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City of Heroes is officially back from the dead

NCSOFT and Homecoming enter a licensing agreement
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Superhero MMO City of Heroes, which was first released in 2004 and shut down in 2012, is now officially back from the dead: IP owner NCSOFT has granted Homecoming, which runs one of the biggest private servers for the game, a license to not only continue operating this in an official capacity, but keep developing its own content.

“This agreement provides a framework under which Homecoming can operate the game in a way that complies with NCSOFT’s wishes in hopes of minimizing the chances of that happening. We’ve had a really positive and productive relationship with NCSOFT for over four years now, so we do not anticipate there being any issues,” Homecoming explained.

City of Heroes poster showing many different superheroes in front of a blue background.

City of Heroes has existed in the shadows for half a decade, now it's officially back.

Things will continue as normal for all users of Homecoming for now, the organization stated, which includes the free, donation-based model the server is running on.

“We don’t currently foresee any changes to our funding model, as Homecoming is not required to pay any up-front or recurring license fees. We continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity of the community when it comes to keeping the server online,” the organization stated.

Other private servers are still out of luck, but Homecoming has announced plans of inviting their administrators to a “City Council,” to possibly coordinate future cooperation and consolidation.

City of Heroes was extremely popular back in the day and even survived a lawsuit from Marvel, which alleged that the game was allowing players to create characters infringing the company’s copyright. However, NCSOFT surprisingly shut down the game ahead of the release of Guild Wars 2, which players took as a cynical attempt to push the community towards the new title.

In 2019, source code enabling people to run their own servers for the game was spread around, which led to several private servers popping up. Many of these servers contain content that has since been developed for the game outside of NCSOFT’s purview, which means that there are now many different versions of the game available. A possible purpose of the new City Council could be to try and unite the most popular of these in the now official version of the game.

In any case, it’s an exciting time for fans of the classic superhero MMO and a testament to their persistence over the years, which has paid off.