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Quote of the Day – DC Universe Online Owns on PlayStation June 11, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Sony Online Entertainment.
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3 comments

Smedley said DC Universe Online is the largest revenue generator across PS3 and PS4 combined, even though the game is free to play.

Fortune, Interview with John Smedley about SOE

That is a pretty amazing, given how DC Universe Online stumbled almost immediately after a hot launch.

Men in Tights

Then again, the article says that the PlayStation people are just starting to embrace free to play, so there isn’t much competition. (Warframe is the top on PS4 alone, and I wonder where PlanetSide 2 stands?)  And the game itself was designed around playing with a controller, one of my primary complaints about the game when I tried it on the PC.  It is very much a console title.

I suppose there is some irony in that DC Universe Online was something of the last stand for subscriptions at SOE back in early 2011, with Smed making a pretty strong statement about what customers of a subscription game should expect.  By the end of 2011, the move to free to play was in full swing at SOE.  Now, in this article, it is all about free and harnessing the user base for content and not depending on subscriptions.  The article closes with:

SOE continues to evolve as a company. The days of charging a subscription for online games are part of its history.

Well, except for that one subscription they still have.

Once known as Station Access...

Once known as Station Access…

SOE All Access is still a thing, and as good of a deal as it seems these days compared to the past, you still pretty much have to subscribe to get the fullest out of games like EverQuest or EverQuest II.  So call it mostly part of SOE’s history.

Misplaced Loyalty December 18, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Sony Online Entertainment.
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I got an email from Sony Online Entertainment this morning with the title:

Thanks for your Loyalty – Here’s Your Exclusive Reward

Cool!  A reward!  An exclusive reward!

I figured it was because when I went back to play EverQuest II as part of the annual autumnal nostalgia run I signed up for Station Pass so I could also peek in on EverQuest and enjoy some benefits in PlanetSide 2.  So while it did not say what kind of reward, there were clearly some options.

So imagine my disappointment when it turns out Superman was on the email.

Man of steel... rewards

Man of steel… rewards

Yet another reward going unclaimed.

Still, I am sure this made somebody happy today.

Reviewing My 2011 MMO Outlook Eleven Months Later November 28, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Rift, Sony Online Entertainment, Star Wars: The Old Republic.
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13 comments

Back at the end of December 2010 I wrote a piece that summarized the key MMOs which were slated for 2011 in which I had some interest.  There were six games on that list and I was pretty sure that I could only invest myself into one of them.

Here we are about 11 months later and I think the results are about as solid as they will ever be.  I thought I also might get in the first year in review post, but somebody beat me to it by hours.  Oh well.

So in something like reverse order, let me review those six picks for 2011.

The Agency – Gone …and Mostly Forgotten

A really, really secret agency

Even back when I wrote the initial piece on the subject, I was skeptical that we would see The Agency.  There had been a strange hype and silence roller coaster going on with the title for too long for me to pin much hope on it dropping in during this calendar cycle.

And then the word came down.  The Agency had been cancelled by SOE.  It is gone and given its rocky progress (as seen/interpreted from the outside) it isn’t coming back.

All of which pretty much made my choice for me.

TERA Online – The Exiled Realm of Arborea Remains Exiled

Not Terra, no no no
TERA Online was always a long shot for me in any case, but how can you ignore a game that puts out statements like this?

TERA is the first true Action MMORPG, providing all of the depth of an MMO with the intensity and gratification of an action game. Players fully control their characters using the game’s dynamic battle system. Player actions can change the balance of power in a world threatened by dark powers as six allied races try to work together to protect their lands from marauding monsters, underworld dwellers, and evil scheming gods.

TERA raises the bar, setting new standards in the gaming industry. It is a visually stunning world with graphic quality above all other games in the industry. You will experience a new ground-breaking gameplay system where stereotypes of traditional MMORPGs will be broken. You will have full control over the attacks and the fate of your enemy. No more ‘pointing and clicking’ and playing combat relay with the enemies. Furthermore, not only do you control the action, TERA is also set in a world where the players will dictate the flow of the economy and individually impact the community environment.

That just reads like a desperate plea for help/attention when I say it out loud, but that might just be me.  I had to stop following them on Twitter because they would tweet well beyond the amount of information they had to share.

In any case, the release date for TERA Online has been pushed out to “Spring 2012″ for Europe and North America, which put it out of reach for this year.

Guild Wars 2 – The Game Changer?

space bar... space bar!

Still the best logo of the bunch.

And for those fans closely following the dev reports and press leaks, Guild Wars 2 is the MMO that is going to fix all of our current MMO woes. At least that was the way it felt for a while this year, where it seemed like you couldn’t kvetch about any MMO without somebody popping and and commenting how GW2 was going to solve that (and every other) problem.

I remain skeptical.  It isn’t that I do not want it to be true.   It is more that I expect the game will probably find its share of new problems while discovering why some things have been done the way they were in the past.

Just like real life, two steps forward, one step back.

Unfortunately, one of the old school problems ArenaNet is having is getting to market.  One of my caveats for the game was that it might not ship in 2011.  If I were writing a 2012 MMO Outlook… and I just might… I would probably say the same thing, since it seems possible that it might not ship in 2012.

So a Guild Wars 2 was non-event in 2011.

DC Universe Online – A Rags to Slightly Nicer Rags Story

Men in Tights
At last, an MMO that actually shipped in 2011!  It went live on 1/11/11/

Granted, it has been through some rocky times since, but it has since made the transition to a free to play business model, which has shown some increase in the fortunes of the game.  As Smed tweeted last week:

Really happy with how DCUO is doing. Here are some interesting facts

DCUO’s playerbase is growing at 6% a day.. great to see all the new players!

700% increase in daily revenue (47% PC / 53% PS3)

More than 85% of daily log-ins are returning players.

Additional character slots and the Vanguard of the Heavens character skins are the two most popular marketplace items

Good for SOE.  I hope it lasts.  And I haven’t seen anybody beat Smed over the head for his quote earlier in the year about the expectations one should have for a subscription MMO.

The downside, for me, is that it is a superhero game and I am not really a superhero person.  And so my first update on the outlook list came while DCUO was still in beta.  I tried it.  It wasn’t really for me.

Star Wars: The Old Republic – Just Barely in 2011

But it is Star Wars!
Here we come to the more recent tribulations.  Star Wars: The Old Republic is going to squeeze into 2011 with less than two weeks to spare.  John Smedley said [citation needed] that he thought SWTOR was going to be the last big subscription MMORPG.

He may be right.

But even if he isn’t, I hope it is the last one that fails to learn from the past.

Oh, sure, SWTOR has learned a lot from looking at other MMOs.  It is an utterly conventional MMORPG in the World of Warcraft sense of the term.  It is an easy to learn, easy to level up in standard themepark that guides you through a linear story line like… well… a BioWare game.  Story as fourth pillar and all that, though I have to wonder how big of an improvement giving me choices during a dialog really is when I end up tasked to kill ten rats no matter what I choose.

Well, it will be successful, at least for certain definitions of success.

It will be hugely popular on day one, which will be December 20th.  And to accommodate the rush there will have to be literally hundreds of individual servers in Europe and North America, most of which will have long queues.  It has to go that way because despite saying they want a smooth launch, EA wants to sell boxes before the end of the quarter.  So I have my doubts that there will be any throttling on that front.  And once somebody has the box, what kind of PR disaster would result from saying, “We would like you to wait for a couple of weeks before you start playing.”

So I predict that this will be the same old story.  Crowding, queues, angry customers, more servers, dispersed population, and then the usual problems of “Hey, I want to play with my friends, but we’re on three different servers,”  followed by some “Hey, my server is really empty” when a significant portion of the initial crowd hits level cap.

Anyway, my experiences in the beta and the way that the game is trending, which is to say down the same old path, made me cancel my pre-order.  I won’t be playing this is 2011.

I will be interested to see how EA and BioWare handles the server issue.  I hope they have a good plan in place and can execute on it.  But I also hope this will be the last huge fuck up hurrah for shards.  There are other options and the idea of server communities is grossly overrated in my opinion.

I will also be keeping an eye on how they handle the content question, whether they buy into Smed’s quote or whether they go the downloadable content route and sell any new content in addition to charging a subscription fee.

Plus, I want to see how soon they even get some new content online.  There might be six months to a year of work just making the game run smoothly if history is any guide.  And the bar they have set for content… fully voiced and such… will make it even a taller order than it would for other games.

So I will check back in six months and see what has happened.

Any bets on the price of a box in June 2012?

Rift – Comfortable Familiarity

Not a dye nor a floor wax

The twist here is that SWTOR is at about the same point in beta that Rift was when I said I was not going to play at launch.  Waiting half a year served me well.  The box price dropped to… well… free if you caught it at the right moment.  And everybody who rushed in early spotted key game play issues that Trion went on to fix.

So you can see how I might be keen to replay that plan.  I have benefited from all of you people pre-ordering the game and playing it on day one.  Thanks for clearing the path for me!

Well, I had another objection to Rift.  Another damn fantasy MMORPG when I was literally up to my ears in other choices.  And then the other choices pretty much stepped out of the picture.  Cataclysm grew dull, only part of the instance group was invested in Middle-earth, the Sony hacking shut down killed our momentum in EverQuest, EverQuest II didn’t fly for a number of reasons, Dungeons & Dragons Online didn’t click with the group scouts, and why get invested in Guild Wars when Guild Wars 2 is just around the corner and is going to solve all MMORPG issues known to man?

Plus nobody else seemed to be clamoring for a superhero game either.

So there we were at the start of autumn wondering what game might suit us.  Then faster than you can say “Deus ex machina,” Rift went on sale again.

And so we are in Telara, which actually seems to be sticking for us.  I think the whole group has logged in outside of the usual group play hours.  A few of have alts, are working on crafting, and are generally enjoying the game outside of the regular group.

It is similar enough to other titles to deliver what we want while being different enough to keep us interested.

Rift became the one game on the list that I was able to play… for one reason or another.

We will no doubt be playing Rift well into 2012.

What will happen after that… well… we will have to see what else is new by then.

Smed Tweets that DC Universe Online Doing Well as Free to Play November 21, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Sony Online Entertainment.
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John Smedley,President of Sony Online Entertainment has been active on Twitter again, this time giving updates on how DC Universe Online has been doing since the transition to a free to play business model.

QFT – You never know when a tweet will face a delete:

Really happy with how DCUO is doing. Here are some interesting facts

DCUO’s playerbase is growing at 6% a day.. great to see all the new players!

700% increase in daily revenue (47% PC / 53% PS3)

More than 85% of daily log-ins are returning players.

Additional character slots and the Vanguard of the Heavens character skins are the two most popular marketplace items

The change in business model appeared to have lured blogger Green Armadillo of Player Versus Developer into the game, and he has been posting about it quite a bit.

Have you joined the rush into (or back into) DCUO since the business model change?

SOE Finally Gets a REAL Server Status Page August 31, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Sony Online Entertainment.
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I have long complained that what passes for server status pages for SOE games like EverQuest and EverQuest II have often displayed information with little relationship to reality.

This is something that seems so easy, and which competitors like Blizzard have done so well, that I have boggled at SOE’s half-assed approach to the problem.  I swear at one point the EQ status page was static HTML that somebody just updated manually… when they had the time.

Now though, that might finally be at an end.

SOE has launched their new unified server status page.

EverQuest II Status

The page is a huge step forward.

Granted, it still needs some work.

Currently it only displays the status for EverQuest II, EverQuest, Star Wars Galaxies, and DC Universe Online.  I suppose the Vanguard servers are touched so infrequently that assuming they are up is safe.

And the region data column seems to be only partially populated.  Test might pass for a region I suppose, but where is “live?”

And the sorting of the servers is obviously based on some database key not visible in the display.  Alphabetical sorting by server name would be appreciated.

But otherwise, SOE seems to going in the right direction with this.  I will have to check back on patch day and see if status and reality actually align now for SOE.

It is interesting to see that of the EQ servers, only Fippy Darkpaw and Antonius Bayle are running at a load level other than “low.”

Addendum:

SOE seems to be continuing work on the page.  They have now added more games and tinkered with the information displayed, including the freshness of any given status.

The Game List, Sept. 2

Logical sorting patterns still seem to elude them, but you cannot have everything I suppose.

The Hazards of Console Gaming… January 28, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Humor, Misc MMOs.
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5 comments

Somebody else might come along and want to use the TV.

The computer, though, is safe from intrusion.

At least that is the way it goes at my house, where computers out number TVs 3 to 1.

DCUO – PS3 vs. Windows Sales Ratio January 24, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Misc MMOs, Sony Online Entertainment.
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10 comments

John Smedley, whose Twitter account has come alive with the launch of DC Universe Online (he never Tweets about EQ or EQII), has been providing some tidbits of information about how things have been going with DCUO.

This mornings gem:

52% PS3 to 48% Windows seems more balanced than I thought would end up being the case.

Which along with:

…seems to indicate that things are kicking off well for DCUO.

We’ll see what he’s tweeting (if anything) when the 30 days of free play runs out for the PS3 players.  Will console players go for a subscription?

Blizzard Customer Service Just Giving Away Authenticators January 19, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online, Sony Online Entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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In my further adventures with Twitter and trying to figure out exactly what it is good for, I decided to follow as many MMO company Twitter accounts as I could.

I wanted to see what companies were doing with Twitter.

A lot of the game companies are very quiet most of the time, which I appreciate.  They save their tweets for something special.

SOE, is more verbose and occasionally talks about game status, but has been mostly promoting DC Universe Online of late.  Heck, even John Smedley is suddenly quite active on the DCUO front.

TERA Online talks a lot about… well… TERA Online.  Too much, I think.

LOTRO announces flash lotteries and community related items.

But BlizzardCS seems to be unique in that they give actual customer service status, like the in-game petition queue duration. (Which went from about a 3 day wait to about a a 12 hour wait in the course of a day at one point.  Somebody turned on the steam there.)

But they also give away Blizzard Authenticators by the hundreds.

No, really.  I’ve seen a couple of tweets like this already.

I was curious enough about this that I responded and won a free authenticator on the first try.  And they sent it to me, for free.  No shipping or anything.  I didn’t actually need an authenticator, but I know enough people who play WoW that I’ll find somebody to pass it on to.

But I thought it was interesting that the organization within Blizzard that probably benefits most from people having authenticators actually has budget to send them out to people who know where to find them for free.  It is one of those things that seems logical, but which I hardly ever see.

Enlightened self-interest or some such.

[Addendum: You can read a more clearly worded and detail description of the Blizzard Twitter Authenticator Give Away contest here.]

John Smedley on the Expectations You Can Have With a Monthly Subscription Fee January 15, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Sony Online Entertainment.
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The monthly subscription fee means players can expect a lot of new content from us. And I say a lot — I really mean that. This is something that we feel obligated to the players, because they are paying monthly sub fee…”

From this DCUO post over at Massively.

I’m just going to let that hang there, something of a quote for truth thing.

It will give me something to check back on in a few months.

I’m sure nobody would disagree with that as SOE’s position on the subject.

DC Universe Online Launches Today January 11, 2011

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Misc MMOs, Sony Online Entertainment.
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January 11th is launch day for SOE’s massively multiplayer super hero game DC Universe Online, at least here in the United States.

It will go live Friday in Europe.  Something about Tuesdays being launch days in the US and Fridays in Europe.

Everybody is always going on about console MMOs… well, a few people do talk it up once in a while… when they are bored…

But now somebody has done something about it.

Well, done something about it again.  And with super heroes this time.  That could be a winning combo.

This is the second console MMO title for SOE, the first being EverQuest Online Adventures which came out on the PlayStation 2 back in 2003.  It is their first, and maybe the first, PlayStation 3 MMO title.

Being part of the larger Sony corporation, you would think that SOE would have the inside track with the PS3.  Instead, SOE managed to get a Mac OS version of Free Realms out while the promised PS3 version is still somewhere out in the future.  March 11?  We’ll see.

DC Universe Online is also available on Windows.

Of course, if you were in the beta and don’t think you’re going to end up playing DCUO on your PC, SOE might have the last laugh on you.

The uninstaller is broken!

Well, it is for some people.  I must have wandered into the beta after they fixed it, as it cleaned up okay for me.  Or maybe the problem does not manifest itself Windows 7?

No, the shame of it is the  tech support response.  May you also get a personal note from the community manager if the uninstall doesn’t work for you.

Anyway, congratulations to SOE for finally getting another console MMO out the door.