They're not legaly required to shut down the game before selling it. Rather shutting it down completely allows them to cut through the legal knot of selling CoH that would be otherwise present if it were still live.
At the expense of thought to be wearing a tin foil hat, I think Nexon is truly at the core of CoH's shut down. We had NCSoft saying they were pledged to the longevity and success of CoH back in the spring. Few months later Nexon purchases a controling share in NCSoft and a few months after that we have the shutdown announced. So, it's entirely possible that Nexon wasn't happy with PS and pushed for the shutdown of the game, whether that reason may be.
As for the financial aspects of the game. I would think that if a financial analyst is saying 'WTF?' when it comes to the game shut down, at least from a financial aspect, that has to mean something. Addtionally, it hasn't been mentioned here, but PS was working on the development of other projects. So those 86 people were not all working on CoH, which is somewhat verified by devs making comments about the rest of the development team and there being nothing indicating that the CoH development/production team being that robust.
On a side note CoH was responsible for at least of half of the western market income to NCSoft, so what does that mean for the other NCSoft titles in the western market?
I don't think NCSoft had any real intention of selling off CoH, despite what their shut down actions may indicate. I would think part of the attraction of selling off CoH would be the development team working on it - why go and have to train people and get them used to the jumbled mess of CoH's code, when you have people already experienced with it? However, the majority of the development team has already gotten jobs elsewhere. And only under all the negative press and outcry from the fans has NCSoft said anything regarding the potential sale of CoH and it all comes off as contradictory.
To be clear, I personally agree with most of what you've said here, Razor. I'm not at all optimistic about the game being sold. My points are simply...
* It is NOT a horrible business move for NCSoft to shut this game down. From a financial perspective, the margins weren't inviting and the projected margins were alarming. From a business perspective, if NCSoft wants to get out of the western market, they are perfectly entitled to do that. Yes, there were certainly ways to make the game more profitable, but at the end of the day CoX was an inconsequential property for them. If shutting it down lines up with their plans, there are plenty of justifiable reasons to support it.
* It is NOT unethical for NCSoft to shut this game down. They owe you what you paid for, and nothing more. It's very much akin to canceling a TV show. You may love the show, you may have watched for several years and bought DVDs and went to conventions and made T-shirts and so on, but when the powers that be decide that it's time to shut it down -- whether it's for creative or commercial reasons -- that's the end of it. You have every right to be sad and you'd be justified in feeling jaded for a time, but that doesn't mean the people that shut it down are unethical or unscrupulous.
Too much talk about NCSoft being unethical, mean, unfair, and uncaring. Bullshit. These are business people running a company the best way they see fit. They don't have to pursue the western market if they don't want to. They don't have to continue running a game if it no longer suits their business model. They don't have to honor everything they've ever said. Companies change. Intentions change. Financial outlooks change. You mention that Nexon bought a controlling interest, and that that seemed to effect NCSoft's plans for the game. That happens in business. There is nothing unethical about it.
* And as for the game's financial health at the end... Look, you can find a financial analyst to say anything. You put 20 Nobel-worthy economic minds in a room and ask them to predict specific things about our economy 1 year out and you'll get a lot of wildly different responses. Economic projections are 100% about perspective. Yes, the game was profitable. And yes, there was a LOT of fat in Paragon Studios that could have been trimmed to improve the financial outlook of the game.
But to even start to go down that road, you first have to want to. It doesn't look like NCSoft wanted to. They changed to a drastically new business model last year that only yielded gains for 6 months. At the end of Q2 this year they were right back where they started. They could have tweaked the model, they could have cut the PS staff that was working on other projects and streamlined the rest (effectively going to war with a subsidiary -- the PS honchos would have HATED a downsizing of that magnitude), and they could have chosen to invest more in the property (a sequel or another expansion).
But again, to even start down that road, you have to want to. It's a perfectly sound business move to just say, "You know what? Let's be done with this. The numbers are dropping, the game's shelf life is waning, it's not worth the hassle to fix a game in a market we don't want to be in anymore, and our new investors aren't wild about it to begin with."
It's not that the game wasn't making money. It's whether or not that amount of money was meaningful to them given the rest of their plans. When you have as many revenue streams as they do, moves like these are commonplace.
And here again I'd point you to Hostess or even one of my companies. If our wholesaling business keeps going the way it is, I'm going to stop doing chocolate fountains. Chocolate fountains are extremely profitable -- all labor and very little out-of-pocket expense for great returns -- but they're a pain in the ass that often come up last-minute and complicate the hell out of my life.
It's a sound business move that has very little to do with profit. I'd be cutting something loose to focus more of my attention on something else. It's about convenience, peace of mind, and alleviating frustration. With the revenue from wholesale, the revenue from fountains is expendable, and it may prove out that my time is better spent this way. It might go the other way and cost me in the end. But my business would be more streamlined and I'd be a happier, less stressed guy.
We may take a significant hit from the move financially or it could prove to be a great decision. Either way it's a choice I can afford to make if it means moving my business more in the direction I want it to go.
I bristle at the idea, as marq asserts, that this lady is bringing profound humiliation and shame down upon this company. Why is that a good thing? What did they do wrong, exactly? I know we enjoy this game (though if we're being honest it's more nostalgia than anything else cuz this group hasn't played CoX regularly in significant numbers in years), but did you honestly thing it would never end?
I know it was abrupt and jarring and I feel the same way you do -- I was subscribed and playing almost daily when the announcement was made -- but I don't see that NCSoft did anything wrong.
I wish it had gone another way. I wish they felt they had more of a vested interest in CoH. I which they'd given us more time.
But it's not a horrible business move for them and it's absolutely not unethical or unscrupulous. It makes sense from their perspective (and from mine when I take the emotional blinders off). Many fans have no interest in those perspectives and I get that, but these conclusions that so many are jumping to are pretty extreme and largely baseless.
Yeah, I don't think it's right to label this all as unethical or some of the other things that are getting flung around. They did what they did, and as fans it sucks major ass, but NCSoft has their reasons for it and we can only speculate.
I hope that in the aftermath NCSoft does "change" its mind and decide to sell off CoH and they find a suitable buyer that might more actively invest themselves in the game and push the game out there better so that it can become much more successul than it was with NCSoft.
Watchdog wrote: It is NOT a horrible business move for NCSoft to shut this game down. From a financial perspective, the margins weren't inviting and the projected margins were alarming. From a business perspective, if NCSoft wants to get out of the western market, they are perfectly entitled to do that. Yes, there were certainly ways to make the game more profitable, but at the end of the day CoX was an inconsequential property for them. If shutting it down lines up with their plans, there are plenty of justifiable reasons to support it.
And they're welcome to join the ranks of EA and UbiSoft if that's what they want. Giving a "well, it's just business, no hard feelings" excuse for a very upsetting move like this, especially in light of how they handled it, is precisely what makes an "evil corporation" evil. It's what makes EA EA, and what put them ahead of the Bank of America as "America's Worst Company." Yes, they're free to do what they want with their property, just like they were free to ban my account if I spell the word "colour" wrong and send me a sarcastic e-mail to inform me of this. I'd have no legal ground to complain, because I accepted the EULA which lets them do this. But it would have been an asshole move to make.
As was dismantling City of Heroes on short notice and firing its entire development staff. I - and let me NOT pick my words carefully here - couldn't give a toss about their business situation. They could be living in famine and squalor and I wouldn't care even the slightest bit if THAT is how they handle their business. You do not treat a franchise with a following like a box of hot cakes, and you do not cancel it and then just shrug, going "Oh, well. Business is business."
Yes, business is business. And I'm going to take my business to a company that isn't run by insensitive jerks. As Paragon Studios and Valve aptly demonstrate, that's not just possible, it's actually profitable. Why do you think I have dozens of games on Steam and yet I refuse to even load up Origin? Because I do not like EA and because I'm only ever going to play one of their games by proxy. I'm certainly not going to feed their vastly inferior competitive product they made for the sole purpose of having one on the market and with no eye towards quality or the user experience.
Whether it's "ethical" or no is not the problem. It isn't nice, and despite what you may insist, you CAN be nice and still run a profitable business. You can, because there are plenty of people like me who will, given roughly equal conditions, pick the nice business over the jerk-run business every time. Any business that treats its customers like cattle and is prepared to sacrifice them at a moment's notice with nary so much as an excuse is a business that I really don't want to have anything to do with if I can help it. And despite me standing against proposed boycotts, I really don't intend to buy anything from NCsoft again unless they have monopoly on an entire type of product.
As far as I'm concerned, any company which puts "business convenience" before customer relations deserves every bit of negative press it gets, and that's exactly what NCsoft did. Far as I care, they deserve to be slandered. They could have had an actual "sunset" for the game, but instead they chose to pull the plug and pretend it never was, because they don't care about us as customers. Why the WWF would I care about them, then?
This isn't about City of Heroes lasting forever. Nobody thought that. It's about how it ended. NCsoft tried to bury it and they did the absolute minimum possible that they could get away with to kill it. They did not care about ending City of Heroes on a high note, they did not care about making the ending special or memorable for the people who had, up to that point, been loyal customers of theirs. They failed at even the most basic part of customer relations. They simply flipped a switch and then proceeded to furiously ignore the issue because... Well, the game's over. It's not their problem any more. All of us who like the game, we can go to hell for all they cared. Because it's a business decision, and people don't matter in business decisions.
I'm sorry, Watchdog, but I'm not going to budge on this, and no amount of "business logic" is going to convince me. Like I said - even if shutting down City of Heroes was the only way to save NCsoft from utter ruination (which it wasn't), the way they did it still makes them complete assholes in my eyes. You can do the right thing and still do it the wrong way, and NCsoft could not have done this worse. Well, I suppose they technically could have, by repeating the Richard Gariott fraud, but there is no way they could have done this worse that's still in any way, shape or form legal or even just rational.
I don't contest that this was a sound business move. Clearly it was, or they wouldn't have done it. I'm simply saying that it's a giant dick move because of how it was handled, and NCsoft deserve to suffer the fallout from their own customer service.
Of all the things I've lost,I think I miss my mind the most.
As a business man with over 2 decades experience I can say unequivocally that any business decision that enrages 100,000 of your customers, is a bad decision.
Let's consider some statistics, c. 2007 (and originally pertaining to the service industry):Statistically, if a customer is happy with your service he or she is 10% likely to tell one other person. If a customer is unhappy he or she is 70% likely to tell 10 people. Furthermore, an unhappy customer for whom a company makes things right is 7 times more loyal than the customer who never had a problem in the first place. Sadly there are no statistics quantifying whether those third parties decide to patronize a business whom their friends have have warned against.
NC Soft has closed a profitable business, laid off dozens of highly trained specialists in a very insular industry, and dismantled what analysts are suggesting is 50% of their North American market. In that context, is NC Soft's decision to wipe Paragon off the map really a good one?
Sam, I kow ou ca't read tis, but I tik we've all gotte past te part were we tr to cage eac oter's mids. Ad awa, we're all muc too adorable te wa we are.
Hanna wrote: Sam, I know you can't read this, but I think we've all gotten past the part were we try to cage each other's minds. And anyway, we're all much too adorable the way we are.
Well, when you address it to me, I kind of have to take the time and put in the effort to read it. It's only polite
And don't worry about it, Hanna. I'm not trying to be the jerk around here. As Marq will tell you, my opinion is somewhat difficult to change in general But in this case, I'm simply appalled at how NCsoft does business. I'm sure it's a sound business decision from a dry economics perspective - I can't imagine any corporation would be ill-advised enough to make an obvious mistake (oh, ye of little faith...). However, what's right from a business perspective and what's "right" from a customer service perspective don't always interact, and with the sprawling propensity of the internet, public relations are becoming powerful enough to have a huge impact on business just by themselves.
I don't buy that "the customer is always right" - that would be insane for anyone who's ever worked in or with customer support. But "customers" really should always be seen as being right, because they're the ones who hold all the money at the end of the day. A corporation doesn't "generate" money, it offers a service for which people pay it money. Piss off the public enough, lose enough of those people and you're not looking at being very successful. It's true that investors bring in a lot more than customers do, but investors do this predicated on the fact that customers will bring in money, too, to return on that investment.
Basically, if you treat your customers like cattle, they WILL migrate to the service that treats them better. And NCsoft deserve to learn this the hard way. Do not be like EA.
EA isn't even the worst of them anymore. Activision, or especially Ubisoft blow them away.
Sam -- what would have been the nice way to close the game? They made the announcement, offered up refunds for deserving customers, and gave you 3 months to end your CoH experience however you saw fit. And the game was free for those three months, and paid content was free to those paying when the announcement came down.
So is it strictly that they dismantled Paragon Studios that has you so fired up? They were opting out of the game. What purpose did Paragon Studios serve beyond that? You said they're bound and determinted to leave the western market and agreed they have every right to make that choice, but they're supposed to continue employing the CoX staff to do what, exactly?
Are you sure there weren't severance packages? Are you sure that this choice didn't come about (or partially come about) due to things that the PS staff did or didn't do? Have you considered that this could have been, and likely was, at least partially their fault? Why are you assuming that this was 100% NCSoft telling Paragon Studios to go fuck themselves? How do you know there weren't big, ongoing issues that contributed to these decisions?
The amount of speculation, inference, and outright conjecture in the arguments you're making are staggering. You don't know what actually happened. No one does. It could be that it was an extremely contentious situation; that NCSoft's subsequent silence is because they've got nothing nice to say; that maybe if they did speak you'd be surprised by the truth. In the absence of knowledge, you've leapt to some pretty big conclusions. You have no idea what happened, but somehow you know exactly who's at fault, how they feel about it, and that they're just plain evil.
You've said, and marq apparently agrees, that NCSoft is on their way to leaving the western market altogether, or as much as possible & as quickly as possible. You say they have no grasp of the western market and seem disinclined to pursue business here. And then you and marq both say how important it is for them to treat their CoH customers (almost exclusively westerners) like they're the lifeblood of their company. How do you reconcile the disparity between those two arguments?
If they don't care about the western market, why should they prioritize their western customers over their own plans, preferences, and interests? You're pretty plainly saying that they should keep catering to customers they are no longer interested in soliciting.
And marq, your statistics are comparing this industry with another in ways that just don't line up. This isn't a customer service issue. The game was going to end at some point, and this was basically how it was going to happen. They gave their customers a free sandbox to play in for 3 months, automatic refunds to everyone who had them coming, and saw to the operation of the game during that time. What else should they have done? More notice? How much is enough?
And we still have no idea whether they're trying to sell CoX right now. They could be.
Is your beef the Paragon Studios thing, too? Did those people not deserve to work on a game that had a future? With talks of a sequel off the table, everyone that worked there must have known this was coming sooner or later, and this isn't something you generally give a lot of notice on. Unfair as it may seem, paying unnecessary staff in the absence of revenue is a double whammy. How do explain a completely unnecessary $400,000 to $800,000 expense? Giving them an irritated, spiteful 3 months to control an active property also isn't a great idea. Layoffs like these are ALWAYS sudden and NEVER pleasant. That's the nature of the thing. NCSoft didn't invent it.
If 100,000 people are pissed off, it's because they loved the game and are shattered that it's gone. The dick move would have been shutting it down quicker. And as Sam said, CoX never took off in their home market, so how many of those 100,000 people do they actually have to worry about? If they're moving out of the west and those 100K are almost exclusively westerners, what have they really lost?
And again, name the way they could have shut the game down that would have made those people happy. We all know there isn't one. Those people were going to be pissed no matter how it went down.
I'm not saying you shouldn't be pissed. I'M pissed. It bugs me to no end that this was ostensibly a property that was completely out of sight and out of mind that sent them a few million bucks a year. But we simply do not have enough facts to judge them as harshly as they've been judged these past few months. I have a really hard time getting that profoundly angry when the basis for most of it is guesswork at best.
If they were unhappy with the revenue, then the truth is they could have shut down CoX over a year ago, took their leftover Rogue box money and ran. THAT would have been a dick move.
Looking only at the facts, I can't really fault them for all that much. It's still confusing to me, but for every speculative reason to be angry there's at least one possible & rational explanation for it. I admit that I probably don't follow the gaming world as closely as you guys do (I didn't know EA was evil -- I'm still a huge fan of their NHL & Madden games), but I think I've read everything out there on the closure of CoX and I honestly can't find much fault.
I thought they gave us enough time, were fair about the money, and that it was kinda cool of them to handle it that way when they very easily could have shut it down within a month. I get the Paragon Studios move, too. It totally sucks, but it was a must if the game was closing.
I get that you're pissed and sad. I am, too. I just don't see any evidence to direct all that energy at NCSoft, or to label them as evil. I think all that hubbub is WAY over the top, extremely melodramatic, and based on an awful lot of spiteful guessing...
Watchdog wrote: Sam -- what would have been the nice way to close the game? They made the announcement, offered up refunds for deserving customers, and gave you 3 months to end your CoH experience however you saw fit. And the game was free for those three months, and paid content was free to those paying when the announcement came down.
Kept the studio alive until the servers shut down, how about? That way, we won't be in a situation where Hit Streak is basically putting in his own free time to host an event that he has nobody to support him with. No server techs if the hardware craps out, no programmers to at least patch things up if something horrid shows up. Or how about you give them SOME WARNING so they can wrap up what they're doing, get their latest content out the door and make something memorable of the last few months? O noes! It would cost them money! Yes, it would. That's the point. I would have expected them to expend at least SOME expense shutting the game down, and they didn't. They pulled the plug and let the thing rot, come what may.
Watchdog wrote: The amount of speculation, inference, and outright conjecture in the arguments you're making are staggering. You don't know what actually happened. No one does. It could be that it was an extremely contentious situation; that NCSoft's subsequent silence is because they've got nothing nice to say; that maybe if they did speak you'd be surprised by the truth. In the absence of knowledge, you've leapt to some pretty big conclusions. You have no idea what happened, but somehow you know exactly who's at fault, how they feel about it, and that they're just plain evil.
How do you figure I don't know what happened? The situation was pretty well covered in all but internal NC politics. If it's something Paragon Studios did, they had no idea that they'd done anything wrong because the developers rolled out a promo video the day before. Nobody had any warning that something is wrong, and that is simply not a good way to handle firing an entire studio at the head of a long holiday. That is not a way to treat a game. What, precisely, do I need to know more? That Matt Miller insulted some NCsoft exec's mother? Please don't patronise me.
Watchdog wrote: You've said, and marq apparently agrees, that NCSoft is on their way to leaving the western market. If they don't care about the western market, why should they prioritize their western customers over their own plans, preferences, and interests? You're pretty plainly saying that they should keep catering to customers they are no longer interested in soliciting.
Because that's burning bridges, and burning bridges is a crap business practice. If they ever decide to come back to the Western market, I can tell you for a fact that they won't be welcome. It's bad business practice because it generates terrible press that WILL resonate around the world, and it simply kills any realistic chance of NCsoft coming back to the Western market, at least with any real degree of success up-front.
Watchdog wrote: And marq, your statistics are comparing this industry with another in ways that just don't line up. This isn't a customer service issue.
No offence, but how is your comparison any more applicable?
Watchdog wrote: And we still have no idea whether they're trying to sell CoX right now. They could be.
They aren't. How many ways can I say "They said they're not interested?" They are not going to sell City of Heroes. They're going to sit on the franchise until everyone but the die-hard fans forget the game existed. Because that's what NCsoft does. You can be the one making giant assumptions by presuming they'll break their habit, but this is simply how NCsoft handle their ceased MMOs - they shut them down and they bury them. Sure, the franchises don't make them any money, but if they cared about what money they could make from City of Heroes, they would not have shut the game down with a day's worth of nitce before firing the entire development staff so that developers have to put in their own time just to keep basic functionality.
NCsoft will not sell City of Heroes. As I said - I'm willing to bet money on that.
Watchdog wrote: If 100,000 people are pissed off, it's because they loved the game and are shattered that it's gone. The dick move would have been shutting it down quicker. And as Sam said, CoX never took off in their home market, so how many of those 100,000 people do they actually have to worry about? If they're moving out of the west and those 100K are almost exclusively westerners, what have they really lost?
"How many of those people do they have to worry about?" is precisely what makes a corporation evil. You call it business, I call it ethics. If you're looking at your customers like a statistic you "don't have to worry about," you're already running a business I want very little to do with. That's why I've taken my business away from EA and Activision and Uni and almost exclusively to Valve - because they offer good service, as well as professional integrity. Sure, there have been a few SNAFUs, but nothing even remotely on this calibre.
Watchdog wrote: But we simply do not have enough facts to judge them as harshly as they've been judged these past few months. I have a really hard time getting that profoundly angry when the basis for most of it is guesswork at best.
Yes we do. Were you not following the news and events as this developed?
Watchdog wrote: If they were unhappy with the revenue, then the truth is they could have shut down CoX over a year ago, took their leftover Rogue box money and ran. THAT would have been a dick move.
It would have made very little difference in my eyes. I don't care about the money. That was my entire thesis when discussing the Paragon Market and VIP status. I don't care how much they charge me (within reason, obviously) so long as I get good service and respectful treatment in return. I don't care if NCsoft cash in on Going Rogue and run or if they wait a few years and then cash and run. It's the principle of HOW they did it that matters.
When a decent company sunsets an MMO, it's the best god damn last weeks of the game, with events, developer interaction and all of that stuff. It's the time that you invest, because that's what people who stick out till the end will remember. Send them off well, and they may well just come back for more. NCsoft didn't care. To them, the Western market players are just a head count. Someone figured they could be lost with not a lot of revenue drop, so they did. And it's not just now that I feel like this. They've always behave this way, it's just that this is the biggest, brightest example of it.
Watchdog wrote: I get that you're pissed and sad. I am, too. I just don't see any evidence to direct all that energy at NCSoft, or to label them as evil. I think all that hubbub is WAY over the top, extremely melodramatic, and based on an awful lot of spiteful guessing...
I'm not pissed off. OK, I am - at having to repeatedly justify myself when you apparently have all the facts that I don't. But I'm not pissed off at NCsoft. I don't want anything to do with NCsoft. It's that simple. They make shit games and have always made shit games. Occasionally they'll hit upon a decent development studio to make a good game for them, and if they don't shut it down within a year for lack of understanding how such a property might be profitable, they milk it for money via microtransactions and sideline it in terms of marketing and support.
NCsoft were a terrible company long before City of Heroes was cancelled. It's just that with it gone, I now have no reason whatsoever to put up with their shit. I'm sick and tired of feeling like a foreigner twice over because a Korean developer hosts a US game with a European version. I'm tired of the culture clash and worrying about how Lineage and Aion are doing, because if Aion tanks, we all know something else is going to get the axe. Because Aion is a Korean game, and to admit that's a failure is shameful. To admit an American game is at fault, well... It's an American game, and they're moving away from the American and Western markets anyway.
Call it guesswork, call it assumptions. I call it public opinion, because I'm hardly the only one who feels this way. Square Enix did the smart thing. They realised their own Japanese games were turning into garbage, their customer support was terrible and their reputation was in the toilet. And now they're changing. They out-and-out apologised for the latest Final Fantasy game at the time and they have improved tremendously. For a culture as mired in "honour" as theirs, what Square Enix did is admirable, and I no longer avoid any titles with their name in the credits.
NCsoft didn't do that. They couldn't admit they screwed up. They couldn't admit they failed. So they cut City of Heroes to make the books look right. Well, Aion is still draining their coffers, so I sure hope that delay of the inevitable buys them enough time. But if you want to analyse NCsoft's analyse all of them and analyse where, exactly, they're bleeding money. If they wanted to make a "business" decision, they'd have axed or at least downsized the property that's actively costing them money to keep active, as opposed to killing one that was making at least a modest profit. "A little" profit is better than a net loss.
NCsoft were a crap company before the whole thing with City of Heroes. From Lineage to Aion to Blade and fucking Soul. The guys who skedaddled from the Lineage sequel and made Tera instead were the smart ones, and I would bet money they'll end up being more successful than Blade and Soul in the end. I don't know much about them, personally - maybe they're just as bad. Razor would know, he's played Tera more. But I can tell you one thing - I no longer have a reason to excuse NCsoft's behaviour and attitude.
You don't have to agree with me. That's fine. You're entitled to your opinion, as are we all. But please don't patronise me by just tossing accusations my way like you have. The fact of the matter is I do not like NCsoft. I never have. For a time, they seemed like they were doing the smart thing like Valve have been for years, but that didn't last. I don't like NCsoft and you're not going to change my mind. Period. The most you're going to do is find some way to insult me in the process of basically restating the same facts several times over now. I don't take offence easily, but I'm getting there on this one.
What, exactly, do you gain by defending NCsoft so staunchly? I'm just curious here. Are you so convinced that they're just an innocent corporation which is getting so unfairly slandered that you HAVE to do something to save its good name? Because that's how you're coming off. There's a point past which "calling for moderation" isn't any more, and I'm fairly sure we've passed that point. My mind is unchangeable on the subject. What more can I say?
I mean... If you want to discuss the situation for the sake of discussing it, then sure, I'd be all over that. But then please pick your words a little more selectively so it doesn't come off like you're talking down at me for being wrong. I'm willing to discuss NCsoft and why I feel they're "evil," so long as we don't put me on the defensive of having to repeatedly justify why I feel the way I do and why I should be allowed to feel the way that I do.
Actually, I'll give you an example. A thread on the Titan Network asks if we would subscribe to City of Heroes if NCsoft went back on their decision and reinstated the game. To this, my answer is "yes, of course." But not because I'm desperate for City of Heroes, but rather because this sort of move would force NCsoft to admit they made a mistake. And that mistake, by the way, isn't just shutting down City of Heroes, it's blaming the Western market for troubles in the East that they simply don't care to admit to. It would show me they care about their conduct and behaviour.
To me, a company which admits it made a mistake is a company I can respect. I don't get this stigma against it which drives companies to hide the truth under false pretence, but I'd sooner be told straight up to my face "Yes, we screwed you over, we're sorry, can we try again?" Square Enix did that and it seems to have worked for them. If NCsoft did the same, then of course I'll do business with them again. But they won't do it. Because they're never wrong. Corporations like them don't make mistake, they just conduct "corporate realignment" to "streamline their business model." And if anything pisses me off, it's that.
In fact, if they'd come out and said "Our business in Asia isn't going so well so we need to cut corners somewhere!" I might have understood it. I probably wouldn't have liked it, and would very likely still consider them a bad corporation, but at least they'd be an honest bad corporation. There'd be something about them I can respect. Right now, though? There's nothing. Even if we talk about certainties that I know for sure... They make crappy games, their customer support isn't all that good and they have a history of shutting down games that have strayed from the mould. Those are plenty of mistakes right there.
I will change my opinion of NCsoft if and when they can admit their own mistakes.
I've slept on it (my last post was at 5 AM, no joke), and I think I have a bit more level-headed context to explain my position. Specifically, I want to address what I KNOW will turn into an issue:
Was closing City of Heroes a mistake for NCsoft?
Yes, it was, though the closure itself may not be the actual mistake. I'll buy that NCsoft are failing in the Western market so they're pulling away. They could not have done this any worse that would have made a lick of difference, but let's go with that - their Western games did poorly, so they're cutting their losses. Well, THAT is NCsoft's own mistake. Their Western games did poorly to the last one in large part because of gross mismanagement from NCsoft. This is where I get off saying they don't "get" the Western market - because they have consistently failed to make genuinely good games work, and have consistently failed to stand by their properties for any real length of time.
I can already hear you thinking "But City of Heroes lasted for eight years!" Yes, it did, but are you aware of the history of those eight years? TIME4BACKSTORY!
In 2004, City of Heroes launched to moderate success, scoring a high point of around 180 000 subscribers, who then began declining steadily over time, as happens to any MMO which isn't WoW. In 2005, Cryptic Studios released City of Villains, which received less than moderate success, and within a year the City of Heroes development team was slashed down to 15 people. And that wasn't Cryptic focusing on the then-Marvel MMO, it was NCsoft management who restricted Cryptic's budget and forced them into taking on work for Marvel. That's coming straight from ex-Cryptic employees. BackAlleyBrawler, I believe. Basically, NCsoft did an EA - they saw a game that wasn't pinching pennies and cut its legs from under it within six months. But at least they left the game in basically "maintenance mode" with developers finding any which way they could to add something to City of Heroes with as low a cost as possible.
Come 2007, Cryptic got screwed over by Marvel who pulled out of the MMO deal and left them holding their dicks with massive investments sunk into a game using a license they didn't have, so Jack Emmert "sold out" by selling City of Heroes to NCsoft and using the money to save his derelict company by releasing Champions Online himself without a publisher, which required reworking it fundamentally. We all rejoiced that City of Heroes was apparently getting the attention it deserved and that NCsoft really were the nice, visionary company they purported to be. After all, City of Heroes had proven to be a stable source of income in light of so many of their games having been shut down within spitting distance of Launch.
All of a sudden the developers had money, they had personnel, they could do all those crazy things we never thought were possible... And they were working under a publisher-mandated project for yet another expansion. That expansion was Going Rogue. As soon as it hit, people started getting laid off. BackAlleyBrawler, AKA Christopher Bruce, was said to have resigned to seek out newer ventures, yet his personal page (I think it was Twitter) had him say he was laid off. Typical. Castle, AKA Floyd Grubb, also ended his employment, and he did not have good things to say about the terms of his departure. Soon thereafter more layoffs hit and then we all felt like we were back to the dark days of 2005.
Not even a year after Going Rogue was launched, City of Heroes went F2P, giving out Going Rogue for free, prompting cries of "Why did I pay for a collector's edition?!?" and we all thought THAT was going to be the future, but that didn't turn out to be true. It seems like every few months I'd hear about layoffs of people at Paragon Studios. But hey, the studio people were happy with it. They were even taking on another, unannounced project that many believed it would be "CoH 2" (which it wasn't). Finally, the studio started handling its own marketing via social media. And then this...
To my eyes, NCsoft mismanaged City of Heroes. I have never, ever seen any marketing for the game anywhere that I've looked. Hell, I don't know of a single person I've met outside of the game who even knew it existed, and I'm being generous by only counting the people who play PC games at all. NCsoft provided no marketing, they provided poor international support and they kept yanking funding from Cryptic and then Paragon if earning so much as dropped.
There is room for MMOs on the Western Market, and one need look no further than Guild Wars 2 to see that. If you build them right, market them right and stick with them, they can be successful. NCsoft failed on the Western market, and they failed big. And it's all their own fault. They care about the so-called "Korean grindfest MMOs." Which is fine, there's an audience for those kinds of games. But that is not the Western audience. You can't do business in the West as you do in the East just because our cultures and preferences in entertainment are different. But the sad truth is that Western developers are being managed by an Eastern publisher, so even though the actual developers are well capable of producing a competitive title, they end up being kneecapped by a developer with head up the ass.
I badmouth EA a lot, but at least EA would have had an idea about how to sell games in the US and in Europe. They sell so much mediocre shit that they've become exceptionally good at it, yet NCsoft have never been good at selling anything at all. They make a game, and they hope you know about it and buy it. Guild Wars 2's success owes more to the original Guild Wars and ArenaNet's own publicity and developer walkthroughs than it does to NCsoft. And guess what - they're already seeing developer layoffs, too. Because NCsoft is moving away from the Western market, so even the future of something as currently popular as Guild Wars 2 is under question. After all, they got the large cash injection from purchases at release. Now money's only trickling in via RMT transactions. How long before Guild Wars 2 and its players are also seen as expendable?
I'm reminded of what EA did to Origin and the Ultima series, specifically Ultima 9. They bought Origin and set them to task developing a brand new game. Almost immediately, they reassigned the bulk of the development staff to work on Ultima Online because EA saw big bucks in MMOs, which left Ultima 9 to languish in development hell. A year later, the game's visuals were terribly outdated since people were now using 3D accelerators, so Ultimata 9 had to be started from scratch. The project dragged on for another year, with many developers leaving citing terrible mismanagement. Development was restarted again, this time with a hard deadline from EA, forcing the development team to basically take a hatched to the game and cut it down to something that at least worked. And that's AFTER EA's deadlines made Ultimate 8: Pagan into a broken, buggy, unfinished mess of a terrible and underwhelming game that had nothing on even its direct predecessors.
That, my friends, is publisher mismanagement. And if NCsoft failed in the West with game after game after fucking game (Auto Assault, Tabula Rasa, City of Heroes) then I blame them for not knowing their heads from their asses. They had their shot, and they squandered it. City of Heroes survived 8 years of publisher shenanigans, but even that wasn't going to last. So, yeah, NCsoft are retreating from the West. Yeah, it's a smart business decision, with which to cover their asses after a series of un-smart business decisions got them to the point of abandoning basically the entire rest of the world which isn't Korea and China.
NCsoft screwed up. They screwed up big and they screwed up repeatedly. And now we're paying for their mistakes. It's not JUST City of Heroes that makes me not care for NCsoft. It's simply that this removes my last reason to look the other way.
Well, there's a funny development with NCsoft. It appears that they're selling their entire Western subsidiary... To themselves, under a new subsidiary that's basically the same thing. At least that's what I got out of it. I'm not well versed in corporate practices, so I suggest someone smarter than me have a look at the Titan Network forum thread. It sounds like they're doing something but it looks like they're doing nothing short of changing names.
Crucially, it doesn't look like this means anything for us, if all we wanted out of NCsoft was City of Heroes.
Broken link fixed by Pax
*edit*Huh?!? Well, now I just feel sheepish Thank you, Pax.
Also, speaking of things we know, here's an interview with Matt Miller and Melissa Bianco. It's an interesting read just to get a glimpse into the developers' minds, but it also seems to suggest that Paragon Studios and City of Heroes were doing great financially. Whatever NCsoft's reasons for closing the studio and the game were, "failure" of the property doesn't seem to have been among them.