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City of Heroes is officially back, thanks to a license from NCSoft to a fan-run MMO server

city of heroes

In the early days of the massively multiplayer game genre, developer Cryptic Studios and publisher NCSOF launched City of Heroes in 2004, where players could create their own original superhero characters and battle evil forces.

The game was critically acclaimed and became very popular for a while. It launched a number of expansion packs over the years. In 2007, Cryptic transferred full ownership of City of Heroes to NCSOFT. The publisher kept the game going under its own in-house development team at Paragon Studios. However, the player numbers for the game started to go down. In 2012, NCSoft officially shut down the game's servers and closed Paragon Studios.

Even with the official shutdown, there were still many gamers who wanted to keep playing City of Heroes. In 2019, word got out that some people had run private City of Heroes game servers for many years via a leaked code base. The code made its way to other parts of the world which meant even more private servers for the game got up and running.

One of those servers was called City of Heroes: Homecoming. Today, the organizers of that server announced a surprise deal with NCSOFT that gives the fan server an official license to not only run City of Heroes but even develop new content for the game.

According to the server's FAQ post on this deal, "This agreement provides a framework under which Homecoming can operate the game in a way that complies with NCSOFT’s wishes." NCSOFT still owns City of Heroes under this new arrangement. The Homecoming team stated that it is "not required to pay any up-front or recurring license fees" to NCSOFT, although it will have to pay some "one-off legal costs for some updates to our consumer documentation."

The free-to-play Homecoming server will remain free under the terms of the agreement, and the development team will keep it going through fan donations. Hopefully, we will learn more about the Homecoming team's plans, including adding new content, in the coming months.

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