As Monday dawns we are waiting to see how this … thing will fall out. Having played and enjoyed EQ2 since just before Christmas now, I’m interested, I’m more than interested, I’m much more than interested. From outside the corporate box there is little to be seen of what went on within to occasion this nonsense, and speculation isn’t my thing, much. The recognisable signs (insisting on a sub model, making sell-deals) point to Sony having a need for money, which could be extrapolated to an unhealthy bottom line. But the signs could also be extrapolated to just plain milking the playerbase. Greed is so acceptable nowadays that that would not be a surprise either.
The lynchpin of the deal is who gets what money, when and how - and I don’t know that part, heres my guess: Sony seems to want money so presumably they get a financial injection. ProSiebenSat1 appears to wish to grow and diversify. On that in-my-head model it would all make commercial sense. The current value of the playerbase might not even factor in, since ProSiebenSat1 has its own cash generating methods which I am sure they will not hesitate to apply if the deal allows them to do so. It also has it’s own customers and means of gaining more. It sure as heck doesn’t have a game like EQ2 on its playlist - so I can see the attraction. Sony has a new game it wishes to expend it’s energies on so EQ2 is likely to be an unwanted burden more than anything at this time – apart from the money it still generates of course (bit like WoW really).
I’m not one of those tedious people who has to be right all the time – it must take so much effort ugh – but I think the shoddiness of what has been dealt isn’t fully known yet. As I understand it this deal runs out after some years, and there’s a glimmer of hope there. Presumably the parent company won’t be wanting a rundown mess returning to the fold. What they might not mind – and this is the danger, to my mind - is a playerbase shriven of any notions of entitlement, docile, accustomed to a more mendacious payment model. If it works in Europe, expect more EQ2 sell-offs.
Losing the vocal veterans might well be a desired outcome, leaving the field open to capitalise freely in the future – pay 2 win models etc. However I doubt anyone involved in the deal expected that to happen so soon and so dramatically. Time and income would have been required to build up a malleable and profitable new playerbase in Europe. If people have cancelled subs in large numbers now, that would be a spanner in the works right enough.
Also, the reaction to all this in the US is what is most likely to cause someone to get cold feet. European players are probably expected to be replaced and therefore pretty much discounted (though not expected to leave this fast)(that’s what I think). I do also think Sony expected US players to shrug and think “well it’s not going to affect me”. Gamers aren’t drooling delighted fools anymore though, we’ve learned stuff along the way. It’s occurred to just about everyone that raids, guilds and servers are going to be chewed by this.
I am sure outcomes are being weighed right at this moment – a depleted income from subs seems likely, will the increased income from a la carte purchases be enough to offset that? The publicity is bad (but hardly appalling, most of it is currently forum-bound with the media slow to pick up on the story, and reluctant to dig at it) - is the publicity bad enough to warrant an about turn or will a few morsels of comfort do the trick.
EQ2 still suffers somewhat from the captive audience syndrome – there isn’t a game like it out there. Not with housing. Maybe they are banking on that to keep income flowing. I have this funny vision of 100,000 angry EQ2 decorators descending on Wurm (mainly because I’m planning a Wurm post after this one)….. “what do you mean I can’t RESIZE this chair? hey where did my gold candelabra go… decay? decay????? How to make drapes, anyone?” – it would be very funny indeed and probably give poor Rolf a heart attack, but you get my point I’m sure. There’s… Vanguard, oh wait that’s Sony. There’s… Free Realms… (!) Istaria? Ryzom has some I think and I heard rumours of it in AO, Second Life anyone? Housing is still pretty rare, unfortunately, and housing as developed as EQs is hen’s teeth.
Hopefully this thing will crash and burn. The unlikely resistance of the US players maybe will cause that.
But I’ve noticed some worrying “bugs” when I try to run EQ2 (client insists on streaming, can’t buy certain transfer related items), Whatever’s going on with that I don’t want anything to do with it. I foresee multiple “technical issues” very soon.
I’ve cancelled my All Access pass earlier than I intended to. We had put aside some money too for the next appropriate SC offer, but I think we’ll go and spend that somewhere else. I don’t fancy submitting my card details just now.