This is true, we always knew that the game would shut down at some point. However...
The MMO genre of game is especially conducive to getting people to invest enormous amounts of time, effort, and money into the product. The average City of Heroes launch day veteran has probably spend between $1,500 and $2,000 on this game, many much more. And many have spent thousands of hours playing--not just mashing buttons, but coming up with creative stories, even contributing to user-generated content areas such as the Mission Architect system that allowed players to create their own custom enemies, contacts, mission objectives, dialog, etc. In other words, what NCsoft doesn't realize is that at this point, we have just as much stake in the game as they do (some would argue more), yet they hold the ultimate authority to unilaterally declare, "Okay, game over, we're going to destroy years of your effort and a large monetary investment." Not because the game wasn't making money--it was--but because they're undergoing a corporate "realignment".
Not only that, but in the process, they laid off over 80 employees at Paragon Studios, the Mountain View, California development studio that built and maintained City of Heroes. Before the shutdown announcement, a group of employees and investors tried to acquire the IP from NCsoft to keep the game running, but NCsoft wouldn't sell it. After the shutdown announcement, thanks to the SaveCoH movement, another attempt was made, but again, NCsoft wouldn't play ball, even releasing a statement that they had "exhausted all options" in trying to sell the game. Excuse me? Exhausted all options? They hold the IP. Now that the shutdown has come and gone and the community has largely dispersed, practically speaking, it's worth zero. It's impossible for them to have "exausted all options" unless and until the ink is dried on the page transferring the game and its IP to another company or organization that can run it.
Not only that, but this isn't the first time that NCsoft has done this. This is the fifth game in as many years. Auto Assault. Exteel. Dungeon Runners. Tabula Rasa. Now City of Heroes. Clearly to me, the company is an MMO killer. The players of City of Heroes aren't the first group of people to have their hard work and investment destroyed, and apparently, NCsoft doesn't really care very much that it's systematically destroying communities and the output of people's creative expression. As a gamer, why the hell would I ever want to buy a game like Guild Wars 2 or any of NCsoft's other games? Answer: I wouldn't, and they won't be seeing any money from me again.
So does NCsoft have the legal right to shut down City of Heroes, lay off everyone at Paragon Studios, and carry on as if nothing happened even though the company's own investor relations statements indicate that the game was steadily profitable and it had the overwhelming support of its development staff and management? Sure, no one is disputing that. However, I do firmly believe that NCsoft, and MMO game companies in particular, have an ethical obligation to do everything they can to plan for a game's sunset ahead of time and be willing to release the game property to another company or third-party organization willing to take over running it if one is willing to (which, in this case, there were multiple parties interested in doing so). To not do so shows an immense amount of disrespect for your customers, and you run the risk of generating the negative publicity and outcry such as the one NCsoft is facing right now.