Wednesday, June 8, 2011

EQ2 Plan: Subscription Content, Expansion Features

SOE wisely waited for the second day of E3 so that their EQ2 interview with Massively would have a bit more of the stage to themselves.  Unfortunately, their recent history has me a bit skeptical about what they're selling. 

What they say...
In the short term, low level players can get "leaping" and "gliding" mounts to tide them over until they qualify for flight.  (Personally, I think the leaping sounds cool and far less likely to trivialize outdoor quest content than flight, guess it's too late to trade the latter back out of the game.) 

In the medium term, Smokejumper envisions providing regular content in the quarterly paid subscription updates and concentrating on "adding features to the game" in paid expansions.  In the long run, the producer claims to be considering a la carte sales of the expansion features in lieu of fixed expansion sets.

What do they mean?
The catch is that having content in the content updates was something that the game used to do on a more regular basis in expansion eras past.  (In fairness, the leanest patches were probably set in motion before Smokejumper arrived.)  Meanwhile, earlier this year the game made a point of adding an expansion-ish feature - a new race - for an a la carte fee IN ADDITION TO the paid expansion box, which also contained most of the new content that the game has received over the last year. 

It's possible that they do legitimately want to run an expansion that focuses on the low to middle level range, which is presumably where free EQ2X players are petering out over on the game's new most popular server.  Currently, free players have no reason to pay for any expansions until they hit level 80.  Revamping Freeport and Qeynos into "multi-level quest hubs" fits with this theme, as does a greater emphasis on new features (since there is already a decent amount of content in the low levels).  Some of these - notably cross server grouping - are potentially a double edged sword when it comes to retaining current players, but I guess that's what they say about omelets and eggs.

Of course, they're going to want to sell expansions to veterans too, so the "features" might be expected to include something that gates content in practice (if not strictly by expansion ownership).  In that context, we get the last teaser - a game that already has 24 classes, which is arguably 12 or more classes too many for actually designing class niches - will be getting a 25th sometime this year. 

Much as I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt, a new class isn't content, and it isn't an expansion feature (since that is confirmed for next year), so it sure looks suspiciously like we're going to see a new class land alongside a new race in the cash store in a game that also charges a subscription and $40 per year for an expansion box regardless of how much content is ready to go in that box.  If there is an extra fee involved, the odds that the new addition will be on a level playing field with its 24 compatriots goes down rapidly.  I'll be happy if I have to quote this post and eat some crow in six months, but I think the odds against are pretty good. 

4 comments:

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Starseeker said...

Mystery Class #25 - Beastlord.

Xaxziminrax II said...

Wait. What DO they say about omelets and eggs?

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