For years, players have been asking for additional character slots, either for free, or as an optional one-time purchase.
Seven vs. Twelve
An EQ2 monthly subscription runs approximately $14-15 a month depending on your choice to pre-pay 3, 6, or 12 months in advance, or stick to month-to-month payments. Despite the introduction of new races, and a new expansion each year, currently, EQ2 subscribers have access to 7 character slots.
So far, the only option offered to increase the number of character slots has been to buy Station Access. This $29.95/mo package was originally intended as a way to provide access to SOE's entire stable of online games (EQ1, EQ2, SWG, etc.). But over the years, this deal has been sweetened with the addition of more character slots. An EQ2 player with Station Access receives 12 character slots.
It's worth noting that those are 7 and 12 slots per region. Players can start 7 characters on US, EU, and Test servers, making for a total of 21 characters in all if you include all 3 regions.
What happens when you downgrade, and today's changes after the jump...
What happens when you downgrade?
What hasn't been clear is what happens when a player initially subscribes to Station Access, creates more than 7 characters, and then at some point in the future downgrades their account to an EQ2 standard account.
Who decides which 7 characters remain accessible?
How do you tell the game which 7 character slots you want to keep active?
Can any of the other characters be accessed?
Station Access FAQ
Here's what the Station Access FAQ has to say on the subject:
What happens to my additional character slots for EverQuest, EverQuest II and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes if my Station Access subscription is cancelled or terminated?
You will only have access to your additional character slots while you are an active Station Access subscriber. If you cancel your Station Access subscription or it is cancelled or terminated, but you continue with your individual game subscription, you will only retain access to the standard number of characters for that game.
Not exactly clear.
The point of this article is not to hang anyone at SOE out to dry. In the past, players have been able to switch to hidden characters, that is, characters they don't have access to because they are on a standard EQ2 account, by typing /camp charactername. This advice came from well-meaning SOE support based on the information available to them at the time.
This was the policy at the time, I'm guessing because there just wasn't a better way for a player to choose which 7 characters they want to use, to the exclusion of all others.
Game Update 57 Change
With Game Update 57 comes a new error message and behavior. If you have more characters than you should, if you try to access the "hidden" characters, you are presented with an error message indicating that you have too many characters. There is no way to shuffle your characters around and choose which 7 you want to use.
I think we can all agree that A player should not be able to pay $15/month and have all the character slots they want.
However throwing the switch and locking out players from accessing all but the 7 most recently accessed characters without any warning or announcement is probably not the best way to keep some of your most loyal customers to stick around, or to get them to pay more money.
I've read this controversial thread and players have been called shoplifters, scofflaws, thieves, and worse, despite the fact that some of these players have paid upwards of $500 over 3 years just to maintain 5 extra character slots. Is a character slot really worth $100? At one time, Station Access was $20 per month. Now it's $30.
I heard rumblings at Fan Faire that the Station Access may receive some attention, either additional benefits or some other change. But this is the kind of thing that should be discussed out in the open, with transparency about what SOE is wanting to accomplish. This is the type of change that should have been announced and discussed, and possibly with the introduction of a reasonably affordable one-time fee or monthly fee to buy additional character slots. It also doesn't help that some players were unable to locate the Station Access plan within the revamped EQ2 Subscription chooser screens.
If you have 7 characters, then with your EQ2 account you still have access to those 7 slots today.
If you have 12 characters and have Station Access, then you still have access to those 12 slots.
If you have more than 7 characters, but are on a standard EQ2 account, then for the time being, if you try to /camp to a character not currently on the Character Select screen (the last 7 actively used characters), or even if you try to edit the appropriate INI settings file, you will not be able to access those other characters until you upgrade to a Station Access account. If you try, you will be presented with an error message "You have too many characters."