Another one bites the dust… sorta. It’s the snowball effect in action. One company takes their game “Free to play” (cough BS cough) and others follow because they don’t want to miss out. We’re seeing that here with SoE creating a “Free to play” option for EQ2 called “Everquest II Extended”. You know that I hate this F2P garbage, so overall my opinion on this decision will be negative. However, there are a few things to point out which SoE does differently from Turbine.
SoE is opening up entirely new servers for this “experiment”.
“Think of it as a completely separate product offering. If you had a Station Pass… EQII Extended is another game in our portfolio, kind of. Even though it’s the same content, for all intents and purposes you play one or the other (or you could play both if you wanted to).” – Dave Georgeson [Source]
This is absolutely the biggest difference. Turbine turned their entire game upside down in order to bring their game to a new market. SoE is at least respecting their players somewhat by leaving them be with what they’ve spent 6 years working on. I’ll tip my hat to the idea that they’re wanting to make this come off as an entirely different game.
Looking at their Membership Matrix, it’s clearly outlined what you do and do not have access to. Where they’ve confused me though is with the gold membership. It’s the same price as a subscription to the regular game yet you have to pay for more races and a level cap increase. Maybe they’re thinking that you save some money not buying the software or something? Still doesn’t make sense to me because if you’re willing to pay $14.99 per month then why not just play the regular game? It’s cheaper to play the normal game!
Clearly the “Extended” servers will be ones where the rich get richer. I don’t expect their communities to be anything like the normal EQ2 community either because of how fragmented the players will be. Yet, at the same time, this is a “new” server and that brings with it popularity. I really do expect this “experiment”, as Dave Georgeson calls it, to fail over time and it all comes down to that membership matrix.
It needs to be “more free”. If you’re going to cash shop people, and they are since they say “You can’t buy the best items, but you can buy good items…” and even mention “self-rez potions”, then you might as well open the flood gates. As it stands, players get to buy power. They’ll dance around saying it in their FAQ and interviews but it’s there for anyone who knows the game to see.
Bad idea. Decent execution of a bad idea though. I don’t like F2P because 1) it’s a scam and 2) it’s bad for the ‘game’ part of the game but if there were ever a more widely acceptable way of creating “Free to play” games it would be to release a F2P option alongside the real thing. Yeah, it’ll fragment the crap out of your community but oh well. That’s the price you pay to keep the dogs and bay and still have a game.
One of the key questions to ask right now is just how much that Bronze membership for “Free” will get you. If it’s like LotRo you’ll get about an hour of play time before you have to start paying. It already looks like a rip off to me since you’ll be paying more to play for “Free” than if you actually played the real game.