Monday, September 3, 2012

Off Topic: R.I.P. Paragon Studios

Sorry for no post today, but I wanted to bring attention to this.

Late last week Paragon Studios received word from NCSoft (their parent company) that they were to cease all development work on the game, close all the market/subscription services, and shut down effective immediately with the game to come down before the end of the year (approximately end of November.) This came as a shock to everyone, especially the fans.And why wouldn't it? Just about six hours before word came down the the most popular Super Hero MMO out there was going to be shutting down teasers were released for the newest content that was to be released sometime within the next 30 days (it was already in Open Beta.)

To be clear, this is not a game getting a sunset. The story, which has been in development for 7-8 years now, is not getting an ending. The studio is not moving on. Everything is being shut down and packed away as suddenly as it sounds.

I wish I knew why. All signs point to CoH having been a profitable game with a stable population. The servers were more populated than ever since the game went free to play, and the game even won awards recently for how well its free to play and microtransaction models had been set up. There is no visible reason for why a company would shut down Paragon Studios aside from not liking money (if you have one, let me know, please.)

NCSoft's official reason so far is that they wish to go in a different direction with the games they support/put out there. A friend's theory - which I don't agree with - is that with Aion having done so poorly that they're shutting down CoH in the hopes people will go to Guild Wars 2 which just released. Only that doesn't make much sense to me as MMO players are notoriously spiteful, and people who are dedicated followers to an 8 year old game likely don't have a copmuter capable of handling a brand new game, and if they did they likely already had a copy.

Whatever the reason, I know that one of the big inspiration points I had for Super Hero stories and a place where I could test out ideas is now gone. So, today I wanted to give an R.I.P. to Paragon Studios and hope that the developers find new homes soon. They honestly were the best development team I've ever seen. Especially when it came to community involvement.


  1. Odds are the game failed to reach the profit targets that NCSoft wanted. The whole "we're going in a different direction" is just market-speak for that they are going to go with another product that will do better than CoH. While a lot of players may think that CoH is making oodles of money, it has to meet the minimum rate of return in order for the product / line to be viable. A product that gives you a 10% return above overhead is good while a product that gives you 1% is terrible, even if that 1% is measured in millions. The reason why is that your overhead costs can fluctuate dramatically to turn that 1% into a terrible loss. Also, if you can take your money and invest it into something that will safely generate a return of 1% (like T-bills), then why spend millions on overhead and development?

  2. This could be the case, but with an 8 year old MMO there are warning signs for that. Servers not being regularly in the "moderately full" category for one, server mergers for another. Content slowing down in being released.

    While it is possible that CoH wasn't making as much money as NCSoft wanted, that still doesn't explain the sudden shift from "We're ready to release all this awesome content for you guys!" (which is something that will generate money to offset costs at least a little bit) to "We're shut down."

    Whatever the financials behind it, if CoH was at a loss of profits, or not good profits, there were no warning signs for it and if anything it was on a popularity upswing judging from how populated the servers were. The shut down is just weird and oddly handled whatever the means.

  3. Unfortunately, that's endemic in a lot of industries. Radio stations suddenly change formats with no warning, your boss says, "There's no layoffs, there's no layoffs, there's layoffs." and so on.

    Also, it may have been true about the content. Paragon Studios was probably working on new content while NCSoft was looking at the numbers. Paragon Studios may have had a projected date to release the content, but NCSoft decided to pull the plug before it came to pass. I personally have been involved in business projects that have costed us tens of millions of dollars in development only for them to never see the light of day. Not efficient, but happens from time to time. Sometimes it's politics, othertimes, it's just economic.