted for real, but if not this would work.

Then there's programs like SharpKeys, that will allow you to map keys to any other key.  I haven't used it in ages, but basically in Windows you can edit the registry to switch key functions around, and SharpKeys (and I'm sure other utilities out there) gives you a simple way to do that.  So you'd map your busted keys to ones you don't use on the keyboard.

This would be disorienting as hell, but it would be a fix until you get the issue resolved.  This is also useful for disabling keys that are troublesome for some people (CapsLock, Windows Keys, etc.).

And that is why NCSoft is closing City of Heroes.  (Sorry, Pax.)  Wink

Razorstrike
Offline
Last seen: 8 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Jul 5 2012 - 11:08pm
marqaha
marqaha's picture
Offline
Last seen: 7 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Nov 7 2011 - 9:51pm
Ember Rose
Ember Rose's picture
Offline
Last seen: 11 months 1 day ago
Joined: Jan 13 2012 - 9:11pm

That article made me really sad.

Just one more block and I swear I'll stop.

It's never too early for a glass of wine and some zombie shooting.

robin
robin's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 12 months ago
Joined: Sep 1 2012 - 1:15am

Going through, taking pictures of my favorites, and running snetinel plus is making me very sad.

Samuel Tow
Samuel Tow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 9 months ago
Joined: Nov 18 2011 - 5:45am

I really should do that, myself. Only a few days left. Have to hurry.

Of all the things I've lost,
I think I miss my mind the most.

 

Shaaktar
Shaaktar's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 4 months ago
Joined: Nov 18 2011 - 3:58pm

Have done that and it is really heartbreaking

Accounts where u can find me:
PSN: Shaaktar and luiguifi
S
team: Shaaktar */ADV/

 

Gatecrasher
Offline
Last seen: 2 years 5 months ago
Joined: Jul 16 2012 - 12:36pm

marqaha wrote:

Games.on.net presents 10 Lessons That Other MMO Developers Must Learn From the Death of City of Heroes.

We were forced to do the tutorial for "years and years?" I realize this guy was in love with his a-do-then-a-don't format, but that dog doesn't hunt. Neither one was mandatory after what, I want to say an issue after each release. (I know, who the hell cares, leave me alone, I'm grieving. Smile )

Samuel Tow
Samuel Tow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 9 months ago
Joined: Nov 18 2011 - 5:45am

Shaaktar wrote:
Have done that and it is really heartbreaking

I'd call it "depressing." The servers are empty, the Paragon Market is offline with a message not too different from computers in Fallout 3 telling you to stand by while a technician came by to fix the problem and I know we have, what? Three more days to go?

Still, what's there is still pretty solid, I'm finding. City of Heroes has a lot of mileage left in it, I say, and I hope NCsoft aren't doing this:

Becuse if they're not, they can make a killing selling the game to someone who'll actually run it. I really do hope they're just waiting for everything to be "over" before they do that, and they aren't just colossally stupid.

Of all the things I've lost,
I think I miss my mind the most.

 

Kodiak Breaker
Kodiak Breaker's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 months 1 week ago
Joined: Nov 29 2012 - 10:55pm

Heya Gang, sorry to see COH go but glad I was able to see Ember again and get hooked up again. I have a great new job (Math Teacher at Shorewood High School) and finally have free time. And then COH... oh well. I would love to meet up with you all in some venue or another as I have money and time again and that is a major victory. Let me know what is going on and I hope to see you all around.

Science will always Triumph!

MacAlistar in the Secret World
Lyrkon in Defiance
Ruadan in Firefall

Orion Pax
Orion Pax's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 6 days ago
Joined: Nov 7 2011 - 9:04pm

Welcome back into the fold, KB Smile

Ember Rose
Ember Rose's picture
Offline
Last seen: 11 months 1 day ago
Joined: Jan 13 2012 - 9:11pm

Welcome home, KB Smile Glad to see you in game last night!

Just one more block and I swear I'll stop.

It's never too early for a glass of wine and some zombie shooting.

marqaha
marqaha's picture
Offline
Last seen: 7 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Nov 7 2011 - 9:51pm

RPS writer Alec Meer eulogizes his beloved hero, The Entomologist, and with it Paragon City.

Quote:
Perhaps I am simply misty-eyed about my first time, and had Champions or another game arrived first I’d be saying similar things about those now. I suspect not, though. There was an innocence to City of Heroes’ early days that I don’t feel I’ve seen since – far more focus on playing dress-up and having a jolly time than on the mastery of mechanics or pursuit of statistics.
Hanna
Hanna's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 10 months ago
Joined: Jul 5 2012 - 9:34pm

marqaha wrote:

RPS writer Alec Meer eulogizes his beloved hero, The Entomologist, and with it Paragon City.

Quote:
...Far more focus on playing dress-up and having a jolly time than on the mastery of mechanics or pursuit of statistics.

+1

 

marqaha
marqaha's picture
Offline
Last seen: 7 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Nov 7 2011 - 9:51pm

So, finally at least one human being understands what I meant when I suggested we get angry, and use our anger to motivate ourselves. Author and CoH fan Mercedes Lackey. She managed to secure an interview in a Korean Newspaper, describing the closure of CoX thusly:

Quote:
“I think canceling a game that is making a profit, along with destroying jobs and an online community, is entirely unethical. And I believe that companies that do that are going to get exactly what they deserve, as customers revolt over greed killing cool.”

Its brilliant. To understand why you must first understand Korean business culture. Above all else NCSoft must avoid losing face. This cultural quirk is also why they fired Paragon on a Friday, so that the "shamed" employes wouldn't have to return to work to collect their things. By questioning NCSoft's ethics in a Korean newspaper she has embarrassed them publically.

Perhaps this will make NCSoft realize that to keep the IP idle may elicit more of this attention and encourage them to sell sooner rather than later or not at all.

To cause them further harm the article points out that NCSoft CEO Kim Taek-jin has contradicted himself in his reasons for the shutdown.

Quote:
According to local industry analysts, the game has been bringing in 3 billion won ($2.76 million) every quarter. “It is hard to comprehend what NCsoft means when they said they closed it for strategic reasons,” one analyst said.

NCsoft CEO Kim Taek-jin recently stated that he was planning a global acquisition in his bid to expand the company overseas. However, at first-glance the closure of CoH doesn’t seem in line with his plans.

“From a revenue stand point, the game contributed something below 3 percent. Still, it seems an unnecessary closure. It won’t help its image,” the analyst added.
This article is extremely harmful to NCSoft's Korean reputation, which is certainly more valuable to them then the perception we have of them in the west.

Orange Dragon
Orange Dragon's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 6 months ago
Joined: Jul 7 2012 - 9:47am

Thanks Marq.  I saw this as well and I'm so glad you posted it.  I hope they continue to get a lot of negative press.

Miserichik
Miserichik's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 3 months ago
Joined: Nov 7 2011 - 9:56pm

I am now a huge fan of Ms. Lackey.  I've read a few of her books, but she is now my hero.  Long live Victoria Victrix!

Watchdog
Watchdog's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 18 hours ago
Joined: Jul 6 2012 - 1:28pm

I admire her passion, and that of everyone else trying to get the game back online, but many of the arguments she makes (and most of the content of that article) display a fundamental misunderstanding of even the simplest aspects of business.

Quote:
I think canceling a game that is making a profit, along with destroying jobs and an online community, is entirely unethical.

She has made the point about profit many, many times on the "save CoH" forum, and she could not possibly be more wrong.  The game has revenue of about $10m per year and they declare a profit of $3m.  Those margins suck, and revenue was falling significantly.  They lost 100% of the revenue bump they got from the Freedom business model inside of 6 months.

It is in no way unethical to end a business venture whose investment outweighs its profit.  While it surprises me that they ended it without first trying to scale back its costs, it's not necessarily a bad business move.  The way the game got shut down raises a lot of questions that are still unanswered, but the fact remains that there are plenty of obvious and justifiable reasons for NCSoft to shut the game down.

Let's use my business as an example.  I make thousands of all-natural, gourmet caramel apples per week.  Making them from scratch is a tedious, time-consuming, and painful process.  My average cost is about $1.50 per unit.  They sell online for $6.95, in the store for $5.95, in event bulk for $4.75, and wholesale for $3.25.  The vast majority of our sales are wholesale.

If you told me tomorrow that all I could get for a caramel apple was $2.25 and I had no way of decreasing my costs without sacrificing quality or increasing difficulty, I would fill the orders I have on the books and never, EVER make another caramel apple.

"But it's still profitable!"

Not nearly profitable enough.  There is a point at which the money you make is not worth the effort involved.  That threshold exists with every product, and in every business.

"What about all your existing customers that love them???"

I wish them well and will always appreciate their business.  But if they think I'm mean or unreasonable or unethical for taking away something they liked, they can go fuck themselves.  I work to make a living, not to be Mr. Happy Candy Guy.  And if Mrs. Utopian Writer Lady came along and publicly slammed me at every turn and shopped my product to other companies, I'd sick a lawyer on her and tell her to go shit in her hat.

To be clear, I'm all for the game going back up and I dig the effort she's putting into trying to make that happen.  But she has no clue what she's talking about and is getting peoples' hopes up for no good reason.  If NCSoft decides to sell the IP, it'll be because of their efforts and connections, not anyone else's.

And please please please don't throw this woman a parade if the sale does happen.  When you consider that the IP has virtually zero value outside the confines of the existing game (very little hope of a sequel and the characters/lore have no value), NCSoft would be crazy not to sell if a decent offer sprang up.  Unless they're being paid to liquidate it -- which is doubtful, pretty rare, but kind of fitting time-wise given that Marvel has a hero game nearing release -- it would be silly to hold onto the IP.

In other words, the IP only has value to them if they operate the game or sell it outright.  Nothing CoH-related has any real value outside the existing game.  It serves no positive purpose for NCSoft whatsoever to keep the IP with the game shut down.  Its value diminishes every day the game is offline, and given the possible revenue and the much cheaper/profitable way it could be operated, it could have tremendous value to someone else.

Anyway, the article isn't extremely harmful to anyone's reputation.  If the game were 100% dead and this article was perceived as that big a deal, NCSoft would be commenting.  The simple financials available online are enough to refute any assertion that the game had long-term viability under its final business model.  Closing it outright is a bit of a head-scratcher, but it would be easy to shoot holes in any argument saying CoH is a no-brainer to maintain with margins as small as they were AND shrinking.

Fans are overreacting, and the melodrama is getting pretty thick.  I'm still as confused about the whys of it all, too, but given the manner and speed at which they closed the game down, there's obviously a lot to this story we simply don't know.

Samuel Tow
Samuel Tow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 9 months ago
Joined: Nov 18 2011 - 5:45am

How do "those margins suck," precisely? And how does that justify essentially dumping a product with no prior warning and no effort to save it? NCsoft aren't even saying the game was unprofitable. It's you and others who are saying it. What NCsoft execs said is it's "a realignment of company policy." Unless you want to think that their policy change to "we need to make money" and it was something else before (which I doubt), then that doesn't add up. You can speculate that that's "marketing talk" and they really mean what you're inferring they mean, but the fact remains that NCsofrt never once criticised City of Heroes for its monetary success.

Furthermore, NCsoft didn't just dump City of Heroes. They look to be moving out of the Western Market entirely, and in a hurry. ArenaNet are still making them money so of course they won't gut the studio on the heels of a major release (didn't they do that for Auto Assault?), but to me, NCsoft in general is moving away from the entirety of the Western Market. Given their Korean titles and the difference of support they've received, I honestly feel that NCsoft don't "get" this weird Western market and are convinced it's costing them too much time, money and work.

Where the resentment comes from is City of Heroes WAS a profitable game, but it was small potatos comared to their Korean grindfest MMOs, so they didn't figure it was important enough to do anything with. That's what I'm inferring from their behaviour. They didn't figure anyone would care if City of Heroes just up and disappeared, so they were cleaning their slate on the down-low. They didn't figure they'd need to do anything more than just gut the game and let it dry up, and that's both insulting from a customer relations standpoing and really, really ugly from a PR standpoint.

Business is business, but when you treat your customers and your employees like cattle for the sake of revenue, you come off as doing unethical business. And forgive me for being cynical for a moment, but I hardly see NCsoft as the struggling poor business that has to make hard decisions.

Of all the things I've lost,
I think I miss my mind the most.

 

marqaha
marqaha's picture
Offline
Last seen: 7 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Nov 7 2011 - 9:51pm

I don't agree that the margins suck. 30% gross margin is actually terrific, much better than the electronics industries, which typically see about 3 - 11%. To over-generalize, many hard-goods industries would be happy with any gp over 18%. Sure food, RTA furniture, retail clcothing could typically see in excess of 20% but this conversation can be difficult to conduct accurately without getting into details P&L analysis and we simply don't have the data.

Watchdog
Watchdog's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 18 hours ago
Joined: Jul 6 2012 - 1:28pm

Quote:
How do "those margins suck," precisely?

As marq said, we're not privy to the detailed costs of the game, but we DO have some of the broad strokes.  Ms. Lackey maintains that Paragon Studios had upwards of 86 employees when they shut down.  So NCSoft's off-site payroll was likely well over $2 million per year, and possibly substantially higher than that when you figure in the labor put in by their in-house staff.

So Paragon Studios was likely costing them over $3m per year.  Then you figure in the other costs of operation (whatever they may be) and the game has -- AT BEST -- a 30% margin that shrank in a major way in the game's last full quarter, a quarter that saw a development cycle payoff that you have to figure to be among their best in recent years (a very popular power set and a big content release, much of which was Incarnate stuff geared toward paid subscribers, plus other smaller releases and promotions).

This is not a hard goods business where they should be content with wholesale margins.  A profit margin of under 30% ain't great, especially when you just recorded a total revenue drop of 17.5%  (from $2.9m to $2.4m if I recall correctly) in a single quarter -- a quarter from which you had every right to expect an INCREASE in revenue.

Given those numbers, a first-year business major tells you that a property like CoX has a value that's peaked right now, and that that value was shrinking at an alarming rate.  IF the owner of that property wants to make the safest possible business move, it would be best to package it for sale.  That's a no-brainer.

Now how do you do that?  First you do what you can to increase projected profit margins to make it as attractive as possible to a buyer.  The biggest expendable expense was Paragon Studios.  With an operating budget likely in the $3m range, 80+% of which would be unnecessary to a potential buyer (because they only really need a specific handful of people familiar with the code and its structure), cutting Paragon Studios loose was a sound business move.  If the game came with a studio that needed a monumental overhaul to the tune of being overpriced by upwards of 2.5 million dollars...  Let's just say CoX would be FAR less attractive to buyers with the studio attached.

Second, and here again I point to Ms. Lackey, there are apparently sources reporting that NCSoft couldn't sell the property until the game was shut down.  That's certainly possible and we have no reason to doubt her word, so I guess the game needed to be shut down.  So the second thing -- shutting down the servers -- makes the first thing much easier to do.  You don't need the studio if the game isn't up.

And that's where we are now.  We don't know what'll happen next, but I would say again that the entirety of the CoX property has no value to NCSoft whatsoever now that the game is shut down.  It DOES have potential value to another company, so it would be silly not to sell it.  Again, if they had any internal plans for the IP it would be a monstrous mistake to shut the game down.

Furthermore, if the plan was to shut it down and do nothing with it, they would have no reason to be so tight-lipped about the whole situation especially if doing so, as marq asserts, is causing them devastating amounts of cultural shame and humiliation.  All they would need to do is explain the financial situation the way I just did (with all the inside info that would make it all the more compelling) and say there was no interest when they looked into selling it; that they didn't receive worthwhile offers.  That simple explanation alone -- arguable but sound -- would eliminate this supposed shame 100%.

As long as they can refute the claim that this was a horrible, unethical business decision, which is easy because it's very simply not horrible or unethical, then they're suffering no PR problem beyond what is typically associated with business closures of this kind.

And marq, if you really want to compare it to a hard goods business, this is EXACTLY what Hostess just did.  They were faced with operating costs that were not in line with the budget they had in mind, so they shut down production of products so popular that they border on being considered Americana.  And they did it EXACTLY the same way -- unexpectedly and very abruptly.  Why?  Because their current situation was devaluing their property, and now that it's shut down they can sell those products to other interested parties (which will ABSOLUTELY happen in this case).

CoX being sold off isn't the mortal lock that the certain survival of Twinkies is, but the way NCSoft has done things so far appears to be very much in line with at least TRYING to get the game packaged for another suitor, and this is what bugs me about what Ms. Lackey is doing.  Even with the limited numbers that are available to us and a rudimentary understanding of business of this magnitude, everything that NCSoft has done to date -- from the announcement of the shutdown to now -- reads like a how-to guide on selling a property like this one.

And her own "inside sources" reinforce that.  Her sources say the game had to be dormant to be sold; that there was some legal reason that had to happen first.  Given that, if NCSoft wanted to sell CoX, it would have to...

1)  Shut the game down, apparently for legal reasons.

2)  Shut down the studio because -- at the very least -- continuing to operate the studio without the revenue it generates would be stupid and fiscally irresponsible.  And at most, it makes the CoX property FAR more attractive on paper to not have that huge, largely unnecessary cost associated with it.  And...

3)  Not talk about it.  If Ms. Lackey is correct about the legal issue, then they have separate legal AND business reasons to not be talking to the media about this.  At this point press would only complicate the legal issue, and speculative public commentary on potential 10-figure business transactions is also a big, obvious no-no.  They wouldn't talk about trying to sell it, possible buyers, or any negotiations of any kind.  You don't get the press involved until a deal is done -- your buyer would insist on that because that press would be paramount to the success of their immediate plans for the property...  It's part of what they'd be buying.  NCSoft's silence is worth money, in other words.  Talking about it could torpedo opportunities to sell.  Ms. Lackey's current efforts could be HURTING the potential future of the game, is my point.

If Ms. Lackey is correct those are the 3 things NCSoft would have to do to sell CoX.  Selling CoX is exactly what she wants them to do.  NCSoft has done all 3 of those things.  Ms. Lackey is calling them stupid and unethical.  Every thing they've done points to them trying to maximize its value and package it for sale, which is what she wants them to do, and she's crucifying them for it.

The only real point at issue here -- the only thing she has any real right to disagree with NCSoft on given the facts available to us -- is the closure of Paragon Studios.  And that's clearly a case of her not understanding business on any level.  Paragon Studios was FAR too costly to keep attached to this property, especially if they had to shut it down to sell it.  It's a no-brainer.

I deeply admire her intentions and the strength of her convictions, but the woman should really hit the PAUSE button on everything she's doing.  I have no idea whether NCSoft plans to sell the game or not, but the only business reason I can think of to shut the game down so abruptly was that Q2 was a big, unexpected loss for the game, the first 2 months of Q3 were probably more of the same, they apparently have to shut the game down if they plan to sell it, and given the declining numbers they had to sell it as quickly as humanly possible.

That makes sense.  

Shutting down a game that could have been much more profitable to them if they streamlined Paragon Studios and maybe tweaked their business model a bit only makes sense if they intend to sell it, its value was declining quickly, and they shut down so quickly that they had to give refunds, when extending the game through the end of the year would have eliminated refunds for anyone but long-term subscribers and would have given the game a nice, natural, and fitting end on New Year's Eve.  Or they could have milked some more profit from it for a few months and had it go out on its birthday.

They had an issue release chambered and it was still profitable.  Shutting it down so quickly with no plans to sell makes no sense.

So if what makes sense is true, Ms. Lackey should really stop doing what she's doing.  If what doesn't makes sense is true, then there's no point to what she's doing because NCSoft is nutty and obviously either extremely determined to leave the western market regardless of expense, very determined to hold onto the CoX property regardless of expense, or some weird combination of the two.

Regardless, the press she's generating right now isn't helping anything.  She's a noteworthy writer handing a provocative story to any news outlet that'll take it.  It's a free byline for any takers because NCSoft isn't talking -- just the terse, two-line responses you get from a corporation that really doesn't want to comment but doesn't want to come off as disinterested or heartless.

It's a slam-dunk, no-effort story for any outlet looking for something to run.  It's all conjecture and hyperbole because only one side is talking and it's the side that has VERY little in the way of facts, which is why most reputable news outlets are staying away from it.  It's getting traction online mostly on gaming sites, but very little outside of that.  The write-up on the Korean Times comes off like a human interest story, no doubt because of the limited amount of facts (i.e. the stuff that would make it a worthwhile and compelling business story).

My apologies for another novel-length post.  I'm just trying to be very clear about my perspective on this because I don't want to trivialize the issue or make it sound like I'm opposed to the game having a future.  I think Ms. Lackey is a great lady and I wish her well.  I just don't agree with what she's doing.  I think she's jumped to some very lofty conclusions and might very well be complicating this issue rather than helping.

Samuel Tow
Samuel Tow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 9 months ago
Joined: Nov 18 2011 - 5:45am

I don't have the time respond in full for now, so I'll say this:

Firstly, that's $3 million in revenue, which is sans the costs of running the studio, as far as I know. Secondly, NCsoft have been very clear about having no desire to sell City of Heroes. They have, so far on record, stated just this, and have also said that there have been no interested buyers, despite a number of companies claiming to have approached NCsoft with offers.

I don't know what NCsoft's silence means, but I know what their press releases mean, since they were pretty blunt with them despite all the marketing talk. Besides, how many other game properties have NCsoft already shut down with not just no effort to sell them off, but also with effort to shut down fan servers? If NCsoft do anything BUT sit on City of Heroes and let it rot - as they've been known to do - then I'll be very surprised indeed.

Of all the things I've lost,
I think I miss my mind the most.

 

Samuel Tow
Samuel Tow's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 year 9 months ago
Joined: Nov 18 2011 - 5:45am

OK, I have more time to post now. I had a guest over so I chruned out a fast-type response before, in about the time it took for a World of Tanks match to load.

Here are my problems with trying to Market-analyse NCsoft as a means of playing Devil's Advocate:

We know City of Heroes was profitable. Just HOW profitable is up for debate, but we know it was covering all of its expenses, including salaries, upkeep and development and generating revenue. The problem was not that City of Heroes was costing NCsoft more money than it brought in. Aion did that, and that wasn't shut down. The problem was that it wasn't bringing in enough money to be enough of a blip on the radar against Lineage and NC's other Korean products. This is a big business "streamlining" its properties, and I've had enough of that shit from Microsoft constantly pushing "upgraded" software on me in an effort to speed up their own production line.

We know NCsoft have no plans to sell City of Heroes, or at the very least had none last I checked. We know this because they've said this. Repeatedly. They even went for the excuse that no purchase offers were made, despite ample evidence that other companies had approached NC with an offer, and were turned down. Paragon Studios personnel were, purportedly, "negotiating something" with NC, but from last news, that came up toe precisely bupkis. I don't know if they got stonewalled or an agreement could simply not be reached, but nothing came of it.

We know NCsoft have a history of killing MMOs and then sitting on the licenses for no real reason. They aren't making any money off Auto Assault or Tabula Rasa, but they went out of their way to shut down a Tabula Rasa "private server" so clearly they don't want their property out and about. Now, it's their property (after they conned Richaed Gariott out of it, apparently), but to me, this kind of draconian shutdown policy is bizarre if NCsoft didn't plan to actually do anything with the license. Which they didn't and they don't. So they basically killed Tabula Rasa and made every effort within their power to stay dead for no reason that I can see which could benefit them in all but a very indirect way. They aren't making money off of the games they shut down, but to the best of my knowledge, they've yet to do anything with any of 'em.

We know NCsoft have a history of "unethical" practices, famously presenting Richard Gariott's company-mandated departure as voluntary, forcing the man to sell his stocks at a bad price. He proceeded to then sue them for A LOT of money. If you see NCsoft being skittish about having anything done with City of Heroes, it's less likely because they're "up to something" and more likely because they're paranoid they'll get sucked into another legal loop hole and lose another 30 million dollars over it. I agree with you that they want City of Heroes DEAD, but I don't agree that it's because they're legally required to do so before they can sell it. To my eyes, they want City of Heroes dead so that nobody can sue them over it if they've made sure the game should no longer exist.

Finally, NCsoft is moving away from the Western Market. Period. They've said so themselves, they've alluded to it before, and their actions recently speak volumes for their "agenda." They're dumping their Western developers, and I feel for ArenaNet if Guild Wars 2 ever slips. Even as profitable as it is now, the entirety of the Western market is a drop in the ocean for NC. They can afford to lose it and not see their charts budge all that much. That's the evil corporate politics people are talking about - NCsoft have made it clear that we, as Westerners, don't really matter to them as customers. They can afford to lose us, and they're A-OK with this. They still have the Asian market where all their money comes from anyway.

Finally, and this may be subjective of me to say, but NCsoft do not get the Western market as a general thing. They never have. From the very beginning, West and East have clashed. City of Hero did TERRIBLY in Korea, and NCsoft insisted it be given basically a whole new cast of signature characters that look like they were ripped off your run-of-the-mill JRPG (sorry, Foreshadow!). City of Hero was such an amazing flop it never actually launched at all. Conversely, games which are massively popular in Asia, such as Lineage 2 and the like, just don't do as well in a Western market. I wouldn't want to speak on why, but from everything they've done, it seems to me NCsoft execs just "get" the Korean mentality an Korean games, and they don't "get" Western games. And when the company starts failing, you cut the stuff you never wanted in the first place, you don't get and isn't making you all that much money anyway.

City of Heroes will not get sold to anyone, and I would bet money on that (seriously, $10 says I'm right, PayPal be my witness). I'd love for it to happen - of course I would. But I've seen NCsoft kill MMO after MMO and I'm not that arrogant as to think my favourite is somehow different. The best we can hope for that's actually realistic is some kind of illegal hacked server that makes the game at least playable in its final state, but even that seems unlikely since NCsoft would be all over that with C&D orders. I don't consider the game being sold to Perfect World or Nexon or some such as a viable option, because I don't believe it will happen.

Well, cards on the table - I feel that the best outcome would be for the Phoenix Project Z to actually bear fruit, and not just because I have a hand in it. But even at the best of times, that's still worlds away from being a reality.

Of all the things I've lost,
I think I miss my mind the most.

 

Pages