I ask this question because it seems like nobody else in the industry is going to ask it. Why is Cryptic Studios making Champions Online? It baffles me that they would even think about persuing another game in this direction. Don’t get me wrong, I liked City of Heroes and all that, and I fully believe in Cryptic’s ability to make awesome MMORPGs based on superheroes, but it just seems so odd. Allow me to start from the beginning.
A few months ago, Cryptic and NCSoft agreed on a deal to transfer ownership of City of Heroes/Villains over to NCSoft. Before this, the game was published by NCSoft, and was owned by Cryptic. Cryptic then announced that they had been working on a new MMORPG, one that was not yet announced. Of course, everybody, at that time, knew that Cryptic had entered into a deal with Marvel and Microsoft to create a new super heroes MMO based off the Marvel comics entitled: Marvel Universe. It was naturally assumed that this was the “unnamed” project that Cryptic would be working on (MMOCrunch.com was no different). As it turns out, however, Marvel Universe got the axe by Microsoft and the title slipped into oblivion. Of course a few days after we all heard about the Marvel Universe news, we also heard about Champions Online.
Now back to my original question. Why Champions Online? Why would Cryptic, who already had a good relationship running a successful MMORPG for NCSoft suddenly sell their old property to them to begin work on a new IP based roughly around the same idea? City of Heroes was a success, and still is (130,000 subs and counting). Perhaps it was because NCSoft refused to allow Cryptic to make a City of Heroes sequel. Let’s face it, most of the time, MMORPGs do not need/warrant a sequel. They usually aren’t profitable and players from the first game don’t want to lose everything they achieved to begin work on a new one for the sequel. So, is that it? Was Champions Online birthed simply because of NCSoft’s refusal to support a sequel? Perhaps Champions Online was actually City of Heroes 2, but upon rejection of the idea late last year by NCSoft they decided to continue to persue it under a different name. We’ll probably never really know. . .
Of course, a lot of my article here is speculations and conjecture. I don’t know why exactly we have what we have today. However, it still seems a bit odd to me that Cryptic would want to sell City of Heroes and then go out and start a new MMORPG that would put itself in direct competition with their old IP. Something must have happened that caused the split between the two. But if not my theory then what else could have happened?