Sorry for blurry pics. Here’s what I got. I also recorded the first part on video, but didn’t get the Q&A. 🙁
The #1 reaction SOE has been receiving from players re: station cash, rmt, and free to play has been a resounding Not in My Back Yard. We commented about this on Wednesday.
And this may need to change if we want to have eq2x to eq2 transfers. If there is one thing I know about EQ2. If enough players ask for it, and it will make SOE money, they will add it. So who knows they might put Beastlord class on stationcash. 🙂
No doubt the best part of Fan Faire is talking to the developers. So far I’ve gotten to ask Rothgar both serious and geeky questions about the new UI, server upgrades, guild halls, and of course free-to-play.
I’ve made no secret of my concerns about the logistics of free to play seemingly cutting off the flow of new players to the live subscription side of EQ2.
Here’s a canonical summary of the SOE Community Address.
At under 50 minutes, this has to have been the shortest Community Address in the history of SOE Fan Faire events. We were advised to expect a ‘light’ event, but nothing could prepare us for nearly 20 minutes of banal, juvenile humor and heavy promotion for all things Jace Hall Productions. If you saw EverCracked, you get the idea.
Had a minute to talk to SmokeJumper 1 on 1. All has not been revealed. More incentives coming for subscription servers. Marketing will promote both games.
More in tomorrow’s panel.
E3 took place this year from June 15-17. SmokeJumper was interviewed and said that the current subscription model would not change. When asked after the announcement of EQ2 Extended about that interview, he had this to say:
Yes, at that time, we were discussing the concept. No, we were not ready to commit to it, nor did we have any details of what we might be doing.
On July 27th, EQ2 Extended was announced. I counted up how many work days passed between the interview and the announcment. Guess how many work days went by?
I still talk about the 1-50 (or 1-89) game in EQ2. I would be naive not to realize that once most folks reach 90, does it really matter how they got there? To a growing population — not really.
However people quit EQ2 all the time. Whether over an unpopular policy, or the draws of real life, a slow trickle of players are always leaving MMOs and they must be replenished. You need new players. All the great players of eq2 had the luxury of leveling up at a pleasant pace, playing fun content from at *least* 35-70 with KoS and EoF.
If you aren’t training up new players, then eq2 is a bucket with a steady leak and no refills (thanks to whomever coined that apropos euphemism).
The last 3 expansion have been all at endgame. I’m not saying they were great. But the focus is in the right place.
But I feel that level grind + aa grind using parlor tricks like RAF, potions, and high xp potions is a sorry introduction to an MMO for new players.
Remember all that time spent revamping named and adding achievements and quests for level 1-50 content?
Imagine if there were optional quests to unlock AA lines. Imagine quests that reward 1-2 aa points for experiencing defining content of the game. Imagine if Alternate Advancement really were an alternative means of advancing.
I know 1-50 or 1-89 is meaningless to endgame raiders. Honestly I want to blow through those levels myself. But you know what happens if you stop scouting and drafting from high school and college games? You get empty Pro teams with no players.
Of course announcing 1 week before Fan Faire that the eq2 subscription servers will be all *downside* compared to F2P servers does not instill confidence either. Nobody wants to start playing a new-to-them MMO on older servers that, by all accounts will be “teh suck”.
It seems inevitable that most conversations over the coming Fan Faire weekend will now somehow be tinged by Free-to-Play’s arrival in the EQ2 universe. I predict that Free-to-Play will be the elephant in the room that everyone is talking about. Even in SOE’s other active and in-development games. Even in other MMOs by other developers.
Enthusiastic players who take the future profitability of EQ2 seriously have barely had a word to say about the basic concept of Free-to-Play, but have instead focused their concerns on it’s implementation, and how SOE’s choices may very well lead to a fracturing of the community itself.
The question “Should EQ2 have Free-to-Play?” has taken a back seat to analysis of the avalanche of announcements and forum responses thus far from expert tap dancer Dave “SmokeJumper” Georgeson.
Starseeker is another new contributor to EQ2Wire and wanted to share a viewpoint on the aftermath of EQ2’s F2P announcement.
This is my commentary on Free to Play. I have to get it off my chest.
EverQuest 2 is an old game, 6 years, that is a long time for an MMO. I have been playing this game since launch. I remember the days when you would have spirit shards, and experience debt that would take away XP instead of just give you a % penalty. I remember when your guild could lose levels, and when there was heroic content in overland zones.
Things change. It is the way of life that nothing can stay the same forever. EverQuest 2 is no exception. It has changed and morphed and gone through its trials and tribulations.
The rest of the article after the jump…
EQ2Wire has never had the privilege (and responsibility) of covering a game whose Senior Producer posts almost as frequently as a player. And yet that is where we find ourselves today. Traditionally, EQ2Wire has sought to highlight and quote every post by the current EQ2 Senior Producer. Posts were so rare from Brenlo and Bruce Ferguson that this made sense.
However it is impossible to get a clear picture of the storm facing SmokeJumper, the entire EQ2 team, and indeed Sony Online Entertainment, without reading each and every post by both SmokeJumper, and his lead man — Greg “Rothgar” Spence. The current volume of communication is like trying to drink out of a fire hose.
We are currently looking at solutions, but for the time being, I suggest following the EQ2 Dev Tracker on Twitter and/or the EQ2 Dev Tracker from EQ2Flames (by adding this link to your RSS reader, you will receive just the developer posts and not replies).
So far we’ve had over 550 responses to our EQ2Wire EverQuest II Extended (F2P) Survey and we’d like to share the results with you!
We asked for your initial impressions of the new F2P service, whether you would move either a primary or secondary characters to the service, what effect you think it will have on the game, and finally whether you would recommend such a service to new players.
We now know that the 14 day Free Trial will be going away, and the Recruit-a-Friend service will be receiving some type of revamp or nerf going forward. New players will be presented with two choices: Download the new EverQuest II Extended Patcher and start on the EQ2X server, or download the EQ2 Streaming Client and start on an existing EQ2 server.
The devil in the details has been, if you don’t allow players to transfer from F2P to Live servers, how are you going to get any kind of influx of new players? It seems that keeping F2P walled off from Live servers, with regards to bidirectional character transfers, may have ironically been one deference to the wishes of customers too many.
After the jump, player reaction to the introduction of a Free-to-Play service alongside the existing EverQuest II service.
There has been a lot of anger towards the new Free-to-Play service. Not the least of which has been from players currently on existing servers that continue to struggle with lag. Thus far, we’ve heard that Free-to-Play will be launching with one server initially from an existing stock of decommissioned servers, with other servers to follow, possibly old EQ2 servers as they are upgraded to new hardware. In mid August, the Antonia Bayle and Nagafen worlds will find themselves within the comfy confines of a brand new server.
TenTonHammer has landed another exclusive interview with Dave Georgeson on EQ2’s new Free-to-Play service. You can read it here.
In the aftermath of EverQuest II picking up a Free-to-Play service, count on Massively to land an exclusive interview with EQ2 Senior Producer Dave Georgeson.There, you can find his thoughts about what F2P will mean to EQ2.
Dave “SmokeJumper” Georgeson has followed up today’s big news with a blog post over on the Station Blog on what we can expect at Fan Faire, the future of the EverQuest II Extended (F2P) server, and some hints about what’s coming in updates surrounding the Destiny of Velious expansion. You can read his post on the Station Blog here.
There will be a lot of reactions in the coming days in response to the announcement.
I’ve been surprised how many have had positive reactions to the speculation here and on EQ2Flames who think F2P on a separate server, or for levels 1-50 are a good idea to bring in new players and then convert them to a Subscription account. And no doubt there are many who feel that any opportunity for people to “buy” progress threatens the moral center of character advancement in this game.
We’ve got a survey here on EQ2Wire that you may like to fill out. But before you fill out this survey, we would REALLY prefer if you read the EverQuest II Extended FAQ. It answers dozens of questions about this new service, exactly what form it will take, what you get for your money, and when it will start testing.
THERE ARE NO CHANGES COMING TO SUBSCRIPTION SERVERS
So now that you’ve read all that, check out the survey…
Where there’s smoke, sometimes there really is a fire.
During a Stratics E3 interview in June, Dave “SmokeJumper” Georgeson, then-new Senior Producer for EverQuest II was asked point blank: Will EverQuest II would be transitioning to a F2P setup as Lord of the Rings Online did in June? His response has been thoroughly dissected and analyzed:
The current subscription model isn’t going to change. The people that are playing the game as it stands right now really like the way it is. They don’t want us to sell items for power in the marketplace. They want to be able to earn their way through and achieve things on their own. They don’t really want people to be able to get ahead with their wallet. So the existing business that we have right now is not going to change. If we were to do something outside of it, it would be completely separate.
Most pundits in the MMO industry interpreted this as a flat denial, but not EQ2Wire!
At first glance, this seemed to shut the door on F2P in EverQuest II in the future. However, careful consideration of the words “current subscription model“, “existing business…is not going to change” and “do something outside of it…would be completely separate” seemed to leave a crack open for the possibility of completely isolated servers being established for F2P on the same model as Bazaar and Vox.
Today we’ve learned that SOE will, in fact, be introducing a standalone EverQuest II Free-to-Play service.
There is a lot of information to digest in today’s announcement, but if you take nothing else from today’s news, remember these two key points:
NO CHANGES are being made to EverQuest II Subscription servers or services.
The NEW EverQuest II Free-to-Play Server(s) are a completely independent service which will have their own Forums, Support site, Launcher, and Marketplace.
Dave “SmokeJumper” Georgeson, EQ2’s Senior Producer, has brought us a surprising announcement that EverQuest II is adding a totally separate Free-to-Play service.
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.
Early birds trying out Game Update 57 on the Test and Test Copy servers have encountered an intriguing error message when they try to purchase something from the Broker. (don’t be alarmed by my ProfitUI broker window, it’s the message in the lower right that is worth a second look):
You must upgrade to at least a Gold membership in order to purchase items from the broker.