Hi there, Norrathians,
As they say, the one thing that’s always true about the world is that it changes. That’s true of the world in general, the game industry, and it’s always been true with “EverQuest II”.
The very nature of an MMO is change. We listen, we adapt, and the game grows in features, content, and fun factor as the months and years pass. Now, the expectations of gamers and the industry itself are changing around us, and it’s time for “EverQuest II” to spring forward so it can continue to expand and be successful.
Many of you are aware of the free-to-play model that’s being embraced by many of the big game developers out there. We’re not the first folks to entertain the idea for an MMO, but we do have the biggest and best virtual world to offer in such a model and we firmly believe that we can expose thousands and thousands of new players to the world of Norrath if we embrace that concept.
However, before going any further, I’d like to stop and say that we’re tied into what you, the community of EQII players, have said about selling items with stats and how they affect a game where you traditionally earn your way forward. We completely understand there’s a solid core of you that want nothing at all to do with that. We respect your wishes and, as I’ve personally stated previously, we’re not planning any changes to the current subscription worlds at all. Those servers, that subscription service and that gameplay will continue as normal. We’ll continue to support the existing Live service with content, expansions, features, and events…just as we’ve always done. In fact, we’re upping the ante by providing subscription rewards packages for active users that buy multi-month subscriptions, giving them rewards like cool, unique, exclusive items and Station Cash.
But the free-to-play concept is a strong way to expose the world of Norrath to hordes of new players. Think of it as a huge new way to run a “free trial” like we’ve always done, but without the “14-day” limit, and with a lot more content available to try before you decide whether you want to commit to the game or not. We’ve had over eight years to grow this game, its content and its features, and there’s simply nothing else like it out there.
So, we’re about to launch a bold new service named “EverQuest II Extended” (EQ2X). This is a completely separate service from the standard EQII Live subscription service (EQII). It’s aims are simply to attract new players to the world of “EverQuest II” and let them try it out before deciding if and how they want to pay for it.
“EverQuest II Extended” shares all the content and features of Live EQII. It plays the same. It looks the same. It *is* the same, with two obvious exceptions: a) it’s free-to-play, and b) it has a more robust marketplace.
What does “free-to-play” mean? It means that you can download the game and play all of it (except the most recent expansion) all the way up to level 90. Your character is restricted in a bunch of different ways (limited class selection, limited races, limited coin, etc.) and to unlock those features fully, you’ll need to subscribe to Gold level membership. Which, coincidentally, is $15/month. Sound familiar?
What is a “robust marketplace”? It’s exactly the same marketplace that you see on the EQII service, but it also adds lots of “convenience” items. Can’t find a good shield in-game? We sell one appropriate to your level and class. Want a healing potion to use in a pinch? Need an emergency buff? Want to shortcut your research time? Items like that are all available in the marketplace. Do we sell the very best items and equipment? Nope. Legendary and Fabled gear are better than what you can buy in the marketplace. Has the game been rebalanced so that you *need* to buy these “convenience” items? Nope. EQ2X is exactly the same game that you’re playing currently on the EQII servers. Those items are just there if you want them. They are true “convenience” items.
There’s lots more details about all of this (and you can find the FAQ at http://eq2players.station.sony.com/…ay/extended_faq ), but remember…this only affects you if you want it to affect you. If you ignore EQ2X completely, then your existing subscription, game, and support are unchanged.
If you’re a current subscriber, and you’d like to take a peek at “EverQuest II Extended” on its new Test server, you can jump into the game at the Free membership level by clicking here and streaming down the game client you’ll need. ( http://launch.soe.com/eq2x/ ) This is the Alpha version of the service and its currently only available to existing subscribers so you can see it for yourselves before the public sees it later. The beta launch of the EQ2X service will occur in mid-August.
Whether you check out the new stuff as a Live subscription player, or as an Extended player, you’ll see examples of how we upgrade the content simultaneously across both services. We’ve significantly improved the UI, skill progressions, new user quest content, tutorials, created the “Regions of Interest” system so you can see where your quests are located, and much more.
– Dave (Smokejumper) Georgeson.