CoV was released as an "expanshalone" release, or an expansion that did not require the original City of Heroes purchase to work (i.e. stand-alone). It offered five new character archetypes that were, at the time, exclusive to Villain characters, new maps, and began the first PvP Zones (versus the Arena, which were instanced maps made for PvP fighting) of the game. City of Villains also was playable with the same subscription fee that paid for City of Heroes access after buying City of Villains. The retail box included four CD-ROMs for installation current to Issue 6, one of four limited edition HeroClix figures of the game's villains, a poster of a map of the Rogue Isles, and a serial code that gave access to the game and one month of game play.
Since 2008, after the NCSoft acquisition of the intellectual properties, owning either City of Heroes or City of Villains unlocked both titles at no additional cost.