December 16, 2005

MO5 - The SOE effect... part II... MMORPG madness

Mouthing Off 5

If you play Everquest 2 currently, I would quit. Why? Because the SOE effect is going full tilt and the ole’ captain over at SOE, John Smedley, has lost the lock to his spigot: err, mouth. Read the clown’s: err John Smedley’s new interview over at Gamespot.

To quote the clown:
"One thing that I love about our company is that there is no 'quit' in this company. It's about making sure that we have pride in what we do. People within the company feel so much pride in this game that they want it to beat the crap out of World of Warcraft. That's something we feel very passionate about. We know we are capable of making the best stuff out there, and I'm proud to say that with the changes we're making in Galaxies, I think we're headed in the right direction."

They love your company so much that the Star Wars Galaxies team has lost numerous leads, developers, and technicians?

They are so dedicated that they somehow are going to rebuild a 2.5 year old game into a World of Warcraft killer? You can “want to beat the crap out of World of Warcraft”, but I would think it a bit silly to actually believe you can. It is said though, confidence is a key to success.

Enough about Star Wars Galaxies, let us get back to Everquest 2. As I have previously defined the SOE effect I will connect some dots. In April ’05 Star Wars Galaxies underwent the Combat Upgrade to mixed reviews and a slight murmur in the crowd. Players stayed and lived with the changes because it was not GAME ALTERING or DRAMATIC. Fast forward to November and the BOMBSHELL known as the NGE was dropped inside a two week period.

The numbers are not in or they are very closely guarded, but the word around the Internet is that the NGE has killed Star Wars Galaxies. Actually, effectively killed would be a better statement. No amount of marketing or positive PR spin will sway a large group of new players to pick up Star Wars Galaxies sans a complete re-launch under a new name.

Now, back to Everquest 2. EQ2 already had a major revision to it's combat system and class balance. Once again, there are some murmurs in the player base about the changes. People are still playing though. However, what will happen when SOE decides that the game isn’t Everquesty enough?

Smedley claimed that their sandbox approach didn’t work with Star Wars because it wasn’t Star Warsy enough. Everquest 2 isn’t a sandbox game, but it’s no Everquest either. SOE so far has swayed from making a better Everquest all the way to making change after change to open the game up towards what I like to call “the World of Warcraft player”. Not just casual gamers, but gamers that like to solo MORE than group. Obviously World of Warcraft has found A LOT of gamers that fit this mold.

If SOE is so CONFIDENT that they can turn Star Wars Galaxies into a World of Warcraft killer then what do you think they will believe they can do with Everquest 2, which is still rumored to be short of pulling a profit due to high development costs. Is Everquest 2 in for a major shake up because it somehow doesn’t fit the mold that SOE believes it should?

If 300,000+ accounts at SWG’s peak wasn't good enough then what is the threshold for Everquest 2 before SOE mandates it be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up? Did SOE learn with Everquest 2 that sequels don’t work in the MMO market and did that scare away the idea of a Star Wars Galaxies 2 implementing their new features? I don’t know about everyone else, but it seems like the SOE effect is getting worse.

With SOE’s parent company, Sony, already hurting in the public relations department with the DRM fiasco, will they be willing to take any more negative press as the story of the Star Wars Galaxies NGE debacle starts crossing into the New York Times?

Everquest 2 players: get while the getting is good. Don't say "It will never happen", because it already has. As much as you may hate the idea, you can't deny the obvious trend that SOE has set. How many more games do they need to kill to prove it?

Update: 3 May, 2009 - Edited post and applied labels.