SmokeJumper (EQ2 Sr. Producer) proposed a winback campaign of granting returning players instant level 90′s if they buy DoV with hopes that the community at large would provide feedback. I have gone back and forth on this idea with other games. Getting back into a game like EQ2 is daunting.
The scope of the game (EQ2) is so much greater than a game like WoW and the process of going from 1-90 or even 50-90 (wherever one left off) is a little more than I can really stomach thinking about; it’s the main reason I really can’t see myself going back. Yet, when I think about it, having a max level EQ2 character causes me to pause and think about what I would do — run raids?
The #1 reason I played EQ2 was for the adventure of living in the world they created and experiencing the immersiveness of moving through zone to zone — yet at the same time that type of experience is vastly diminished by the lack of other players around you doing the same.
On one hand it would diminish the greatest aspect of EQ2. On the other hand it would probably increase the number of people playing. As far as a successful winback, this would probably be one. It may cause a few issues with other players feeling jipped out of what they earned or even cause segregation with not allowing any instant-level 90′s in your groups, but that’s truly secondary in nature to the real problem.
Returning players being far behind is really not an issue in WoW like it is in EQ2 because everything is so dumbed down. It takes, literally, two weeks or maybe three to hit the cap and you’re raiding within a week or two after that. You’ll have missed out on nothing in the world save for a few outdated instances and/or raids. I feel like it’s different in EQ2. It will take much longer to level and you’ll miss out on a lot more if you power-level. Since there are far fewer players in EQ2 it’s also a much greater ghost-down and lonely experience than in WoW.
Vertical expansion is the issue, albeit one that is almost irrelevant to this topic since it’s not like we can change history here. If games would stop shooting upwards and expand more horizontally then a winback campaign of this nature would not be necessary.
A few points worth mulling over:
- Do current players get to make instant 90′s? Sounds fair, but at the same time it’s like poisoning the whole well instead of just someone’s cup. It turns into an action game at this point.
- This would, if it goes live, confirm that EQ2 is an end-game experience just like WoW and as a result would diminish the entire 1-89 experience as meaningless. It would further propogate this nonsensical idea that the end-game is where the game should begin and that the leveling experience is just a hassle. That is the -wrong- mindset to be in and a huge reason why this industry is struggling. The ‘world’ and the ‘living in it’ experience are going away for a quicker action-like game.
- Launch a new server where this can only happen, that way everyone there is equal. Yet, this separates the community yet again after it already happened a great deal with EQ2x.
- Just lose the restrictions on some of the more appealing level 90 perks. While a nice idea, it penalizes those who earned their way to the top to use them.
It’s a good idea to give people max level characters, but is it the right idea? It could be the right idea, but for the wrong reasons. It can help current players, and also hurt them. It’s a double-edged sword. Perhaps the unfortunate reality is that this is too little, too late, for a flawed model of such extreme vertical expansion.
Better idea: Give people who buy DoV and remain subscribed the earliest possible access to EQ3′s beta events as well as all current subscribers as part of a veteran reward.