The popular MMORPG City of Heroes, which was shut down by developer NCsoft in 2012, has been given new life. Beloved by its players, the game has stayed alive via fans running private unofficial servers to keep the game going. One of the largest servers was the Homecoming server. After years of uncertainty regarding the legality of these private servers, NCsoft has officially granted Homecoming a license, allowing it to continue operating legally with NCsoft’s blessing.

The Homecoming server was constructed utilizing the original City of Heroes game code, which was discovered in 2019. The server restored all of the game’s original massively multiplayer online content and additionally implemented new class features, systems, and quality-of-life upgrades. Homecoming has financed its operations entirely through player donations – accessing the server is free. However, there was always uncertainty regarding whether NCsoft would exercise its legal rights and force Homecoming to shut down. Players waited anxiously to see if the corporation would bring an end to their passion project.

You can still go register and play City of Heroes.

This means Homecoming server operators and players no longer have to worry about potential shutdowns or legal issues, or losing their characters forever. It also opens the door for Homecoming to do things like integrate with NCsoft account systems to allow players to use their original City of Heroes accounts and characters from when the game was live.

Overall this license grant provides long-awaited stability and legitimacy to Homecoming, which has worked to preserve City of Heroes for years. It’s a big win for the passionate City of Heroes community. The Homecoming server is supported by player donations, and the monthly goals are usually met in days, if not hours.

An interesting side effect of this development is that it may impede other private servers from obtaining an official licence, which are “out of scope” according to the devs. It’s unclear whether the licence being granted is the issue, or if it’s just a matter of Homecoming’s getting special privileges by NCSoft for good behaviour. The announcement goes on to state: “Our hope is that our licence will help us consolidate our user base with City of Heroes fans from other servers.” That statement sounds like they think Homecoming is where all those other players are going to end up, thanks to the license, and they may be right. Other servers that do not enjoy the protection of the license are still potentially at risk, and are technically still in a gray area in terms of the legality of their operation.

Homecoming is still moving forward with their plans to become a nonprofit organization, but this new licensing arrangement has changed their legal structure somewhat, and they now have to go back and work out exactly how it will impact their efforts moving forward before they can proceed.


SCIFI Radio Staff
SCIFI Radio Staff is listener supported sci-fi geek culture radio, and operates almost exclusively via the generous contributions of our fans via our Patreon campaign. If you like, you can also use our tip jar and send us a little something to help support the many fine creatives that make this station possible.