After 5 years, NCSoft officially grants a licence to popular City of Heroes private server Homecoming: 'Your accounts and characters are safe'

City of Heroes art
(Image credit: NCSOFT)

If you were like me, the shutdown of the GOAT superhero MMORPG City of Heroes broke your heart into itty-bitty pieces—it also probably made you happy to see people playing it again when it was revealed that the game code had been salvaged in 2019. 

Homecoming—alongside a bunch of other servers—promised a return to the good ol' days. I personally had a great time for a couple of years, diving deep into its still-active roleplay community, I even made friends who're still playing it. Still, there's always this looming, Nostralius-style dread that comes with playing on a private server. When will the corpos muscle in and shut down the party?

Turns out: not for a long time. Homecoming has just been given the official nod by NCSoft, as announced by the server today. An announcement reads: "We’d like to make a few things clear: Your accounts and characters are safe. Development of new content will continue. Homecoming will continue to be completely free. We will continue to be funded entirely through donations."

Meanwhile, the full announcement and FAQ goes into further detail. "Homecoming has been granted a licence to operate a City of Heroes™ server and further develop the game—subject to conditions and limitations under the contract." The developers expect required funding to increase, but—speaking from personal experience—the monthly donation goals that keep the server running are filled in days, if not hours. People really love this game. 

This does mean that the game is still subject to shutdown, but NCSoft was technically in their rights to call curtains beforehand anyway. Surprisingly, it seems that was never that likely to begin with: "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."

An image of a pumpkin-headed hero from City of Heroes' private server, Homecoming.

(Image credit: NCSoft / Homecoming)

One interesting consequence is that this 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 papa 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."

At present, the atmosphere in the discord server is electric—"Holy shits" in bulk, and it's easy to see why. The sudden shutdown of City of Heroes is a scar that still lingers in the minds of its players, with fleets of players holding in-game protests and petitioning NCSoft en masse to no avail.

While the return of private servers was a victory, it felt almost pyrrhic, living under the boot of the gods that struck down the game in the first place. Said boot could still legally smush the anthill, but to hear that Homecoming's had a good enough working relationship with the company to gain an official licence is a huge relief.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.