Sony Online Entertainment deserves enormous praise for what they’ve done recently. I’m not even talking about any of their games. Let’s set the games themselves aside completely and just talk about the way in which I feel like they are taking the MMORPG (and gaming) industry to an entirely new level of communication, customer service, marketing, and just… this crazy sense of being real people working on games they love.
Every single day I can go on Twitter and see a dozen or more SOE staff tweeting about everything from what they are working on to being candid about problems they’ve encountered with a patch during downtime. When you tweet them, chances are they tweet you back. Even John Smedley, President of SOE, is on there actively engaging with the players, answering questions, and being helpful. Their forums are full of staff assisting players and communicating the processes they are going through. Seriously, Dave Georgeson tweeted at 2am that the devs finally left the building.
SOE is being really transparent. They bring down servers for an update and if something goes wrong they don’t just give the “sorry we’re working on it.” They say, “Turns out we screwed up something in the database that handles X and Y because of Z.” Heck, they recently decided to make a bold move and state EQN and EQN Landmark will be 64 bit only, and PS2 will be making the transition. Alpha testing Landmark has been one of the best real game testing experiences I’ve ever had.
They are doing outside of their games, in the real world, what I love doing IN their games: creating a community. They put on big events like the Year of EverQuest to create a bond between players and these properties. Yes, that’s marketing, but that’s okay. That’s the type of marketing I want. I want a company focused on delighting fans and creating memorable experiences they can share over a company trying to figure out how they can make a game look good in a CGI trailer.
SOE, thank you for reminding why I’ve been a loyal SOE customer since 1997, why I chose to be a founder for Landmark, and why I will be first in line to buy just about any product you announce in the future. You are setting the bar high, even for yourselves, but that’s what it takes to be great. I like the new SOE. Keep it up!