City of Heroes going free-to-play route

NCSoft's superhero MMORPG relaunching as City of Heroes Freedom later this year.

In the past year alone, Lord of the Rings Online, EverQuest II, and Fallen Earth have announced plans to drop their subscription fee in favor of a free-to-play model. Even Half-Life creator Valve now stocks free-to-play games in its Steam storefront and is preparing a free-to-play game of its own. Today, another longstanding massively multiplayer online role-playing game announced it will also adopt the new business model.

City of Heroes goes free to play later this year.

City of Heroes--which launched some seven years ago--will be rereleased later this year under a new name and free-to-play business model. The game will go by the title of City of Heroes Freedom, and it will allow gamers to either play for free or pay a subscription fee and become a VIP member.

Free accounts will allow gamers to create up to two characters, choose from eight classes, and level their characters to a maximum status of level 50. Further, free accounts can take part in raids and venture to 45 zones. For the full side-by-side comparison of free versus VIP, check out the official City of Heroes Freedom page.

Inspired by comic books, City of Heroes lets players assume the role of a superhero and fight a variety of villains in the fictional metropolis of Paragon City. Players can customize their heroes with a variety of costumes and items and hundreds of different superpowers, skills, and abilities. They can then form alliances with other characters, create secret headquarters, and fight evil to become the top superhero squad in the city.

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

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61 comments
FireVixen
FireVixen

This is very exciting! I can't wait to be a VIP. They should really update this video. Most of the information is outdated.

RaiceGeriko
RaiceGeriko

I think this is a good move for CoH. Not because it wasn't successful as a P2P, but simply because it's just aging now. I played this game for about a year, and then off and on for another 2 years. It's truly one of the better MMO's ever made. It's great for the Role Players. It's great for the PvPers. It's great for Power Gamers. It's great for Min/Max Meta-Gamers. It's great for creative type folk. It's just simply the kind of game no one could really hate. Even if you didn't like some aspects of it - you couldn't just hate the game. And the fact that it was profitable for so long, even after WoW is a testament to that. City of Heroes is probably the number 1 MMO I've ever played, and I've played a lot of them.

sircyrus
sircyrus

Those of you treating this like a demise, Turbine has demonstrated it can actually be more profitable for a MMO to go "F2P" than subscription based. Especially when it held a smaller market share. Going F2P expands their playerbase and can wind up increasing profits. More and more MMO's are trying out alternative subscription systems.

JOKER677
JOKER677

Guess WoW is starting to take its toll on some of the other MMORPG games...

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

@chikahiro94 Yeah, I'm looking into it. Hopefully before this year is out I will get to build one. I am going to do my research rather than purchase a already built one, like Alienware, or Dell XPS, which I'm not sure if they even make those anymore. Can't wait, seeing as how I do all of my gaming on consoles, ie. PS3/360/Wii.

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

@godzillavskong Worth mentioning - I'm not sure if COH officially (or decently) supports SLI and Crossfire at this time, so that might make things easier on you. Right now I get good framerates at 1920x1200 with a C2D Q6600 quad @ 2.4ghz (stock) and a Radeon 5750 1g with 4g ram and Windows 7 64-bit. Not a monster by today's standards! It runs my games decently, but I'm not running really high end games, either. Your mileage may vary, but a good gaming PC coupled with good free-to-play titles, plus at least one good digital distribution service (Steam, Impulse, Direct2Drive, etc) with frequent sales means you can do a lot of great gaming affordable, in addition to having a great tool for home computing. Anything not on PC will likely be on a console, and those only get more affordable with time (was it Ubisoft that's expecting a price drop this year?), not to mention you'll have more games at more price ranges as time goes by (gotta love Greatest Hits/Platinum titles!).

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

@simon1812 The market seems to be moving to the hybrid/freemium model. It'll take a while before massive (or massively successful) titles go that route, but yeah, I think that's a reasonable assumption (especially given Ritecello's comments in the past). Five, ten years from now? Sure, why not? Even WOW will likely go that route in time, I think, and I'm sure Blizzard's next MMO will speed that process up.

simon1812
simon1812

you know after I read the article my first thought was "maybe SWtoR will do the same eventually!" am I alone on this one?

OJ_the_LION
OJ_the_LION

I rather dislike Champions Online, while City of Heroes held my attention for at least a little bit--of course, this may have been because I tried City of Villains while it was subscription based while I only did f2p Champions Online. Still, I'm looking forward to finally maxing out my villain at least.

Sirbobislost
Sirbobislost

Hmmm always fancied trying this out but never got around to it worth a look now it's free

Majkic666
Majkic666

@roams Because by reading that they wont get me and probably many others to play it, there are many Free MMOs that are much better

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

@chikahiro94 Yeah, both my desktops in the house have at least 2gb of ram, but one runs Vista, while the other runs XP, which I believe XP is less taxing on the hardware than Vista. The both have dual core processors, but their graphics cards are low end Nvidia integrated ones, so they aren't capable of cranking out much in the graphics dept.. I guess they are web browsing beasts!:) I'd like to invest in maybe a cpu with a Intel i7 processor, or i5 , then do some research on the graphics side. I also think ram speed is almost more important than the amount of ram. It won't be until the end of the year until I build one, but that will finalize my gaming needs for my gameroom, seeing as how I have all the consoles, just have to add the pc. Oh btw, I thought it was funny that you got thumbed down just for suggesting something!? Some people up here are just lost.

MAHBOY1191
MAHBOY1191

Meh... too bad that Champions Online is also free to play, has better visuals, better game play, more customization options, and takes up half of the memory that City of Heroes takes up...

SkamArtist
SkamArtist

Mannn....I haven't played CoH in years. I had a lvl 40 Blaster! I may need to check this F2P out.

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

@godzillavskong - COH likes CPU power for the basics. The ultra-mode goodies and extras want a good GPU. RAM is appreciated (1g is my recommended minimum, 2g is better). IMO the system requirements are a bit out of date (is, 512m ram, etc) but it will run on relatively modest hardware by modern standards.

Sgthombre
Sgthombre

Fantastic! I've always wanted to give this a shot, and now's my chance.

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

My son loves this game. Its too bad both of our home pcs arent capable of rendering it that well. They have Nvidia 6150LE intergrated cards, which make me think that the LE stands for low end. lol. I'll have to invest in a decent gaming rig here shortly. I am going to do some serious research and put together a unstoppable monster!

Zloth2
Zloth2

Wow, watching that opening day review was kinda fun! Needless to say, the game has advanced a ton since then.

gt350tsc
gt350tsc

You know I can see DC universe going the free to play route as well. I don't remember but Didn't they have store tab already in game it was just empty. Could of sworn I saw it in totalbiscuit beta play though. Might of been a beta thing though.

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

@TrueIori - fair enough, but since there's still a while until i21 hits maybe things will change (willing to bet on it). We'll see. Just so long as I don't see Google ads plastered all over the forum :P

gt350tsc
gt350tsc

Another one bites the duster and another one and another one bites the duster. I'm sorry couldn't help myself:) I look forward to giving a shot

ionusX
ionusX

i hated this game even if it was free id never play it again.. the visuals are poor the quests are repetitive grinds and the combat is so poor it made ff11 & EQ1 look "fast paced"

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

@TrueIori - CO doesn't have SG bases, shared SG storage, or craftable base items that can be gotten rid of. Maybe they will in the future (hopefully!). I know my friends who play WOW have horror stories about a guildie getting their account hacked then everything cleared out up to their authorization level (or just their characters). Certainly, vandelizing the base is possible too. Not ideal, I understand, but until a better solution is found, it is what it is, and the problem won't go away.

TrueIori
TrueIori

@chikahiro94 and lord of the rings has a F2p forum section, there problems solved, now f2p don't feel like second class citizens.

TrueIori
TrueIori

@chikahiro94 Easy after a certain time,lvl, w/e you get more chat privileges and able to join a Guild. I mean Really what a MMO without guilds? This is what Champs online does, and it work just fine, Only reason I stop playing was because the game just plain meh. Any who I Take any f2p,B2p,p2p, game over games that start p2p and make the transition to f2p, again have yet to see one make a decent transition.

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

@trueiori - truth be told, its one of those things that's always going to be "wrong" for one portion of players or another. If they didn't, I'd guarantee all the players I run with (and myself) would be hammering the boards "have you forgotten why those restrictions were put into place in the first place?!"

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

@TrueIori - spammers, griefers and thieves. COHs trial accounts were fantastic until the gold sellers came in. Its not perfect, but how else should it be handled? My inbox and whisper spam dropped dramatically after they clamped down. No broadcast spam, either. Blame the jerks responsible for making it a necessity in the first place. And if you've got a better solution to the RMT problem, please share it.

mrsniper83
mrsniper83

Awesome, might have to pick this up and see what its about.

TrueIori
TrueIori

@chikahiro94 and chat and not being able to join super Groups? How you explain those. Trust me all this is going to do is annoy people, I for one left Champs online with all the damn restrictions , but at least you where able to join a guild there. W/e I have not seen one decent p2p to f2p transition yet, and this one no different.

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

@TrueIori - Gamespot has its own COH forums, as do many other sites. There are FAQs and paragonwiki.com also. The problem is you've got spammers and trolls with nothing better to do, hence only premium and VIP players getting more communication options. And the more levelheaded folks on the officials will tell you; only a vast minority of players go to the official boards at all.

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

@triforceplayer - I hope not! As a COH player I've really benefitted from the mere existence of CO and DCUO. The competition has made COH a lot better over the years while the other games were still in development. There's more than enough players for all three games to grow and do well. Certainly, CO grew after going F2P, I'm sure COH will, and maybe one day DCUO will also. I've got friends in all three games, so i hope a year from now we're all still having fun in our game of choice :)

TrueIori
TrueIori

@roams By not adding chat and forums all you doing is encouraging people to not even try it in the first place, you encourage them to subscribe with blocking content not basic needs. So what if a f2p players need help? where are they to go to ?

Vlad_an_impaler
Vlad_an_impaler

Meh, Think I'll wait and try SWTOR, I lost interest after the closing of Dungeon Runners and NCSoft gave us only 1 month gametime for CoH. I had six months coming to me. =( I still play Guild Wars though. And I'll get GW2 as well.

The_Freeman
The_Freeman

With Champions Online, DC Universe Online, Vindictus and in the near future RaiderZ and Rusty Hearts, no one will even bother to try City of Heroes. I've played DCUO, Champions and COH, and COH loses like a motherf...er

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

Its not giving up - its recognizing the changing market and thus a growth opportunity. I can't count how many people I've seen say, "I would like to play a MMO but I'm not going to pay $15/mo to do so." So long as the money shop is fair (not gouging, not pay to win, full of convenience items, vanity items and some exclusive content-, it should be fine. I think they estimated around 80% of the game will be available for free players. Wonder how many years before WOW goes this route. It almost seems inevitable, but it could be five, ten or more...

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

You can thank spammers for the free-player restrictions; trial players have had them for a while, and Turbine (currently the best folks at taking p2p to f2p) does the same thing. As a six-year vet I'm quite excited after seeing how LOTRO and DDO turned out. Even CO is seeing improvement. We've already got some old players looking to come back when this happens :)

digitalheadbutt
digitalheadbutt

I don't see it as giving up, just adapting to the new environment. CoH was fun when it launched but I wouldn't pay for it again, and I am sure their server population is pretty low with games like Champions and DCU cannibalizing their player base. Not to mention all the other MMOs. Best to change to a potentially more profitable model in the hopes that it will squeeze out a bit more revenue. They use that F2P money to fund new games and maintain the ones that are still money makers. Besides, I think they got their money's worth out of CoH. I worry more about Cryptic since NCSoft cut them loose, nothing quite as good as CoH and that isn't saying a whole lot.

Warshock
Warshock

I'm glad that it has lasted this long. Love you COH/COV...

jdog8888888
jdog8888888

@jcopp72 there is a premium level for all past subscribers. It has no monthly dues, and you get everything you acquired previously. I would be interested in bringing back my level 40 blaster someday...

Bozanimal
Bozanimal

When I see an MMO go "F2P," I can't help but feel like the developer has thrown in the towel, and it makes me sad even when it's a game I don't like. Because let's face it, it's never free. You've got advertisements, restrictions, or pay-only content in-game that limits the experience.

Lash540
Lash540

This could have been a great idea but they made the same mistake that Champions Online made where the free players don't have access to all the powerset's thus not being able to make the character you want thus not being fun. Free to play should be where you can buy your power sets, and clothing and then just play the way you want and buy items or other power sets as you progress further or want something else.

TrueIori
TrueIori

meh I just rather wait for Guild Wars 2, I rather pay once and have everything at once , than have all these damn restrictions.

jcopp72
jcopp72

only 2 characters, what if i already have 20 some characters and want to play for free? do I pick 2 or what?

alexLmx6
alexLmx6

I never really got into CoH but this sounds pretty good either way.. I'm still a bit on the fence about F2P, I would rather just pay upfront and not have the game trying to sell me extra crap all the time. Just as an example, the guy in Dragon Age: Origins who would hang out at your camp and would give you this awesome sounding quest, then a window pops up telling you it's DLC.. That really pissed me off. I want to just be able to play the game without feeling like I'm missing out if I don't reach into my wallet.

Crypto145
Crypto145

Might have to check this out. Always wanted to, but I never thought it was worth paying for.

sircyrus
sircyrus

Cool, I had a blast with City of Heroes. I think they're going to heavily milk the ingame store though, with costume pieces and the like. Still, would be worth it since you really only need 1 or 2 costumes that you like.

WolfGrey
WolfGrey

No whispers? WTH? That earns retard idea of the week.With no forum posting, or joining super groups following close.