COHO a casualty of bad business model

It's over, dawg, over!

It's all going down, down, down.

It’s official. Company of Heroes Online, popularly known as “COHO,” is dead and all servers will cease operating on March 31, 2011. Sadly, all your Commanders, items, records, ranks and so forth shall disappear into the void.

For some reason, the imminent sweeping away of Hosni Mubarak before a tidal wave of wrath from the Egyptian street seemed appropriate to me as supporting imagery (left). I guess it’s time to overhaul the Rifles Ready! banner yet again.

Actual money spent on COHO cash, which were the real meat on the bones of this free-to-play experiment, will usable until March 31. One hopes they will make all the overpowered items and units available now for purchase, to console folks who actually spent real cash on COHO cash.

Don’t kid yourself — COHO really is dead, despite corporate Relic puffery in the form of noises such as “After an exciting period of operating and testing, we will be closing the Open Beta on March 31, 2011 to evaluate the next steps for the Company of Heroes series.” Translation: This shit didn’t make us any fracking money.

Who didn’t see this coming? The free-to-play model is a simple one, built on microtransactions, where gamers would pay tiny amounts of money for non-tangible products that enhance the free experience. Ask yourself, honestly, if you were ever seriously tempted to spend a dime on your COHO experience. The complete rant, plus an update on the future of this blog, may be found below the fold.

Purple and red items drop, after all, however rarely. Supply to refill all your units and items could be had easily from comp-stomp games, custom games with friends, or just just plain lots of competitive play.

Whereas an MMO could offer lots of pay-only items that didn’t affect game balance — such as character skins, mounts, avatars and so forth — an RTS that aims to be competitive has far less room to maneuver.

They could’ve started doing custom skins, but RTS gamers are of a fundamentally different mindset. We’re not trained to invest in our armies the way an RPG player invests in his personal character, because each match represents a new army. Relic tried to get around this with Hero units, but once leveled they were basically no different from field-built units.

There is a silver lining. We do have to thank our lucky stars that Relic will roll all the bug fixes and relevant balance changes made in COHO’s lifetime into the vanilla game. In fact there has already been a separate patch for the vanilla game with Opposing Fronts and Tales of Valor. NOTE: There is a deal for a $5 copy of COH Gold, which includes the original game plus Opposing Fronts. Just log into your beta account to get the code, which must be redeemed from the THQ Online Store. If COHO was your first introduction this franchise, you should jump on it. Yawning old timers such as myself already have both games.

The future of this blog. As you’ve no doubt noticed, even after I brought Rifles Ready! back to life, I’ve had a hard time keeping it updated. The reasons for suspending it a year and a half ago haven’t gone away — work, landlord responsibilities and a social life. But I intend not to give up. While updates may not be weekly, I will keep plugging away here.

You can expect a lot of content in the future, once COHO dies and the final, cumulative patch for the vanilla game comes out:

  • Analysis of the state of the vanilla game, post-patch (and I mean all the patches)
  • Balance of the Opposing Fronts armies
  • Replay analysis in the form of occasional Battle Reports
  • Random, off-kilter posts like the one about the COH Booth Babe
  • A good time

I’m still going to be playing 2v2s with Surprise and posting his thoughts and tips and tricks — as COH continues to be the one RTS he clutches most tightly to his heart. So stay sharp, men, and pay us a visit from time to time.


8 Responses to COHO a casualty of bad business model

  1. infin says:

    Always enjoy your posts and I loved COHO but I never paid money for it, my friend did though. If they had made the units more expensive and the supply burn a little faster I am sure they would have made a stack of cash out of it. I was considering buying COHO cash to do a respec cos once you get to lev 42 its bloody expensive!

  2. That would help, but I think they needed more creative reasons to get people to spend money. Unit skins, alternate unit voices, maybe even unique units for a price, all while trying to maintain balance. They could’ve been braver and more ruthless.

  3. Phil says:

    Man, i just got COHO about a month ago after realizing i wasn’t going to bring myself to waiting a long time for all the patches to install for vCOH, and now this! I was really having a blast, some of my friends and me had already started planning our road to COHO glory.

    Somehow, i suspected it. It was a lousy attempt to score some extra cash on a game they had long forgotten, i just think it’s a real dick move to entice alot of players and then force them to go back to vCOH to continue. I really hope they nerf Lt. stacking and Roos…

  4. hey says:

    will you keep posting about vCOH?

  5. PurppleHelmet says:

    I’ve played all the COH games and was getting pretty tired of it all, but COHO was awesome game play. Everything about the game is way better than the retail versions. It is a shame that the game has to go away…hell I’d pay for COHO in a retail format. The customization of your troops and vehicles really makes you feel like you have a little more control over your game play even if it is only a physiological edge.

  6. Outside of the city: if the administration center of the county be dominated by the state, gamers can colonize the outside of the city and develop their own fields and construct their buildings, also can recruit soldiers and organize troops in the city.

  7. kc724 says:

    man, i hope cork comes back soon! I was so looking forward to 2.602…

  8. dave says:

    COHO was simply the best all round game i ever played.. and I have played many games over the last 17 years.

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