Good News for EverQuest Marketing

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Two days ago Omeedd Dariani left Sony Online Entertainment. Omeedd was the Senior Brand Manager of the EverQuest franchise. I mean no disrespect to Omeedd as a person — none at all — but I am very glad to see this happen. You may recall my ‘Dear SOE‘ post from only 14 days ago where I basically laid it all out to SOE that I wasn’t happy with the direction they are taking the EverQuest franchise’s marketing. I didn’t want to point out names of the people I thought were to blame (though I did point out people I was okay with… read between the lines)… I’m now okay saying a big part of my problem has been Omeedd.

Here’s a quote from his post on Reddit where he explains his reason for leaving:

I chose to leave because my direct supervisors didn’t support the community-first marketing approach we’ve taken on the EQ Next/Landmark teams.

Which community? The streaming community? The real “community” hasn’t been represented at all in Landmark or even EQ Next. If you’re not an avid chat user or a member of the Omeedd fan club then you probably feel like I do which is: (1) Ignored, (2) Frustrated by a lack of real information about the game(s)’ development, (3) Wondering why the huge drop in maturity level, (4) Craving some good old-fashioned MMO marketing where mechanics, lore, and even nostalgia drive hype.

I don’t know why I feel this way, but I started to feel insulted by SOE’s focus on creating an inner-circle of community members. There has been a huge sense of favoritism and a tie to people like the live streamers that has left a severely bitter taste in my mouth. This “SOE Insiders” program needs to be stopped immediately. Having to watch other streamers to get in-game items, having to have one foot in-game and another foot out to participate in this “community” has been quite ugly. The antics of promoting streamers and everything but the actual game will not be missed, and I hope SOE takes notice and continues to clean up.

I’ll say it again: I want SOE to focus on their forums again. I want a huge shift back to their own website with regular updates. Get me excited about EVERQUEST not just some guy waving his arms and drinking scotch on a live stream. I want EverQuest blog posts on a weekly basis revealing one mechanic at a time. You market an MMO by slowly releasing information and conveying it with a story and an explanation around it that reveals a bigger picture. This is elementary stuff. It’s how you properly excite this market without unsubstantiated hype.

When thinking about the EverQuest franchise, I should be thinking about how I can explore Norrath, become one of the characters I see in concept art and how my adventure will unfold; I shouldn’t think of Omeedd or Twitch. Here’s hoping that this means good things for the REAL community of the EverQuest franchise.

  • How interesting. Blizzard is doing the same thing with the WoW expansion pack. They’re ignoring the beta forums nearly completely, and have very few site updates or posts to update the community. They intermittently communicated via Twitter only, but that stopped in the past month or so as they crunch for release. They aren’t accepting feedback from beta testers.

    Predictably players, being emotionally invested in the game as opposed to professionally invested, are deeply upset by this.

  • The problem is that SOE has, in the past, been very forum-centric, to the point of letting their main web site sit for ages with out of date information while you can only really tell what is going on by finding that dev post 17 pages into a discussion thread on a semi-related topic. They have been lucky on the EQII front because somebody like Feldon over at EQII Wire actually tracks all this stuff and distills out the real info so that it gets read by more than the very small percentage of the community that actually visit the forums.

    The whole “you need to keep up with the forums to know what is going on” is all fail in my opinion, because it caters only to a very specific segment of the population.

    That said, SOE deciding that they are going to drop that focus and hid gems and nuggets of information on half a dozen social media channels is fail multiplied. I chuckle at the forum dwellers outrage when SOE does something only on Facebook or Twitch, but mostly because I see them now feeling my own pain. I want news on the web site with an RSS feed, not buried in the noise and trash in the forums, and certainly not hidden in a Twitch stream or on a Facebook page or in a link on Twitter.

  • @Wilhelm: I think they need to have their forums be a buzzing place of discussion. All announcement or major game-related news, releases, or facts should indeed be on their main website with an easy to find RSS.

  • Forums still suffer from similar problems only favoring good writers or telegenic twitchers. Its hard to be community based once you reach a certain scale, your community is just too big. There is no real solution to this problem, there PR department just has to keep all fronts open and try not to alienate people as best as possible.

    The traditional way is done for a reason. Everyone might complain about it, but its the least of all evils.

  • Community is /not/ too big in beta. Even WoW’s expansion beta is a very manageable size.

    There are tons of solutions, too, and none of them are groundbreaking.

    First, you can address it through technology, voting topics and individual posts up/down like Reddit so the quality bubbles to the top and committing to engaging with the top topics every week. No MMO has done this yet. And no, the voting in the blizzard forums doesn’t work that way, because each person has unlimited votes and it doesn’t impact list order.

    Second, you can address it organizationally. Basically, you split up your feedback targets by class or gametype (wizards, PvP, crafting, etc) and let players nominate a “council” to represent them for each. Then you have forums for those councils to present their collated/organized/constructive feedback. The forums are publicly readable, but only council members can post. DAoC did this.

  • “That said, SOE deciding that they are going to drop that focus and hid gems and nuggets of information on half a dozen social media channels is fail multiplied.”

    SOE being SOE.

  • Oooof, body blow.

    It’s interesting to read an old school EQ fan who still has passion for the franchise. I played EQ1 from 99 to 04, and then again from 2011 to 2013 on EQ Mac. There was no bigger fan, but I haven’t felt like I was “part of the community” since 04. All these videos, polls, etc. I can tell they’re not for me. During the initial EQN reveal, there was a lot of “Hey old EQ1 players! Let’s all get back together and do it again!” I haven’t felt that for a single minute after that reveal. It was all horseshit. I don’t know how many people are on the EQN team that were on the EQ team, but it sure doesn’t feel like very many.

    I’m going to try EQN, but it’s not being developed for me, and I’ve made peace with that.

  • I found their discussions insulting. It was just a way for them to tell us what they had decided. And it semed at every turn they were becoming more childish and themepark.

  • “Forums” are a foreign concept to the new generation of gamers. While i and many other grew up with forums and understand how great they can be, trying to get younger members to use them is painful. If it’s not on Twitch or Twitter, they don’t care. I’m trying not to make group generalizations but this is what i see on a daily basis.

    This is the playerbase SOE is trying to attract. Us old timers and the players that built the EQ franshice are not the focus of their attention and certainly not the base they’re building their game for.

  • And here I just thought SOE had stopped giving us anything on EQN and just kept feeding us “non information” about EQNL because they have seen what has happened to the last several AAA MMO titles to be released. Guild Wars 2 and Wildstar both cross what they had announced would be the key game play archetype’s that EQN “will be focused on”. Action Combat and the Lack of a “true” trinity. Neither one of these concepts has held player interest over the long haul. Wildstar is already floundering only several months in. Guild Wars 2 has lacked a cohesive “F2P” strategy and its action combat/trinity-less combat systems has driven away players.

    I hope that Omeed’s removal from the company allows SOE to move forward and give us a more transparent information flow. However, this is SOE. The company who likes to promise a lot and give very little. We are STILL waiting for that PS4 version of Planetside. Instead they shifted the hype to H1Z1.

    I own Founders of EQNL. I bought a new PC and haven’t even bothered to re-install. The lack of information on EQN has left me with little hope we will see the game before late 2016 (if not later) at this point.

  • Why are there no alarm bells going off for those of us who really do want to see an EQ1 sequel. Any objective analysis of what they have shown us about Everquest Next cries anything but EQ1. They boldly stated at a prior fan faire that they “knew the differences between eq1 and eq2. And are focusing more on eq1.” That statement is an incredible lie given what they are now showing us.

    I know everyone has their favorite time and expansion for Everquest. For me it was the Shadows of Luclin. That era had it all. Deep, multiple storylines, include Ssraeshza Temple, Sanctus Seru, and Katta Castrum. It had deep faction that really rewarded the player who took the time to learn how the various races were intertwined into the storyline. The potentially rewarding but also very dangerous Umbral Plains; the zone where if the mob could see you, it aggro’d. Vex Thal for raiders. The Nexus and the Bazaar. And so much more. Crafting was valuable, some new quests were sprinkled in for crafters, rockhoppers in the Dawnshroud Peaks were highly valued for their various hides. The Tenebrous Mountains, which included the very interesting scripting of Valdanov Zevfeer. There was really a couple of years of exploration in that expansion alone. No instances, no quest hubs, no hand-holding. Just lots of challenging, dangerous, and thus immensely rewarding gameplay.

    Where is any resemblance to this in Everquest Next? There is none. I think they are so weighed down by what appears to be a mandate to ensure a game that is PS4 friendly, that they will never be able to design a truly epic MMORPG designed to last another 15 years.

    This is the sad truth and I think it is truly a terrible shame.

  • Great thoughts/points guys — thank you for your comments. This is the stuff SOE should be looking at. Real opinions from people who have been, still are, and gladly would be part of the EverQuest community.

  • Yeah, their marketing campaign definitely put me off, or at the very least disengaged me. I chalked it up to being stuck in my ways, but it wasn’t reeling me in, regardless. Maybe it didn’t need to – EQ is already in my blood – but I’d much rather go about it the old way: periodically checking out an updated website, daydreaming character possibilities over the blurbs of class descriptions and pics of playable races, revving up my imagination for adventures to come. I’m not suggesting that would work as a marketing campaign, I have no idea about that, that’s just how I work. I can pretty clearly remember the old EQ website before the game launched. I used to go there just to listen to the music, heh.

    I actually saw some credence in SOE’s talk about new mechanics and new experiences and all that. I can say that because EQ, to me, wasn’t an experience driven by specific gameplay mechanics. They were good, and I liked them, but the most important thing about them was that they all served the greater goal of creating a virtual world. All the gamey crap and derivations that have come to define the genre all came later. Before any of us knew “how to play a MMORPG” it was just a game about unpredictable adventure on a grand scale. No intended paths or chosen ones or inevitable outcomes. Just a guy, an unproven nobody, stepping out into a vast world of possibilities. Go have an adventure.

    That’s what lasts about EQ for me. I mean, you can’t separate the game from its mechanics, and it’s not like those specific mechanics perfectly realized that goal anyways. However, I think that even the partial success of striving for that goal resulted in something far more meaningful than most of EQ’s successors, which strove for something else entirely.

    So yeah, I can see the merit in taking a significantly different mechanical approach to the old dream of Norrath, especially in light of how familiar and stubborn we’ve become with the way MMORPGs currently work. I can even get excited about that idea. But that will probably never happen by chasing trends. I don’t know that’s what the development team is doing, and I hope it’s not, but that’s how the marketing/community campaign made it seem: trends, all about trends. Look at us, whatever is cool right now we’re on it! Right at the forefront! Meh, that’s useless to me.

    It’s actually the more subtle decisions that undermine my hope for EQN the most, far more than weird class structure or horizontal progression or any of that stuff. Subtler things that make me feel like they don’t want this EQ to be my EQ. The music. When they did their big unveiling last year, I was so ready to hear those 8 iconic notes drift through the theme music. Somewhere. Anywhere. They just weren’t there. I still don’t understand why. Or the gods. I mean, I never even knew all that much about most of them, but it’s one of those things that just felt fundamental. At what point does “reimagining” really just mean a different world entirely with a familiar name slapped on it for branding purposes? EverQuest wasn’t supposed to just mean “fantasy game made by SOE.” There’s a lot more to it than that. To me, anyways.

    Eh, just some thoughts on the matter.

  • I was going to write what Ald already did above. We are not the target audience for their new game. I like to check blogs, forums, offical game websites for my info but that is a thing of the past. They want the younger generation so that they can follow the EQ brand over the next few decades. SOE is making the assumption that the older generation is already going to buy the game if they are fans.

  • Good news! I couldn’t stand this guy and his social media horseshit parade. If anyone feels like reading the rants of an Omeed “Twitch/Twitter is the future of gaming” disciple, read through some of the 3000 posts of one Dygz Briarthorn on eqnexus or the official forums. If they are making MMOs to please people like that, well, I’m going back to D&D fulltime.