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.