Friday, June 23, 2006

NCSoft Support Staff downsized

It seems as if the subscription numbers of City of Heroes has fallen to a point where NCSoft started to cut back on support staff in Austin, TX. A official post has put the number to about 70 people being cut from the 300 person workforce for City of Heroes. Most of these probably game masters and forum managers.

COH was a really great experience for me and kept me greatly entertained between the Everquest: Omens of War fiasco and the release of World of Warcraft. It seems as if a lot of other people also used it for a stepping stone between the two events. City of Heroes grew from 100k subscriptions to almost 200k before the release of WoW. Then it fell down to a around 150k until the release of City of Villians which jumped it around to previous 200k numbers. You can clearly see that most people renewed their accounts to try the new companion game. Now due to several reasons the game has fallen to their lowest post-WoW numbers yet.

City of Heroes broke the mold in avatar creation. They offered so many options and customizations that most players could create very unique characters. Even if most people simply copied the look of their favorite comic book hero. However, the same uniqueness that made everyone's avatar so interesting was missing in any of the instances in the game. City of Heroes randomly generated instances for missions by using an AI to make selections from several thousand dungeon options. Thus each dungeon was never quite the same but you would often spot similarities from previous ones. By the time a player was mid-level he felt like he was visiting alternative realities instead of new instances. Add in the fact that there was no real "loot" or equipment for heroes and you could understand why people would shortly get bored with the game.

The game still has some saving graces and some very unique ideas. PvP zones automatically make everyone the same level to try to cut down on ganking. Leveling with a friend is easy since he can sidekick you up to his level for a mission. Guilds and LFG functions are very well designed and are way better then anything implemented in World of Warcraft. Most likely City of Heroes will be here for awhile yet and I expect it to hang onto at least 90k subscriptions for the next 2 years. Add in another expansion or some more loot options and who knows how much they might come back.

City of Heroes Post on the Downsizing

F13 Info on the Downsize