What Would It Take #EQ2

A good question was asked to me yesterday in the comments of my ‘Goodbye EQ2’ post.

“Could you try to find it in your heart to figure out what it would require to get you BACK into EQ2? The reason for me asking is that I got that question from my wife, who still plays. I quit… months ago.”

What would it take for me to start playing again? Well. Some definite changes would have to take place. I’m not saying that all of these would have to happen, but enough so that my opinion of the game and those making the decisions changed.

1. Large and In Charge – I want to know beyond a doubt that the people working on the game and making the decisions actually care about whether or not the game is going to succeed or fail. That they are openly communicating with their player base, and taking players consideration into account. I want to know exactly how they are getting the idea that “most of” the player base wants or does not want a particular thing. I want to see constant progress and a real attempt at improvements. If those creating the game don’t care about it on a very personal level, why would anyone else.

2. Pricing – I don’t mind that EQ2 has a market but I’m not going to blow $25 on any one thing when I already pay a monthly fee and expansion fees. Entice players to spend more by offering lower prices. $55 to rename a guild? $65 for a Vampire Package? I understand that games may not be making what they should be profit wise, but high prices alienate your loyal consumers. If everything in the store was 1/3rd of the price it normally is on top of my subscription fee, I would be much happier.

3. Us vs. Them – The separation of the EQ2X servers and EQ2 servers has to go.

4. Not everything has to be a marketplace item – Almost every single announcement of anything going on in the last few months has revolved around the marketplace. The neatest looking gear, the coolest house items, they are all marketplace items. This point actually goes along with my first point. It doesn’t feel like anyone cares about the game any more they only care about creating things for the marketplace.

5. Learning from their mistakes – I want to see proof that when something goes wrong, or doesn’t work out the company LEARNS from this and improves upon it and makes it better. This one is a little harder to prove, I know. Lets take expansions for example. Lets look at world of warcraft (I know, bad example but it’s what I have to work with here). Personally I felt BC was a poor expansion. I didn’t enjoy the quests or the dungeons. Then came Wrath, which I loved even though there were things that could be improved upon. Then came Cataclysm which I loved even more. With each expansion I felt that Blizzard was actually learning from their mistakes of the previous expansion. I could see a clear line of “oh, this didn’t really work out too well, lets make it better”. I want that very badly for EQ2.

Those are my major issues. I don’t see any of them changing any time soon but I would LOVE to see it happen. I don’t hate EQ2. I don’t hate Sony. I feel sad and upset over where the game has gone direction wise but I don’t think that it’s anything more than the game just not being “for me” any more. I played it for 6 years and enjoyed it for countless hours. I have over 1,150 blog posts alone dedicated towards the game. I understand that times change, that games change, but there has got to be a balance of bringing in new money and players vs. losing all of your old ones. Veteran players are not supposed to be sacrificed for new changes.

18 Responses to What Would It Take #EQ2

  1. Akely says:

    Well written. It’s seems clear to me that you’ve lost interest in the game over time and that this is not a tantrum. Too bad, as tantrums pass. ;)

    1. Large and In Charge
    Personally I think communicating with the player base have started much of the problems that the game is in. And stopped good changes from happening (aggro-changes mechanic springs to mind). The reason is that there is a vocal minority. These are the “hard core” players, usually but not excluded to, raiders are primarily Achiever types of gamers. The squeaky wheels gets the grease, and all that. And for some (those who do voice their opinion) that is great. Me, I move on, as I do not want to spend my time trying to change other peoples mind.

    2. Pricing
    We’re not not even being nickled-and-dimed to death here. Not only is the prices outrageous, the stuff that is for sale should be in the game. I do not think you can blame the people paying for stuff for breaking the game. EQ2 is about earning SOE money, after all. Not blame, but I agree that their willingness to pay really helps in destroying the game in a sense.

    3. Us vs. Them
    The separation will go. When the servers are merged. I give it a year. I think the reason for there being separate servers is the simple fact that the EQ2 team emphatically said “there will never be F2P servers”. Then they probably got the order from SOE that they would have. What to do? Well, thats why there was that “that’s not exactly what I said” half-arsed explanation and the separate server solution. At least thats MY theory.

    4. Not everything has to be a marketplace item
    It will be, when and if they drop the subs. I mean… what the hell do the subs get you now? I dabbled a little on a Bronze account. You CAN play the game a little, but the limitations do get in your way. I’m fine with that. But now it seems the subbers also miss out on a lot of stuff. And if these subbers get upset they will probably rather leave than pay more. Just a hunch (proved by Star…).

    5. Learning from their mistakes
    This goes hand in hand with point number 1. IF you listen to players you’ll NOT hear the majority. You’ll hear those who want to be heard. Anyone who has been in charge of many people know this. The hardest thing to do is to get the majority to speak up. Most people do not want to embroil in forum campaigns. And the only other way to get things done right is to have strong people with the “right idea” in their head. (Right idea according to me, that is ;) .) And with bosses that do NOT have them… not going to happen. Sorry, but it’s not going to happen.

  2. JesDyr says:

    I blame the current state of the game, as far as marketplace items, on the fact that there are many people out there who have been willing to pay hundreds of dollars for LoN loot cards for fairly worthless mounts and such. SOE sees this and thinks “Hey if a few are willing to pay $300 for a mount, many more will be willing to pay $25 for ____ “. The tricky part is maintaining a balance of opinion. This is why they have been slowly moving away from true fluff items little by little. It will only get worse. you can count on that.

  3. Knytta says:

    This is of course a big issue for a lot of people, but on the other hand it could also be that catering to the “vocal minority” (or whatever you can say and I do not mean it in a negative way) have got EQ2 exactly nowhere in sub numbers, if you log in lately it is amazing how many people that are exited over the Vampires, and yes it is waaay to expensive and I would never buy them myself. But just consider it may be so that SOE finally have studied their numbers and figured out something that works,

    The issue here is what the majority of the customer base wants and I think it is unproven that the majority of the Subs at the moment are unhappy with this, a majority of the bloggers and active posters maybe. Smokejumpers job is to increase the profit of the game and keep the majority of the subscribers happy, I am convinced that we will see increased RMT in EQ2 in the future as I think the old business model they used simply was wrong for a majority of the the customers. I had written a lot of things that just came out like I am bitter but the thing I want to say here is that it is (IMHO) a switch in focus from the “cutting edge” customers to the “regular customers” of EQ2 and in that change of customer focus the changes are hard to accept for the previous target customers.

    And yes I would happily buy raid gear and epics if they where sold for a reasonable price.

  4. I suspect that Smokejumper has to increase revenue or lose dev personnel to other games that SOE views as better long term investments. It’s been rumored that part of why TSF was such a small expansion was because people were pulled off EQ2 to work on Free Realms. The problem is that this trend is self-reinforcing; as the game delivers less and less while charging the same subscription (and very obviously saving the best stuff for extra fees in the cash shop), players are less inclined to stick around, which drops revenue and leads to further cuts to the dev team.

  5. Dril says:

    @Niall: As if the MMORPG.com community really is a good indicator of a game. Considering a game NOT YET RELEASED is at the top I really couldn’t care less what the people there think. Considering WoW is below FE, LOTRO and WAR tells you that that table is really ballsed up.

  6. Niall says:

    According to MMORPG, the top 25 rated MMORPGs on line or under development are:

    Game: Rating/Hype: Fee
    Guild Wars 2 (not released yet): 8.72 F2P
    Perpetuum: 8.33 $9.95
    EVE Online: 8.26 $14.95
    Guild Wars: 8.26 F2P
    Lord of The Rings Online: 8.26 F2P
    Atlantica Online: 8.25 ?
    Dark Age of Camelot: 8.25 $14.95
    EverQuest II: 8.25 $14.99
    Vanguard: Saga of Heroes: 8.25 $14.99
    Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning: 8.25 $14.99
    City of Heroes: 8.25 $14.99
    Ryzom: 8.24 $10.95
    Final Fantasy XI: 8.24 $12.95
    Fallen Earth: 8.24 $14.99
    Guild Wars Factions: 8.22 F2P
    City of Villains: 8.22 $14.99
    Guild Wars Nightfall: 8.15 F2P
    Ultima Online: 8.13 $12.99
    Anarchy Online: 8.13 $14.99
    Dungeons and Dragons Online: 8.12 ?
    World of Warcraft: 8.12 $14.99
    EverQuest: 8.11 $14.99
    Rift (not released yet): 8.11 ?
    Lineage 2: 8.11 $14.99
    Asheron’s Call: 8.05 $12.95

  7. Alik Steel says:

    @chreo, and @stargrace Remembeer when we as a server had to do the Quest to open frogloks? That was fun, That was something every one could do, Not just people that has $20 to play a race.

    @xXJayeDuBXx SOE was paying more for the IP per month than they had suds paying in each month. If not for that I think MXO would still be open.

    @pkudude99 Don’t keep up that much with EQ2 now, I did not know they fixed that. 1 of 100 checked of the EQ2 needs to fix list. ;-)

  8. stargrace says:

    @Chreo – you would have to go back a post or two and read the 40 plus comments on the “goodbye EQ2” post to see what issues are bothering people. =) If you honestly don’t think the game has changed in 6 years since the market has been introduced, well. There’s probably nothing I can do to change your opinion on that. I just remember the days where races were the basics of the game, and came with our monthly subscription.

  9. chreo says:

    I’m honestly a bit baffled by all the feedback SC and the vampire race has generated. For me, absolutely nothing has changed – except that there are lots of vanity items now (which wouldn’t be there in the first place without SC) that people pay for and help generate revenue (keep the game funded). If prices are high, and people still buy items, great. More money for the game. Nothing that I am affected by. There is a Marketplace option in the main menu, I can avoid that, that’s it. No other change. So what’s the problem (I’m truly curious)?

    And I also liked the way of introducing eq2x as f2p option – keeping the core game and servers as it is was important. There are regularly new players about (I play on CB) so it’s not like “everyone new is staying on Freeport”.

  10. xXJayeDuBXx says:

    With regards to MxO, I believe the reason that was given for it’s shut down was the Matrix license was costing more than the revenue the game was bringing in, Vanguard, SWG and the rest are owned by SOE so it’s cheaper for them to keep those games up and running.

    This is a great list, and it would be nice if they were to happen, but like you said it probably will not. The Vampire pricing frankly is inexcusable, but are you not already a subscriber which means you would get the race for free in a few months? Initially I thought the pricing was to grab those who are early adopters and that the race would be available in the expansion, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    No one can really fault SOE or Turbine or any F2P company for adding as many items to the cash shop as they can, it’s probably their main source for revenue, but in SOE’s case it brings up the biggest issue in my mind, the EQ2X and EQ2 servers. Maybe if SOE would commit to the f2p service completely then just maybe they will have some better direction with where the game is going.

  11. pkudude99 says:

    @alik — AB is on new hardware now. Runs smooth as glass. Unfortunately, I think only Crushbone is also on the new hardware and we’re told there aren’t any plans to upgrade the other servers. With their recent server mergers and all servers now (theoretically) having AB-level populations due to that, I don’t know what that’s gonna do to the other servers. I’ve actually been playing on AB the past couple of months myself while my other toons lie fallow, so I haven’t seen what it’s like yet.

  12. Scopique says:

    SOE is a weird beast: they’re one of the few Western companies to operate a stable of MMOs. They’re more like Nexon or other Eastern companies in that regard, but I get the feeling that either they don’t know how to handle it, that it’s gotten too big for them to handle correctly, or that they have no intention of making/supporting a product that falls below a certain threshold.

    They shut down MxO, but VG is still in operation? Who’s playing Planetside these days? We don’t know the inner workings of these companies, but I cannot seem to fathom the path that SOE takes from day to day. The thing is, EQ2 is one of the most robust MMOs out there; it works on many levels that people ask for in other games, and it has a lot to do during your sessions. Is SOE’s workforce/dollars spread too thin? If SOE focused 75% of their overall resources on EQ2 (maintenance, expansion, advertising, salaries, etc) could they get more people in? Could they reduce the rising focus on the cash shop?

    I like EQ2, and other SOE titles, but I always got the feeling that they never had any commitment to any of the titles in their stable, that they’d throw game X under the bus if it seemed that putting more weight behind game Y would help game Y succeed. Now it seems that they’re not interested in shifting resources, but instead are just trying to vacuum cash from people without regard to what’s right or what’s good for the games.

  13. @stargrace – “we’re getting much less bang for our buck”. Amen. While I can understand padding the bottom line in various ways, something I’ve written about before, the slippery slope we all feared is still quite slippery. In SOE’s case, it’s turning into a landslide. I still fail to see how this is good for consumers, when stuff we usually got through content patches instead goes to various item shops.

    @alik – I’ve been a supporter of SOE for a long time, I’m impressed by them keeping Vanguard running and how they allowed MXO to stay online much longer than any companies would have done. But it’s hard not to understand where all the hate comes from sometimes. With SWG, I know I’m always walking the fine line between loving it and quitting in disgust.

  14. Alik Steel says:

    I left EQ2 a year ago now, And your points and more was the reason. I was told that I was dumb for thinking the cash shop was going to lead to the doom of eq2. But it has, But there has been much more that pushed me away. When a game that had been live for 5 years at the time could not come up with a way to fix lag on the AB server, And Then open the flood gates by leting anyone with $25 move to the server that already had bed lag and many crashes at pick play times. Going with a more top end exp content did not help to keep me with the game. Add the cash shop selling things that I(carpenter) could not make killed my money. And even back then(a year ago) it felt like they really did not care what they player based wanted or needed to keep them happy. EQ2 may not be shut down any time soon, But it’s a dead game. When hardcore players like you and my brother(He is looking at Rift as well) start walking away. The game has no place but down to go.

    Now I know what all that sounds like, A SOE and/or EQ2 hater. But I’m not, Even now over a year(maybe by a month or so) of walking away from the game, I wish it had not went the way it did. I had so many fun hours playing the game solo and with friends. I just hope what ever game SOE is working on that took away the love for EQ2 is a great game. Because they killed the best game they had for it.

    -Alik Steel

  15. stargrace says:

    @Petter – I know exactly what you mean by using WoW as an example of a ‘good subscription based game’. It DOES feel weird, WoW has been the “evil” MMO for so long now. I understand (and embrace) the fact that companies are there to make money from their product, but I feel that where the product used to be the game itself and that’s what our subscriptions went towards has completely shifted. Now the product is whatever is being sold in the cash shops, and our subscriptions are used (as they have said to us time and time again over at SOE) to rent time on their servers. Again if this is the way things are going so be it, there’s obviously an audience it appeals to but I honestly don’t know too many veteran players who are ok with the changes. It’s like we’re getting much less bang for our buck, unless we purchase from the stores on top of our subscriptions.

  16. I get similar feelings from a lot of games right now, most importantly SWG. While we did get the yearly content update, with Witches of Dathomir, some of the coolest stuff (like the Cloud City house) once again ends up in the TCG. Hard to argue with when they make a chunk of money from it, but it still stings a bit. I also get a similar feeling when Turbine have started to add back the reputation mounts to the LotRO store, despite the outrage from players when they previously did it, only hiding it behind the ones from the store having worse stats than the regular in-game bought mounts.

    It’s hard not to get the feeling that Blizzard is one of the few bastions of good MMO publishing ethics left, considering their very limited cash shop offerings (so far). And that feels weird. While F2P on paper is good for the players, publishers tend to make it quite clear (to me) that I have no reason to embrace the business model when design keeps getting the shaft for quick money.

  17. Kasul says:

    I think you hit all the high points. Even one or two of these would go a long way toward bringing some of the balance that EQ2 has been missing in the past year and a half. And the key word here really is balance.

    For all the initial decision to separate the freemium servers from the existing ones was explained to be because they wanted the game to not be changed for the existing players, it’s been a nearly complete lie. That’s what upsets me more than anything else really. The free servers won’t change your experience at all, except there’s no trial for pay servers anymore. And camping to ‘hidden’ characters on your account is an exploit. And the next content patch we come out with is all going to be station store and new player experience related. But wait, you’ve been so loyal we’re giving you the new character race free! Except that it will also be available in the store, and you don’t get any of the goodies that come with it.

    I’ve just been disgusted. We all have a line that is where we say ‘too much’ and can’t continue to support a product once it’s been crossed. They’ve been crossing that line repeatedly with EQ2.

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