Feedback on EQ2’s Instant Level 90 ‘Winback’ idea

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  You’ll have missed out on nothing in the world save for a few outdated instances and/or raids.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.

  • Hmmm…thats a tough one but I think I can hash out how I feel about it.

    On one hand, I have often found myself thinking about getting back into a game that I have been away from for a long time. It feels like an overwhelming task sometimes when you look at all the changes and expansions and what have you. So yeah, I could see the appeal of being granted a max level character.

    On the other hand, how likely will I be to stick around long time after I’m just handed a max level toon? I know myself and I know I would feel no real attachment to my character. I wouldn’t have invested myself in it, would have no fond memories attached to him, etc…

    Since it nullifies the existence of 1-89 content I’m forced to ask myself is it really worth it to make a game into something it really isn’t, just to chase after an ex-girlfriend who never really loved you while your loyal current girlfriend sits home alone on a Saturday night?

    From the business side of it, I’m sure it will at least generate some revenue, which is more than what they would get by not doing it. They wont lose any subs over it because anyone who is still playing EQ2 after this long isn’t going to be driven off by something like this.

  • Rentable henchman to ease some of the pain of levelling alone or to fill out groups with missing healers/tanks.

  • It kind of reminds me of AoC’s free lvl 50…when you lvl a toon to 50 you get to create another toon that starts at 50, with gear a mount, the works.

    So I rolled a 50 DT to complement my ToS. Funny thing is, I got my ToS to 80 but the DT never hit 51. I felt no connection to him, had no idea how to play him. It felt like a bit of a waste.

    So for EQ2, why not an instant 90. A nice bonus for those who play the game. And for those who don’t…well…EQ2 is a rich mechanic. To jump in at 90? No thanks.

  • I find it funny how players as suddenly whining about this idea. Countless times you hear this conversation:

    1. “I’ve hit the level cap, what now? I’m quitting”
    2. “The game only begins at the end-game!”

    Where are those #2 people now?

    I still maintain the “end game” in MMOs are in fact the “END” of the game. You’re done and the developer added [cheap] repeatable content [like dailies] so you think there’s actually a game there.

    So if #2 were in fact true, that raiding,heroic dungeons, dailies and rep grinds are the “actual game” , then why do they care about this instant max level thing?

    There’s always been a “leveling game” and the “end game” and i believe most players enjoy the “leveling game” and either quit at the end of it or continue to validate their progress made. I think only a small % of players actually “like” the typical end-game [min/maxing gear grind gameplay] .

    It’s a catch 22, if you get a max level character , then #1 is going to happen…what will people do? You can be guarenteed that someone that rolls up a lvl 90 character is going to RAID! What else is he going to do? A casual player isn’t going to do it and then quit a few hours later is he?

    So what exactly does the hardcore raider players want then? They don’t want to sit in queues for a tank or healer, but they want to make everyone take weeks/months to level up a tank -just-so-they-can-raid- …how’s that for stupid logic?

  • They must be really desperate to get a few more months of subscription to do something that stupid.

  • I’m largely in agreement with silvertemplar, above. In most MMOs, and EQ2 is no exception, I feel that I’m pretty much done with a character once I hit the level cap. AAs can extend that, but really that’s another form of levelling anyway.

    Since about 2003 I’ve thought that the “end game” of MMOs is really a separate game altogether. The virtual world part in which you level your character up while travelling and exploring turns into something much more static and repetetive nce you hit max level. Whether it’s running raid dungeons on rotation to gear up and move to the next tier, or whether it’s linear progression through an expansion, or rep grind, or even competetive PvP, gameplay becomes an endless series of discrete events rather than a freeform ramble.

    I’d very much support some knd of portal system that hived max-level gameplay off onto a different server or even to a different game, like you leave your junior school at a certain age and move to the senior school. In that context, starting a new character at the level cap could work well.

    I love EQ2 and will be buying DOV just as soon as I’m done with Rift (which doesn’t look like being any time soon). My Station Access subscription isn’t going to be cancelled just because I’m not currently playing any SOE games so there’s no need to win me back, but if there was then a free level 90 character would be absolutely no incentive at all. For people who prefer “end game” content to levelling up, however, the reverse might well be true.

    On balance I’d be against having newly-minted level 90s just pop up at random across the Live servers as people bought DoV. It would just bring back all the old “you suck at tanking – what did you do, buy that Warriorr on Ebay?” angst. I wouldn’t at all be against some kind of system whereby they started on a separate server and transferred after a re-introductory re-orientation period, though.

  • I always thought this idea would work well in a game like Eve. With Eve they sell the idea that you can jump in to your ship, and do what you want.

    What they forget to tell you, is realistically its going to take a couple of years before you are even remotely close to the skill level of the core eve player base.

    That’s not to say you cant do everything in the game within a few weeks of play, but you just do it on a smaller scale.

    So imagine then if all players in EVE had the same amount of SP..

    Richest / biggest corps still win, as they have the ability to deck out new pilots with the best ships and weapons for war. So no real change here. Improvement however as newer players no-longer assigned to simple suicide runs or scouting.. they get real action as well!

    General PVP should improve, because players will no-longer feel they cant attack based on how much higher skill level the enemy player may be. No more high SP players ganking lowbies?

    Being on the same level as all other players really does give you the “jump in and do anything” feel. Obviously the real issue then becomes the economy. Would ship and weapon costs skyrocket? I think i would rather “work” towards affording that ship or weapon upgrade i want, rather than play offline for a few years building the skill to use them.

    On one hand i can instantly begin doing missions to earn money, on the other hand i could band together and plan a PVP hit to take some big money assets.

    For EVE (and only eve specifically) i cant see how this model would not work really. The biggest problem is it would make the very elitist top level player crowd probably rage quit because they are not able to sit aloft there hills of SP anymore.

  • @Fenlock: That’s the same argument, in a nut shell, that raiders have in games like WoW. The “Give it to me now” over the “We put time into this”, type of players. It’s not that you’ve been put on an equal playing field with them. It’s that you didn’t have to work for it like they did to get there. I can completely understand that sentiment, and heavily agree with it.

    Why should I have to put days upon weeks of work into something only for joe average to get it on login? Doesn’t seem fair from that perspective, now does it? That’s the distinction. I could care less that you’re as good as me. Or even better. It’s that you didn’t have to work for what you have like I did that irks me. (Obviously not YOU, but you get the meaning of it).

  • @Shadrah: true enough mate, but in EVE (and i said specifically eve) it’s supposed to be a sandbox. Jump in and do what you want… The old playing offline for 2-3 years argument with that game to get to the point the longest serving players are at just makes it a time-grind.

    I see no reason why the player base could not be “equal” and run missions, explore and PVP for better items and upgrades.

  • @Shadrah: I have also come across the same argument in games I have played and we have discussed it with our playing group. We have had opinions from both ends and I represent the end ‘Who cares’. I am playing games for my personal enjoyment and if another player playing same game is getting something different way than I am, it is not my concern.

    When LOTRO changed to free-to-play, there were lot of discussion on forums about how people can buy something in the store right away when others had to work for it. After some time I realized that to most of these people main issue was actually the item, not the experience in getting the item. If you had something that was rare or required lots of work, then it gave more value to the item. Now when it would be quickly available to all, the value of the item and work they had done was undervalued. It took sometime to understand this but I still wonder what’s the issue in here.

    Instead of being jealous what your neighbor has, you can just concentrate on your own stuff and enjoy the game in itself. You did the work to acquire the item and you enjoyed hopefully the process. If others have that item, it still doesn’t take away anything you did.

    “We put time into this”-players don’t always understand the situation that they are richer than others in the currency of time. When players who don’t have time want to make their characters better, only option was earlier to donate more time to the game and for quite many this is not realistic option. Therefore game companies have made, at least in my opinion, reasonable adjustment and started to give people option to substitute gametime with money.

    I know that many here probably have some issues against this but you can always imagine the opposite situation where everything worth getting is only available through money instead of time. In this kind of game, those who have money are privileged. In MMORPGs so far, players with time have been privileged. I’m all for democracy.

  • It does take much longer to level in EQ2 (or so it seems). I got to the mid-20’s and quit the game. Getting to 90 was just too daunting.

    As for people feeling jilted by someone being able to make a max level? This person still wouldn’t have half of what the person who leveled did. Yes, they would be able to raid, but they wouldn’t have the collections or the rep or the housing necessarily. They wouldn’t have a religion or whatever it is as well.

    So would this bring me back? I enjoyed the game for the 2 months I played last fall (my first time Norrath as well), but I would feel I had missed out without the things I listed above. For me, MMORPG’s are about the RPG and building a character, not just getting to max level (my main is still in their 30’s in Rift). Yes, I can go back and earn those things, but if I’m going to do that, I might as well level.

    And yes, I found the leveling to be more difficult in EQ2 (as in slower). I wish I had joined when released.

  • I’ve considered going back to EQ2 alot lately. THe thing is I want to play my old character adn I do’t remember the account name or email it is under. I wouldn’t do the instant level… but I understand both sides. It would get new people playing but at the same time those who have been loyal customers feel cheated.

  • I say start at 70. I loved the raids and instances of EoF and you can jump right into the solo stuff of RoK. I think alot of vets would mentor down to do those instances again, for the missed AA if nothing else.

    Maybe they could add a small AA bonus to everyone in the group if someone completes a quest? That would also get vets to run the old stuff.


  • You did have a better idea at the end. My thoughts exactly. The only reason I sub to either eq or eq2 is the promise I am part of eq next.