Publisher NCSoft has granted an official license to City of Heroes Homecoming, a fan-made private server that hosts the classic MMORPG. Players have been using the server for years with the looming threat over their heads, but can now rest easy with their favorite MMO.

It’s a surprising move, as fan-servers are technically illegal and most are swiftly shut down. But Homecoming has been in talks with NCSoft to acquire an official license since 2019. It took a long time, but the work has paid off, with the private server being granted an official license.

One important stipulation is that Homecoming remain completely free, and that the work behind it is non-profit, though the team does solicit donations to keep the servers running.

City of Heroes originally released in 2004 during the Golden Age of MMOs, with the likes of World of Warcraft, EverQuest 2, and Guild Wars. The superhero-themed online game was praised for its detailed character creator, letting players design the superhero of their dreams, and the ability to mix and match powersets and archetypes.

A major sequel, City of Villains, released a year later, and City of Heroes: Going Rogue in 2010, which allowed players to play as villains, then switch sides respectively.

The MMORPG was in active development with regular updates several times a year before its eventual shutdown in 2012. The game lived on in private servers, which exist in a legal gray area that essentially wait for the license-holder to make an official decision.

City of Heroes Homecoming includes all 24 updates over 8 years of active development, including the major expansions. It’s completely free forever, and you can download the launcher on the Homecoming website.

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Eric has been writing for over nine years with bylines at Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer, Tabletop Gaming magazine, and more covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games, and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on his YouTube channel. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.