City of Heroes (CoH) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game based on the superhero comic book genre, developed by Cryptic Studios and published by NCsoft. The game was launched in North America on April 27, 2004 and in Europe (by NCsoft Europe) on February 4, 2005 with English, German and French language servers. Twenty-three free major updates for City of Heroes have been released since its launch. The newest update, "Where Shadows Lie", was released on May 31, 2012. On August 31, 2012, NCsoft terminated its Paragon Studios development team, ending all production on CoH with a planned end of services on November 30, 2012.
In the game, players create super-powered player characters that can team up with others to complete missions and fight criminals belonging to various gangs and organizations in the fictional Paragon City.
On October 31, 2005, the game's first sequel, City of Villains (CoV), was launched, allowing players to play as supervillains. Initially dubbed as an "Expanshalone" by the developers (a portmanteau of an expansion pack and stand-alone), the game did not require CoH to run, but if the user had both games, content was added to the CoH side of game play. On July 16, 2008, NCsoft merged the two games' content together, thus a player who only owned City of Heroes could now play City of Villains, and vice versa. Prior to this, a purchase was required to access either game's content, but they were linked by one account and subscription fee.
On November 6, 2007, NCsoft announced their purchase of the CoH/CoV intellectual property and transitioned the staff from Cryptic Studios to a new location in Mountain View, CA to continue development of the game. The new studio on April 14, 2009, became Paragon Studios, which shares credit with Cryptic Studios for the development work. This then led to City of Heroes becoming available for download on Steam, along with other NCsoft titles, on April 22, 2009.
On October 30, 2008, NCsoft announced a partnership with Transgaming Technologies in order to bring both City of Heroes and City of Villains and all 13 expansions to Mac OS X.
The expansion City of Heroes: Going Rogue's future release was announced on May 11, 2009. The game centers on the alternate reality of Praetoria and features a new alignment system allowing players characters to shift allegiances between Heroes and Villains, giving characters access to both the Paragon City of CoH and the Rogue Isles of CoV. Paragon Studios describes this as "[exploring] the shades of gray that lay between Heroes and Villains". Going Rogue was released on August 17, 2010, with pre-purchasers able to play on August 16.
On June 20, 2011, Paragon Studios announced that they were going to switch to a hybrid subscription model called City of Heroes: Freedom, adding in a free gameplay model, as well as special models for former subscribers termed Premium Players, and current subscribers become VIP players, who will gain access to all of the content in the various upcoming game updates.
On August 31, 2012, Paragon Studios announced that it was being shut down, and City of Heroes would cease all billing immediately and begin the process of shutting down the service. November 30th, 2012, has been listed as the official shutdown date of the game.