City of Heroes Producer Discusses Freedom Switch

Following yesterday's announcement that City of Heroes will soon be adopting a free-to-play hybrid model, Nate "Second Measure" Birkholz has written a producer's letter that explains the team's logic behind the switch. In fact, this is the letter he's been "looking forward to the most" since he started writing them back in February.

Throughout the letter, Birkholz emphasizes that Paragon Studios is dedicated to the City of Heroes community. "We want to deliver more content, new features, and even better rewards for your loyalty, and yes, to bring in more people to play your favorite super-powered MMO," he said.

For the past year, they've divided into strike teams to generate content and adapt the game for the launch of City of Heroes Freedom. Birkholz believes Issue 21: Convergence is going to be their "best issue ever," and the all-new tutorial will introduce new players to the game like never before.

Birkholz covers a lot of ground in his letter, so be sure to check it out after the jump.

June Producer's Letter

From the beginning, our primary goal has always been to add more value for our subscribers. All of you who have been playing our game for any part of the past seven years are the cornerstone of our success, and we have always wanted to devote our resources to ensuring that you were not just treated well, but treated like VIPs. City of Heroes Freedom will indeed draw loads of new players in and give everyone alternate ways to experience the game, but we know that the relationship we have with our loyal community is the most important aspect of our game. We want new and experienced players alike to immediately see how much value there is in a VIP subscription to City of Heroes Freedom. We want to deliver more content, new features, and even better rewards for your loyalty, and yes, to bring in more people to play your favorite super-powered MMO.

We've spent nearly a year adapting our game to make City of Heroes Freedom a compelling and rewarding experience for new players and veterans alike. To make that happen, we had to first adapt the way we develop the game and the way we work as a team. We divided up into strike teams -- smaller teams within the bigger City of Heroes team -- each focused on a different area of the game. We needed to make new issues and support the live environment, develop new ways to reward our veteran players' loyalty, make a great early gameplay experience to engage new players and give new life to the lower level content, develop new ways to deliver content to you in the game, and we also needed people to provide great support to the rest of the strike teams. People took on new responsibilities, some moving into strike team leadership roles, others taking on new challenges. And we started to develop features and content sometimes months before it was supposed to be released, always with an eye to making great content efficiently. At one point we were simultaneously working on Issues 19, 20, and 21 and supporting Issue 18.

The last year has been a combination of hard work and rewarding experiences. Going Rogue set the stage for us by bringing a fantastic team together and giving us tools and systems for developing great new content more quickly and making the game look better than ever before. Since then, the strike teams have released two great issues (as well as mid-issue updates), but more importantly have developed a ton of compelling content for Issue 21 and the future. And the best part has been how excited everyone here at Paragon Studios has been about how much value we can add to City of Heroes Freedom. We are committed to this model of development and delivering content to new and longtime friends alike. We will continue to deliver great free issues for our subscribers and lots of other content besides, and we're working hard to ensure that we continue do this sustainably and reliably for the future.

Of course, we wanted to be sure we released a great issue with City of Heroes Freedom, and I believe Issue 21: Convergence is going to be our best issue ever. An all-new tutorial will introduce new players to Paragon City and the Rogue Isles like never before, and lets heroes and villains choose their archetype independently of their alignment. Atlas Park gets a tremendous visual makeover, and both Atlas Park and Mercy Island have all new mission content to give great reasons to create a character for veteran and new players alike. In addition, a new low level Sewers Trial for both heroes and villains lets you team up with other starting characters to take the fight below street level. First Ward is a visually stunning new zone that blends Primal Earth into Praetoria, tells the story of what happened to Magic under Cole's regime, and builds the Praetorian storyline towards its conclusion with some of our favorite missions ever. The Underground Incarnate Trial is the best endgame event yet. And it doesn't end there: there are new costumes, new powers, new characters, new villains, and a whole lot more.

As I noted in my first producer's letter this year, we are more dedicated than ever before to our amazing community. In fact, this is why we started the producer's letters, and this is the letter I have been looking forward to the most. We've got more people working to ensure not just that we add greater and greater value to your subscription, but also more people working to ensure we remain in constant communication. We remain committed to reaching out in game, on the forums, and via UStream, Facebook, Twitter, and whatever is next. We are adding new features in game and new processes on the team to ensure we can continue to support a great community and a make great game for you to play. In fact, we recently brought in some players to present City of Heroes Freedom in-person, and they gave us a lot of key feedback that has helped us ensure that we're meeting our goal of providing the best value for our players.

City of Heroes Freedom will help us build into an even stronger future, ensuring we can continue to innovate and grow for years to come. I am thrilled to lead a project that I so strongly believe in, and even more thrilled to work with a team that is dedicated to the project and dedicated to the future of City of Heroes. As a team, we're not just always up for something new, we're excited by a challenge, and we knew that adapting the game to fully embrace this opportunity was definitely going to be an exciting challenge. On behalf of everyone at Paragon Studios, we sincerely thank you for the time you have spent with us so far, and we remain, as always, devoted to giving you reasons to keep playing for many years to come. We look forward to hearing more from you all as we continue to release more information on this exciting time for us.


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