Game Update 63: Skyshrine Pushed to April 18th for EU Servers

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Game Updates & Maintenance, International

From Piestro on the EQ2 Forums:

On Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 5 AM London Time the Splitpaw server will come down for Game Update 63: Skyshrine. Expected downtime is approximately 5 hours.

We haven’t heard of “London Time”, and we’re not sure why only the Splitpaw server is mentioned. Maybe Piestro meant to say:

On Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at 5:00 British Summer Time (6:00 Central Europe Time) the Splitpaw, Storms, and Valor servers will come down for Game Update 63: Skyshrine. Expected downtime is approximately 5 hours. We apologize for patching the European servers nearly a full day after U.S. servers have been updated. We haven’t sussed out how to do simultaneous updates (or communicate patch times) during the first 62 patches, so you don’t expect it for the 63rd.

   

Sony Corp Cutting 10,000 Jobs Worldwide

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, International

A Sony Corp. logo pictured at an electronic store in Tokyo. (Yuriko Nakao / April 9, 2012)

Although it is my understanding that this has no immediate ramifications for Sony Online Entertainment, which has already undergone two rounds of belt-tightening, and recently signed an exclusive European distribution deal with ProSiebenSat.1 which no doubt had financial incentives behind it, this is news that several people have reported in so I’m reposting it.

UPDATE: Sony Corp has revised their expected financial losses for 2011 to $6.4 billion.

From ArsTechnica:

Sony Corp. is planning on cutting loose 10,000 of its employees in an effort to bring the company back to profitability, according to reports by the Japanese business newspaper Nikkei and the Associated Press.

The job cuts would amount to a global workforce reduction of 6%. Half of the layoffs will come from reshuffling related to Sony’s departure from the small LCD display business, and consolidation of its midsize display and chemical businesses. On April 1, Sony completed the spinoff and merger of its Mobile Display with the LCD and LED businesses of Hitachi and Toshiba to form Japan Display, an independent company that Sony holds a 10 percent stake in (with the Japanese government-financed Innovation Network Corporation of Japan holding the 70 percent majority stake).

Whose Account Is It Anyway? ProSiebenSat.1 vs. SOE

Written by Feldon on . Posted in International

When the ProSiebenSat.1 deal was announced, it was indicated that some EQ2 servers would be IP locked. Existing EU players would be grandfathered into continuing to play on US servers, but US players would not be able to continue to play on EU servers. The IP locking (SOE was careful not to use this term) applied to the servers.

After this announcement went over like mustard-flavored ice cream, SOE went away for 2 1/2 months and came back with a different approach. Servers will NOT be region-locked, accounts will be. So if you try to login to your SOE account in Europe, you’ll get a message prompting you to create a ProSiebenSat.1 account. Now all of this is still months away (DCUO is first up for the transition), but folks have grown weary of waiting for answers.

Really, this boils down to whether people want to do business with ProSiebenSat.1/Alaplaya. After the announcement of the SOE-ProSiebenSat.1 deal, EQ2Wire and others found a mixed track record and a variety of warning signs which players latched onto. The primary issue is trusting ProSiebenSat.1 with our account info, the same account info that SOE has themselves stumbled at protecting in recent years.

Brasse Talks Updated ProSiebenSat.1 FAQ

Written by Feldon on . Posted in International

From Brasse on the EQ2 Forums:

Friends,

We promised that all players would be able to play together, to play on the servers of their choice. This was a huge undertaking, technically, but vital to keeping our players together.  Accounts will necessarily be handled separately as games transition. We are working very closely together and we are all are fully committed to serving their customers well.

While it will be impossible to address each and every post here, I would like to answer a few.

After 10 Weeks, Brasse Asks for More Patience on ProSiebenSat.1 Deal

Written by Feldon on . Posted in International

On January 12, 2012, Sony Online Entertainment announced an exclusive publishing and distribution deal with ProSiebenSat.1, a German TV media company whose gaming division Alaplaya has previously known for its pay-to-win browser games. After 2 weeks, we raised some questions about the deal.

Yet it would be another four weeks before any official response would come. And if SOE hoped that a vague Frequently Asked Questions about the ProSiebenSat.1 deal would allay fears and reassure players, it couldn’t have had a more opposite effect. Never has the EQ2 playerbase been more united behind one issue than ensuring that ALL players have a choice of which company they wish to do business with, and that in this the 21st century, we will not stand for the archaic notion of region locking, especially on an established game with an eight year history of friendships.

The firestorm resulted in hundreds of posts being sanitized from the SOE forums, unprecedented user bannings and suspensions, and a flurry of activity from SOE’s hired moderator team (they stopped being volunteers years ago). Even Massively, SOE’s go-to for coverage of SOE-friendly news dubbed the situation a “fiasco”. EQ2Wire collected 20 Things SOE Forgot About in the ProSiebenSat.1/Alaplaya Deal which has been widely reproduced as talking points in the debate. To date, none of these questions has been answered.

SOE President John Smedley was finally roped into the situation and made a Twitter request for players to stay tuned and promised that a solution was forthcoming. Indeed he made this assurance on February 26th, 2012 to a European player:

I think we’ve got it figured out and will announce our plan Monday.

Tonight, on the eve of the one month anniversary of that promise, comes a new announcement from Linda “Brasse” Carlson requesting additional time and patience.

SOE’s In-Game Poll Results In and March Plans Tomorrow?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Game Updates & Maintenance, International

We’ve got some vague results from SOE’s first in-game poll, notable for having only been distributed to North American players.

From Piestro on the EQ2 Forums:

A big thanks to all of you for participating in the first EQII In-Game Poll and helping us get to know you better! We were very happy with the number of you who took the time to go ahead and answer our poll questions and we’ve spent some time going over the data.

So, on to the results! We know that the majority of you are exploring overland areas, doing quests, and playing in dungeons. Whew! We’re glad there are no surprises there.

ProSiebenSat Answers Remain Elusive

Written by Feldon on . Posted in International

From Piestro on the EQ2 Forums:

Details on our end are still being worked on to make the solution a reality. Essentially we are going to resolve the difficulties on our end rather than region lock. See Brasse and Smed’s statements. How we accomplish this will mostly be technical mumbo jumbo that doesn’t mean much unless you are a programmer working at SOE and intimately familiar with how our servers are architected AND how our account management works. Sharing those details would be more confusing and less meaningful than just saying “we’re going to take care of it”.

We’ve got plenty of time to resolve this for EQII, since this change was not planned for the near future.

John Smedley: All Players on All Servers

Written by Feldon on . Posted in International

From John Smedley‘s Twitter:

We’ve come up with a plan to allow ALL players to play on any servers they want. More details to follow.

UPDATE from Zatozia:

Hey there! We have a status update on this topic for you. A solution to keep the communities together is now in the works! We’ll be providing more details about the solution with an official announcement a bit later but we wanted to let everyone know that it was coming as soon as we could. Thank you all for your great feedback on this topic.

UPDATE from Piestro:

Just to elaborate a bit on what Zat said above, last week we let you know that we were working on finding a solution to the EU/US community split. This morning Smed has confirmed we have found a solution to avoid needing the split and are working to make this a full reality.

Smed wanted to let you know as speedily as possible, and tweets are an easy way to do so. It wasn’t a stretch to guess that it would quickly be reposted to the relevant communities. We’ll have more details later as we get them. I’ll clarify a bit right now and say that “All players” in Smed’s tweet specifically referred to all players potentially impacted by the ProSieben deal.

As for further concerns, yes we continue to listen to what you all have to say and are in communication about many of them. Clarification and further communication on many of these concerns is also in the works, but those are seperate issues from the EU server issue and we wanted to get communication about that as quickly as we could.

Update at 2:30pm PST from Brasse:

SOE and ProSieben worked throughout the weekend to develop a plan that will allow our players to access and play on any server regardless of where they are in the world. Our community is our top priority and rest assured, all of your concerns have been heard. We continue to work together with ProSieben and appreciate your patience as we work around the clock to work out critical technical details. We will share more information as soon as possible.

UPDATE from Brasse:

This partnership will not impact Akella customers! They will carry on as usual!

PC Gamer: PlanetSide 2, other SOE games to be Region Locked

Written by Feldon on . Posted in International

We missed this news on Thursday, but word of Planetside 2 and other SOE games region locking are making it to mainstream media, specifically PCGamer.com:

Sony Online Entertainment have announced that the running of many of their games is transferring to German publisher ProSiebenStat.1 Games Group in Europe. Games affected include EverQuest II, DC Universe Online, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, Free Realms, and this year’s Planetside 2.

While SOE will continue to manage the European servers for their games, European players will no longer be able to play with friends in the US. The two providers will use separate account systems and virtual currencies, effectively splitting each game in two.

Piestro: “Euro Players Have Not Been ‘Sold Off’”

Written by Feldon on . Posted in International

From EverQuest II’s new Community Manager Eric “Piestro” Cleaver who must surely be having a worse week than many of us:

Hey folks,

There is something I want to clear up. A lot of people are talking about how the EU servers and players are being “sold off”. And that’s very clearly how many people feel and we can respect that. When we’re discussing feelings that makes total sense. We get that it feels this way to many of you.

Unfortunately, as language sometimes does, this has sort of run away with itself. It has all sorts of implications that aren’t true, and these implications lead to misunderstanding. What this deal is is a Publishing deal. ProSieben is going to act as the European Publisher for a number of SOE products, promoting and administering those games in Europe. This will give things like more marketing in the areas that the deal covers, as well as potentially better native language support and similar. More marketing and more native language support are good things I think we can all agree.

The Tattered Notebook: Breaking Up the Family

Written by Feldon on . Posted in International

From Karen Bryan at Massively:

With this week’s news about the ProSiebenSat.1/Alaplaya deal, SOE fans were up in arms, and EverQuest II was at the epicenter of the protest. There were concerns ranging from account security to quality of player support, but the biggest concern was the fact that there would be a barrier between U.S. and European players going forward.

I’ve written before about how tight-knit the community is in EQII, and that’s probably why you saw some of the strongest protests originate on the EQII forums. That closeness extends to the EQII development team as well. I’ve been to a couple of Fan Faires and was surprised at how accessible the team always made itself. Combine that with a core community of longstanding, loyal players, and you basically have one big family.

So when fans were hit with the second big news story of the week, the departure of Associate Producer Emily “Domino” Taylor, players reacted as if a friend or family member had moved out of the home. What do these two news stories have in common, and what can they tell us about EverQuest II?

Continue reading at Massively >>

SOE, Alaplaya “Working on Solution”

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, International

For many, the damage is already done, but here are some updates…

From John Smedley, President of Sony Online Entertainment via Twitter:

We are working on a plan to insure we don’t split the communities up. More info to follow.

From Brasse on the EQ2 Forums:

As we approach the weekend, we wanted to share that we are working on a plan to keep our communities together with the ProSieben deal. Again, we thank you for your patience – we’ll provide more information as soon as it is available.

From Protagonist, a Manager at Alaplaya, CEO of ProSiebenGames, via Alaplaya forums:

Before weekend we will not have an answer. Sorry about it but the Technicans needs to figure out things first.
If the idea works out we will have no barriers for everyone but we need to see and wait what is possible.

Before abandon and run away I would wait as the idea we have in mind really solves a lot.

Ark’s Ark Asks “Who are ProSiebenSat.1 anyway?”

Written by Feldon on . Posted in International

From Ark’s Ark:

As you know by now, SOE is selling its European players to a company called ProSiebenSat.1. OK, technically, they’re selling them the exclusive rights to run the games within Europe (including the UK), but that includes all the characters on the European servers, and the details of anyone with a character there. The value of the playerbase has certainly been accounted for in the deal, and so we have been passed like chattels to a new master.

So who are they, these folks that we suddenly find in control?

ProSiebenSat.1 is a German media conglomerate. Their main business is German language television for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Most important for us though is a little side-business called Alaplaya, which runs a number of online games such as Argo, Skylancer, and a number of other games that you’ve also only ever seen mentioned in cheap google ads.

Continue reading the article including the revelation that on December 15, 2011, ProSiebenSat.1 Group and Sony Pictures Television Sales Deutschland GmbH entered into a far-reaching output deal for the video-on-demand portal maxdome, a local competitor to Netflix.

   

An Open Letter to John Smedley by Moria

Written by Feldon on . Posted in International

From Moria on the EQ2 Forums:

Dear Mr Smedley.

You don’t know me, personally, and I don’t know you. However, I know your work.. and I admire it. I remember Keys to Maramon on the Amiga, I remember 989 Studios and I remember Verant software. I remember your pride in the development of Everquest, and being a beta player, you often replied to our posts on the forums and discussed mechanics, objectives hopes and fears with us. I remember how much you cared about the community and the way that the company and the players together were making waves and changing the face of online gaming.

I remember coming out of Beta and starting on a new server called Rodcet Nife. I was one of the first players to level 20 on that server and in those days, to get a surname, it involved a GM who came and tested the player and their knowledge of lore prior to granting the surname. I was the first in my guild, and 4 guilds all came out to Antonica to witness the ceremony and the party.

We were a family. The developers, the GM’s the Guides and the players. Presumptious on my part I know, but I felt that way anyway. Rodcet Nife had a majority of players from Europe, and at that time I was living in Europe. ( I am british by Birth and I have fought for my country to preserve the right of people to choose their own destiny. My father was present, and ashamed, when the Berlin Wall was built by the Eastern Block.. I was present and proud on the day it came down).

P7S1/Alaplaya Sets Up Temp Forum, Responds to SOE Concerns

Written by Feldon on . Posted in International

ProSiebenSat.1/Alaplaya has established a temporary forum and thread to discuss the ProSiebenSat.1/Alaplaya-SOE deal. Here’s the announcement from Coldor, Alaplaya’s Community Manager:

Hello fellow SOE- and Alaplaya-Gamers,

with this board we just created a temporarily catch basin for all your questions regarding our new partnership between SOE (Sony Online Entertainment) and ProSiebenSat1 Games.

This will not be the final billboard-solution for the upcoming SOE-Games. With the following launch of DC Universe Online all SOE-Games will get their own dedicated websites with appropriate designs and a fresh billboard for you to use.

We are looking into a bright gaming future here at ProSiebenSat1 Games and the upcoming big SOE-Games like DC Universe Online, EverQuest II, Free Realms and PlanetSide 2 are just the tip of the iceberg.

So stay tuned for more details to come.

And now in the IRC channel, Coldor is answering some questions specifically.

  • SOE games will have nothing to do with Alaplaya at all.
  • With the launch of DC Universe, we will introduce a new in-game currency that is similar to StationCash. It will not be Alaplaya Points. Your Station cash will be converted to our currency and you will be able to use it with EQ2 and Vanguard.
  • Since EQ1 is not part of our SOE deal, I can’t give you an answer if we can “split” Station cash just for your EQ1 account. I will bring up the idea up with station cash to let users decide how much they want to get converted.
  • Currently everything is in discussion here and at SOE. It’s not totally set in stone.
  • IP-Lock is being discussed as I have already told you, so please don’t decide on just that.

P7S1/Alaplaya Explains Customer Names on Public Forum

Written by Feldon on . Posted in International

From the Alaplaya Forums:

What we did (long time ago):

When a user made a wire transfer and put a wrong or unreadable accound id on the sheet we could not put the money on the account. We had “just” the name of the user who made the wire transfer. If this name was not existing in our DB we asked the user to contact us. It was a service which was in favour and by demand of the users. As wire transfer could take quite long from some countries this list helped the users to get a status.

We tried to find the user who paid us. Something totally different and last option was to send back the money where depending on the country the bank took a cut of the money.

We stopped that payment method long time ago as it was archaic and better methods occured.

Hope that makes it clear for all of you.

P.S: You never could be back with payments at that time as we did not have subscriptions! We never ever did such thing.

A Player Calls ProSiebenSat.1 — Gets Answers?

Written by Feldon on . Posted in International

A player named Trevynoae with an account going back to 2004 posted about a phone call he had with ProSiebenSat.1 on the subject of this SOE deal. Normally we do not run with single-source news, but with the dearth of information coming from SOE, we’re going to post this:

- There will be no Alaplaya-accounts – but there will be a region lock. We will log in via our SOE account on the alaplaya-page. (*looks confused*)

- EU Players will be able to create new SOE accounts and will be able to play on the US-servers there.

- EU accounts will get flagged. If you are currently located in the EU, Pro7 will get your money – otherwise it will go to SOE. More a segregation of people than servers. It doesn’t matter what server you play on. (See update below)

In Your Own Words: EQ2 Players React to SOE-ProSieben Deal

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, International

Even if you don’t personally use Twitter, it’s worth following people in the EQ2 community to get their instant impressions on different subjects…

Arkenor: Anyone with a character on a European server has just been sold to a company they’ve never heard of, without their permission.

MMOYeti: SOE have once again thrown up the finger to Europeans. Our US guild member who played on euro times can not now join us in eqnext… we now have a US guildie that (if we play) eqnext he will be unable to join us.

MMOYeti: @j_smedley Ah you always give me a good laugh, I never cease to be amazed at the shocking conduct of the company you oversee.MMOYeti: @j_smedley In one quick move to make no doubt more than a few quick bucks you split guilds and friends playing your game.

MMOYeti: @CheesePirateEq2 You’d think the internet of all things was something that could remove barriers not set them up.

SOE EQ2 Community Team Deletes 100′s of Posts, Bans Dozens Over ProSieben Feedback

Written by Feldon on . Posted in International

If you want to know what’s been going on at the EQ2 forums, the quickest way to sum it up is this — I have been banned for the first time ever from the EQ2 forums for “excessive negativity”.

ProSiebenSat.1/Alaplaya — A Company Unfit for SOE Customers

Six weeks ago, an exclusive distribution deal affecting all Europe-based SOE customers was announced with a German TV media company named ProSiebenSat.1. Within minutes of the announcement, players discovered that ProSiebenSat.1′s gaming division is called Alaplaya, a company known for IP Region Locking, publishing the personal details of customers in violation of EU and German privacy law, shady dealings with customers, and a lineup of poorly supported low-grade pay-to-win browser games riddled with exploits which even Alaplaya’s official moderators have admitted the company plans to do nothing about.

This Tuesday afternoon, after six weeks of silence, SOE finally came forward with a Frequently Asked Questions about the ProSiebenSat.1 deal. Our worst fears were realized.

When the deal goes into effect, U.S. players will no longer be able to access EU servers. For a variety of reasons, this is a serious problem.

Also, no new EU-based players will be able to access U.S. servers – only current players will be grandfathered in. The end result being that the hundreds of Euro-based guilds on U.S. servers will no longer be able to recruit new players from the EU.

But the real elephant in the room is: NOBODY who has done even the most cursory of investigation wants to do business with Alaplaya.

20 Things SOE Forgot About in the ProSiebenSat.1/Alaplaya Deal

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, International

The news that SOE will be dividing the EQ2 community by Region, in order to secure a lucrative distribution deal with ProSiebenSat.1′s Alaplaya gaming division, has gone over like curry-flavoured ice cream. Besides the outrage at splitting up a community whose strength has been players hailing from all over the world, SOE seems to have neglected some of the more mundane technical and historical details. We’ve collected a few:

  • U.S. players who play EQ2 during the daytime have always had the option of grouping with players on Splitpaw (UK) where it’s afternoon/evening.
  • European players paid upwards of 30 Euros for SOE Authenticator keyfobs including shipping to Europe. They will not work with Alaplaya/PSS1
  • French Canadian players have traditionally played on the Storms server. After the cutoff, North American players will no longer be able to connect to EU servers.
  • U.S. Military and Expats residing in Europe won’t be able to start on US servers, and will instead be forced to roll on European servers. When they get orders back to the States, they won’t be able to access their established characters/guilds/alliances/friends.

Breaking: ProSieben-SOE Deal Delivers Region Lockouts, New Launcher, SC Currency

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Game Updates & Maintenance, International

The ProSieben-Sony Online Entertainment distribution deal announced over six weeks ago has finally got some Frequently Asked Questions answered:

ProSieben FAQ in French

ProSieben FAQ in German

ProSieben FAQ in English

Can players still access the U.S. servers?
Under the new partnership between SOE and ProSiebenSat.1 Games, European players of the above mentioned SOE games will be able to play via ProSiebenSat.1 Games’s service and will not have access to U.S. servers.  However, existing EverQuest II players in Europe that have played on U.S. servers before the transition will be allowed to continue playing on those servers through their SOE accounts.

Can U.S. players log on to the European servers?
U.S.-based players will have access to the U.S. servers only.

Will International servers be merged with the U.S. servers?
No, European and U.S. based servers will exist independently of each other.

I’m a European player; after I create my ProSieben account, will my SOE account be shut down?
Your SOE account will not be shut down, but you will only be able to play the above mentioned games through a ProSiebenSat.1 Games account.  As discussed above, we will provide a simple way to have your characters and game progress transferred and the value of your Station Cash granted to your new ProSiebenSat.1 Games account.  Also, existing EverQuest II players in Europe that have played on U.S. servers before the transition will be allowed to continue playing on those servers through their SOE accounts.

Can players continue to use Station Cash?
European players will be able to use a new virtual currency similar to Station Cash.

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