NCsoft announced today that it has acquired Cryptic Studios' intellectual property rights to massively multiplayer online games City of Heroes and City of Villains. NCsoft will continue supporting the two MMOGs at NorCal Studios, a newly formed studio in Google's stomping grounds, Mountain View, California.
According to NCsoft, players will not notice any immediate changes to the cities they work to defend (or corrupt, depending on the game). The publisher noted that many of the minds working on the games will transition to the new studio, including lead designer Matt Miller, lead engineer Aaron Brady, and lead artist Ken Morse.
In a post to NCsoft's Web site, City of Heroes executive producer and NCsoft NorCal Studio GM Brian Clayton also indicated that NCsoft has plans to continue evolving the MMOG franchise. "We're building this new studio not just to maintain the status quo," he said. "We're looking beyond the normal slate of free issues for City of Heroes. We want to use City of Heroes as a focal point and really build on this franchise."
As for Cryptic, the development house stated that the primary impetus behind the move was to "free up resources for our future projects." While Cryptic didn't name names, one of those properties is undoubtedly Marvel Universe Online, a similarly superhero-themed MMOG in development for the Xbox 360 and Windows Vista and being published by Microsoft Games Studios.
NCsoft's NorCal Studio is the second development house the South Korea-based publisher has set up in the US in recent months. In October, NCsoft formally unveiled Carbine Studios, an MMOG developer based in Orange County, California. Carbine Studios boasts several former World of Warcraft developers, as well as Turbine Inc. cofounder Jeremy Gaffney and Tim Cain--lead designer of the original Fallout and cofounder of Troika Games.