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SOE Goes Into Real Estate Speculation November 12, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest Next.
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It is one thing when Bhagpuss mentions that you are charging money for access to the alpha of your free to play game.

But when Ars Technica runs a headline about it, you have achieved a new level of notoriety.

Ars Technica Reports...

Ars Technica Reports…

SOE’s Landmark adjunct to EverQuest Next has a set of offers… Founder’s Packs… up now selling access to alpha and closed beta for the project.

Yes, there are other goodies included, some cosmetic gear and storage space (no doubt there is a clue in that as to what constraints they plan to use to drive people to the Station Store), but the key seems to be early access to a free to play tool in order to help create items for EverQuest Next, a free to play game.

And the most interesting item on the list is the head start bonus for those willing to part with $100.

Head Start Bonus

Head Start Bonus

I have not been paying attention to Landmark, but I seem to recall something about some plots being more valuable/useful/desirable than others.  Maybe not “pay to win,” but it is certainly buying some sort of preferential treatment.  But that’s the business model.  You have to make your money where you can.

In real estate the mantra is “Location, location, location” while in free to play it is “Monetize, monetize, monetize.”  It is just odd to see the two combined.

This isn’t quite what I had in mind when I was wondering if SOE could keep the level of excitement up for EverQuest Next. Anyway, I can wait for when this free to play tool is actually free.  Others seem more excited about the offer.

(Bonus points for SOE if somehow ProSieben.Sat1 access is screwed up.)

Comments»

1. Vatec - November 12, 2013

Honestly, I think it’s brilliant. They’re crowdsourcing some of the terrain for EQN -and- charging people for the privilege. Conversely, they’re “kickstarting” the game -and- giving potential players the ability to participate in the content creation process. Depends on your point of view, really.

Given how many people play EQ2 just for the housing, I suspect they’ll make decent money from the Settlers and Trailblazers. Heck, I’d even consider kicking in some money just because I like the idea that they’ll be formally integrating player feedback into the game, not just some toothless “player council” and platitudes about “listening to players” like LOTRO does. Their “four grails” aren’t all -that- original (GW2 has similar stuff already), but their funding and development model -is- pretty unique for this project.

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2. Noizy - November 12, 2013

I heard that a ProSieben.Sat1 account is not required for EQNext Landmark and that the game will not be region locked.

As for paying to test the beta, a couple of years ago I would have said that’s goofy. But between $200 lifetime memberships for games that go F2P and Chris Roberts selling spaceships (with lifetime insurance so you don’t lose your investment) for more than Zulu’s $1000 jeans, $60-$100 seems like a bargain. Heck, $60 is still less than the price of a monocle :)

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3. cyanbane - November 12, 2013

Its about 50/50 in the old EQ2 -Daily camp. I am on the ‘I don’t dig it’ team.

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4. NetherLands - November 12, 2013

I’ve mixed feelings about it, but given the nature of the game I can understand it to a degree as this way they sort of ensure mostly ‘seriously invested’ people will plot away. In other words, the TTP-issue will hopefully prevented this way, as the TTP crowd is unlikely to pony up the cash.

It also adds this whole ‘goldrush/claimgrab’ kind of feel, wich is kind of exciting.

Last but not least, some may see this as an opportunity to show off their creativity and skills with the EQ N design tools right under the noses of SOE, a sort of ‘ensured application’ process for the player and ‘training on the job without risks’ for SOE. They did say (iirc) they wanted more GM-driven content, varying per server, with EQN, and this way they can create an even bigger pool of people capable of doing that. Wether it will actually pan out this way remains to be seen, of course.

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5. Roki - November 12, 2013

While I have mixed feelings about the practice, SOE certainly aren’t breaking any new ground here… CCP did the exact same thing with Dust 514, where you needed to spend something like $30-40 on in-game currency and items in order to get into the closed beta of an otherwise F2P game.

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6. Wilhelm Arcturus - November 12, 2013

@Roki – Indeed, you wouldn’t have to look far to find companies doing much worse. The history of Zynga springs to mind, or the whole Chris Roberts smoke and mirrors show mentioned above. And, honestly, SOE did something similar with PlanetSide 2, selling an early adopter pack that got you into closed beta.

But the selling of prime locations… which if I understand things correctly… actually matters, that seems like a step further down the path to monetizing everything.

And there is the question about what this move portends for the future.

Back at SOE Live they talked about a lot of exciting things regarding EQN and Landmark. Back in August we were all a buzz. But SOE was really shy about details, especially about monetization. I hope this isn’t a sign that SOE plans to squeeze those two properties for all they are worth, monetizing every aspect to the point of either being unplayable without effectively subscribing or being full of reminders to BUY BUY BUY to the point of being a distraction from the game. (Or, as SOE has done in other games, both.)

This is, after all, the company that feels it is appropriate to throw up a “Subscribe to GOLD Level!” dialogs in the middle of combat in EQII.

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7. cthulhu57 - November 12, 2013

There is no such thing as “Free to Play”. Somebody has to pay or nobody will play. Quite frankly I don’t care about paying to win — I’ve been playing MMOs since 1999 and the people that paid to win then were the ones that had no life and played 24/7. So, now the people that are paying to win are the ones that have more money to spend. I’m in neither group. ;)

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8. mrrx - November 12, 2013

Wait. It’s a free to play game that I have to pay to help test ? Yeah, I’ll wait for free access/trial before investing time in such.

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9. bhagpuss - November 12, 2013

Noizy is right about the PSS1 thing. EQLandmark is completely outside that deal and will be both administered and operated directly by SOE for all territories. I’m guessing that was a decision predicated by the issue of intellectual property rights.

As it stands now, EQNext will be portalled via PSS1, requiring a PSS1 account in the territores they cover. As with all PSS7/SOE titles as far as I understand it that means PSS7 handle any financial transactions and provide customer service. All SOE games are entirely hosted and operated by SOE on SOE servers – there are no PSS1 servers and there won’t be.

If you don’t trust PSS1 (and many don’t) you should still be able to play EQNext without worrying too much about it so long as you play as a completely free account.

Moving on to the Pay-to-Win aspect of Landmark, it strikes me that as we know bugger all about how Landmark plays, or really even with any accuracy what it *is*, at this stage it’s impossible to tell how much being in at the start and getting those “amazing new claims” might matter.

Let’s posit a situation where Landmark is highly successful, as successful let’s say as GW2. That would mean some three million people playing Landmark during the first few months. If the game *is* about finding and claiming land, there are simply going to HAVE to be several million “amazing new claims” to be found or else the game will not work commercially.

I think it’s far more likely that we’ll hear complaints from Trailblazers that their big perk turned out to be worth less than they expected than that come launch day the Trailblazers are sitting on all the good plots and the vast bulk of the incoming customer place will be told to settle for second-best. As much land as is needed will be provided, would be my bet, whether that turns out to be a few thousand “amazing new claims” or a few million.

That’s assuming that Landmark even turns out to be mainly about claiming land and building things at all. At this stage I don’t think we can even claim to know that much.

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10. SynCaine - November 12, 2013

SOE just being SOE really. Its lose/lose here.

If the property works like UO property, where you have a select few super-value locations, its P2W, only here you are throwing your money into a black hole and hoping its worthwhile.

If its like Bhag predicts and you have millions of good locations, SOE screwed with their most loyal (dumb) customers, which always works out well for a game.

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11. Vatec - November 13, 2013

I think the target audience here are the same people who spend hours working on the interior of a house in EQ2 (or a dimension in Rift) and then invite the public in to admire the results. And those people are very likely to get exactly what they’re expecting for their money. Furthermore, many players are undoubtedly hoping to build some really cool terrain in Landmark and have it chosen for inclusion in EQ Next.

Despite all the negativity and ambivalence, I really don’t see any difference between this marketing scheme and a smaller company doing a Kickstarter campaign. In either case, you’re paying money up front for something that might be cool or might simply flop.

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