In November 2012, the official servers of the MMORPG City of Heroes were closed for good, and the game was kept on life-support from community-run servers. After just over 11 years, City of Heroes is set to officially return, after the developer NCSoft granted an official license to the largest fan server that is currently active.
In a post on Homecoming's forums, a spokesperson for the Homecoming City of Heroes server revealed the news of their agreement with NCSoft, marking the official return of City of Heroes. Within their announcement, the Homecoming spokesperson also assured players that the licensing wouldn't change how the Homecoming project is funded and that the server would remain free-to-play for the foreseeable future.
Currently, Homecoming is run off the back of user donations, so the news that no initial fees or subscription model will be coming to City of Heroes has been welcomed by existing players. Additionally, the spokesperson confirmed that players' existing accounts and characters would be entirely unaffected by the developments.
Also in the forum, the Homecoming community member confirmed that NCSoft still owns the intellectual property that is City of Heroes, but Homecoming has permission to keep running the server and continue to "develop the game [...] subject to conditions and limitations under the contract". In time, this will also likely mean new content updates will be released for City of Heroes, although it sounds like NCSoft will be keeping a close eye on the decision-making of the Homecoming group.
Additionally, the Homecoming team member also confirmed that NCSoft does still hold the right to demand that Homecoming cease operations should they wish to. Therefore, the future of City of Heroes may not be too much more concrete than before, as fan servers such as Homecoming have always been reliant on NCSoft not kicking up a fuss to continue their work.
For now however, the future of City of Heroes looks cautiously optimistic. The Homecoming team clearly has plenty of ideas for City of Heroes going forward, and hopefully with NCSoft's backing their plans come to fruition.