“When good cross-promotions go bad” could be the title of the latest NCSoft snafu. The company recently announced that the Statesman, the leading NPC hero from City of Heroes, would be a playable character in its upcoming MOBA, Master X Master. NCSoft likely expected the move to spark nostalgia among the CoH faithful, inspiring them to give MXM a go when it became available. But given the contentious nature of City of Heroes’ shuttering, the result has been anything but inspiring.
One needs only to look at the comments on various articles from around the internet announcing Statesman’s addition to MXM:
Ouch. It’s pretty easy to say, that isn’t the response NCSoft was hoping for.
All this negativity stems from the perception of how City of Heroes was handled by NCSoft. When the game was shut down nearly five years ago, fans implored NCSoft to sell the IP to another company, or even release the code to the public, so the game could still be enjoyed by its passionate fans. Unlike, say, Star Wars: Galaxies, NCSoft wholly owned the IP and could have done with it whatever it pleased.
“Whatever it pleased” appeared to be absolutely nothing. Until Tuesday.
As much as it hurt long-time players at the time, the wound inflicted by City of Heroes’ shuttering had mostly closed up. There was still the occasional grumbling directed toward NCSoft, but for the most part it was down to a dull roar. But the Statesman announcement brought everything back to the forefront and seemed to many like a case of NCSoft milking a dead game — killed by the company itself — to try and prop up its new thing. The “new thing” being yet another MOBA probably doesn’t help matters.
Granted, I’ve seen plenty of responses that aren’t as harsh, but all in the “meh” category, or sympathetic toward angry ex-CoHers. I’ve yet to see anyone be outright positive about the news, in the vein of “I loved City of Heroes! I can’t wait to play Statesman in MXM!” It’s also reasonable to assume that people who loved City of Heroes and who hate NCSoft with a passion weren’t going to play Master X Master anyway. I know I wasn’t, and I don’t even hate NCSoft or have an all-consuming desire to play City of Heroes again.
Still, for all the negativity it’s created, NCSoft should probably have let City of Heroes stay dead. Better that than giving players this half-hearted homage in a game most of them probably will never be interested in anyway. Maybe there are a few folks out there who see Statesman and want to take him for a spin in MXM. But at least from this vantage point, his addition is causing more harm than good.