EQ Next Landmark Founder’s Pack

EQN-Landmark-Founders-PackI was genuinely shocked yesterday when I came home to a bunch of people shouting “DID YOU GO TRAILBLAZER?!”  I had absolutely no idea that SOE was planning a Founder’s Pack program.  I shouldn’t have been surprised at all, though, because this form of  early cash generation has become almost a norm in the digital video game industry.

Usually this type of program is done by smaller studios kickstarting or looking to help fund their project.  Since SOE is neither, I can’t help but salute the marketing genius of it all.  They’re making a MMORPG set to launch god knows how many years from now.  Somewhere along the way they decided to launch a dev tool turned “game” (Landmark) that they are using as (1) a source of revenue, (2) a hype machine, and (3) a way for players to actually help build the game.

Of course Landmark will be monetized naturally from a F2P model, which would bring in additional revenue, but why stop there?  Sell access to the Alpha and Beta versions of the game!  I just wish I came up with the idea myself.  It’s like quadruple dipping the revenue stream.


Knowing exactly what they’re doing didn’t stop me.  I bought the Trailblazer pack with little thought.  I get to play on or before February 28th, get a ton of stuff it would take weeks to earn, get some neat exclusives, and somehow feel like I’m apart of an imaginary elite club.  Again, I wish I came up with the idea. I really don’t even feel bad at all about buying my way into alpha.  Maybe I should?

Maybe I should feel ashamed that as a professional marketer I’m susceptible to such tactics, but it all boils down to value.  I find value in the Trailblazer pack, and apparently so do a lot of other people.  According to a tweet from Smed, Trailblazer pack is outselling the others 10-1.

I’ll be there day one with bells on ready to strike out once again in Norrath — this time to claim part of the world as my own.  Which pack did you buy?

  • I will be waiting until after Christmas, but I am pretty sure I will end up with the Explorer pack.

  • That’s another aspect of these types of deals. Despite being months away, and saying nothing of time limitations, I feel a weird urgency like I’ll miss out if I don’t buy one right away.

  • I’m mad keen to see what EQNext is like, but I’m not going to pay money to get into a beta test. No sir. If I don’t luck out and get an invite for signing up as a potential tester, I’ll see it when the F2P launch happens.

  • wasnt Landmark supposed to be released this year and eq next the next year?
    we are at 13 november so the alpha stage of landmark should start…today!
    or they changed the release date and i dont know it?

  • TheCrow:

    Yes, in the first announcement of EQN, and EQNL, Smed stated that EQNL would release by the end of this year. It looks like they’re pushing ‘live’ by about three months. Kind of to be expected, these things happen. Still, with my shiny new Trailblazer pack, I’m looking forward to an early peek at the game once they go into Alpha!

  • I find it extremely difficult to justify paying money for a F2P game. If $100 got you the full game, I’d consider it. When the full shop is implemented, what you’re getting for your $100 probably isn’t 10% of what they’ll sell. Not for me.

  • @Jenks: Very valid point. I think deep down I justify it by knowing that I’m supporting a franchise I love.

    @Fidjit: Still their biggest problem by far. I’ve been saying all along that they aren’t doing a good enough job separating EQ Next from EQ Next Landmark. The names should never have been so similar, and there should be a very clear chart showing the differences and identify EXACTLY what Landmark is and isn’t.

  • It could just be that they’re bad at PR, which would be unfortunate but unsurprising.

    However, I worry that the reason they’re being so vague about what Landmark is and how it ties into EQN is because they don’t actually know. The entire project seems very early in development. Most of the info they’ve released is fairly high-concept. I think they may just be trying to figure it all out as they go along.

  • I would never pay for alpha/beta access, I always try to get into the beta of a game I’m interested in but I look at it as a way to play a free demo. There have been plenty of sucky betas that saved me from purchasing a game I would have hated.

  • People asking what is exactly and the difference with EQ next.
    with EQ landmark you create buildings and get resources (like minecraft) and the best building creations of the server SOE will use them in EQ Next.
    EQ Next is the MMORPG game.

    So EQ Landmark is like Starcraft map creator and EQ Next is like starcraft game.

    If you dont like to build houses all the day dont pay for the access to EQ Landmark and wait for EQ next.

  • This development, along with Star Citizen, could have extraordinarily profound implications for the game industry. Right now, there are basically two price points in video gaming: AAA games and budget/indie games, the former usually costing $40-70 and the latter costing between $5-30. In MMOs, you have the sub games, the buy to play games, and the free to play games. The expansion of the free to play/buy to play and budget/indie game market is also a fairly new phenomenon — as recently as a few years ago the VAST majority of games fell into that $40-70 price point range.

    So the general thinking in the industry is/was that games had to be right around that price, and the best way to make money is to sell in volume. As a result, the vast majority of games are designed to appeal to the widest possible audience. This is the WoW phenomenon — make a game that is appealing to as many people as possible.

    The result is an industry where basically everyone is trying to be McDonalds or Wal-mart, with budget games and free to play games acting as the “value menu”.

    What SOE and RSI are demonstrating is that there are certain types of games that may not appeal to as broad an audience, but the audience they DO appeal to is willing to pay FAR more than the standard price point.

    Based on early numbers, Star Citizen was pulling in an average of about $65 per backer. Now, that number has increased to an average of $91 per backer. Considering the lowest pledge is only $5 and the cheapest package which gets you a copy of the game is $30, a substantial number of their backers are likely pledging hundreds of dollars.

    EQNL is another great example. People are rushing to fork over $100 to get early access to a free to play metagame. Like you said Keen, they see value in the package and feel passionate about the franchise just as Star Citizen backers feel passionate about the space sim genre.

    The message this sends to the industry is clear: everybody does not need to be McDonalds/WalMart. There are people who will pay to go to a fancy steakhouse or even slam down hundreds of dollars for a Michelin-starred meal, and the same is true of the video game industry. There are franchises and genres that have fans who are so devoted as to happily drop ben franklins on a *promise* of a future game that might be years in the making.

    The implications for the gaming industry could be profound. It’s absolutely not going to stop people from trying to be WoW or Call of Duty or GTA — after all, WalMart and McDonalds make money hand over fist — but it could really result in a massive diversification.

    That’s good news for those of us who love games that don’t just appeal to the broadest audience possible … but the scary part is that we may soon find ourselves regularly playing $100-500 for games while the masses get their jollies on $5 i-phone apps.

  • Bit of a sad use of the wallet vote, but to each his own. If SOE can pretend its an indie studio and get $100 out of its core for something like alpha, more power to them I guess. Mostly surprised at you though Keen, I thought you had moved past the blind hype/hope phase (especially now that money is involved, and not a small amount at that).

  • It’s hard to be cynical when someone shows something truly new and fun looking.

    Being a fan of the EverQuest franchise is easy. I patronize companies who provide products I like. I like EverQuest — a lot.