How Many More EverQuest Expansions?

The April 30th EverQuest Producer’s Letter contained the following statement:

In this Producer letter I am proud to announce that we’re changing our tactics so we can accomplish what we have set out to do and do it with the quality we know we can deliver. Our next expansion will be released in November. This will give us more time to polish the game content and features. I am also happy to announce that November will be the month for all future expansion releases as well. We realize that many players want more content but would like to be able to play through the last expansion before feeling like they are falling behind when a new one comes out. Our goal is to focus on the overall quality and let the players have time to enjoy the great work that we put into each release.

This has brought about some discussion on the future of EverQuest, both in the short term (how will expansions benefit from this?) and the long term (what does this say about the future of EverQuest?).

This generated two good posts over on MobHunter, “What Does a Yearly Expansion Cycle Mean for EverQuest?” and “Is SOE Abandoning EverQuest?

I think the answer for the first is probably positive.  Expansions will get better, and this will spell the end for the “runt” February release.

On the bigger question though, I think this is also a signal that wind-down for EverQuest is beginning.  This signals more updating of zones, some very good, broad-based content to flesh out the game further, and a general trend of setting up the game to be put on the back burner in favor of newer projects.

But how many more EverQuest expansions will we see?

My first, gut reaction is five more expansions based solely on the fact that EverQuest seems to have more stamina than anybody ever imagined.  That would get it out to November 2011, giving EQ twelve years of full life.  But who will be left playing in 2011?

My pessimistic streak says two more real expansions.  We’ll get the one promised for 2007 and one more in 2008, both of these will be heavy on graphics updates.  2009 will feature a final major face lift, a serious update to the client application itself, and some small addition to high end content to celebrate 10 years.  Shortly after that, SOE will announce an incentive program to move people off of EQ to one of their other games (Vanguard might be ready by then). Incentives might include a special server dedicated for EQ players, a way to move or reserve guilds and player names over as a group, in-game items, titles, and maybe even some trade-in value on the piles of platinum stored away in EQ bank accounts. (1 plat = 1 copper for trade?)  For those who remain, servers will be merged together drastically, and the game will be put in to a mode of patches for bugs and compatibility issues only.  Servers (or server) will remain running as long as there are enough players to pay the bills.

Somewhere in between these two may be the correct answer.  A real, 10 year anniversary expansion with rich content might be too hard to pass up.  I think that how well Ultima Online does with its 10 year anniversary revamp will influence what happens for EverQuest in and after 2009.

In the end though, one of these expansions will end up being the last one.  And at some point after that, maybe long after that, the last SOE EverQuest server will shut down.  The last expansion will come sooner rather than later I think.  The dream of the loyal EverQuest player base, the ability of EverQuest to attract sufficient new players to keep the game viable and expansions coming, is a false hope.  Price cuts, expansions, free trials, and technical updates are not enough.

EverQuest is yesterday’s game.  There is no crime in that.  It will always have some fans no matter how out of date it gets.  But the reality is that its days of growth have passed.

How much longer do you think EverQuest has?

7 thoughts on “How Many More EverQuest Expansions?

  1. Michael

    So, a long time ago now (by blog standards), I was advocating that SOE give up on EQ and refocus on EQ2. The latter game was nowhere near the state it is today, and I thought that seemed like a good idea.

    In talking with Mark Jacobs about DAoC, and now Smedley about EQ, I’m convinced EQ is going to be around for a long time. EQ, at this point, is so cheap to run that I think it really will be around until ‘the last player’ turns off the lights. Until and unless EQ’s subscription rate falls below some ridiculously low number, I think SOE is going to run the game for the rest of eternity.

    Especially after they do get the graphic upgrades in place you’re speaking of. Some of the most recent expansions have been absolutely gorgeous to look at; can you imagine character models that matched up with that? Or old-world zones like Baubbleshire looking like the new Qeynos? Good stuff.

    I

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  2. Paul

    I really don’t think EQ has that long. It is not receiving enough new players because players can not solo to 75. Most players now are 70 to 75 which make it impossible for a new player to lvl very high unless they have a lot of friends. If EQ is going to stay around SOE needs to make it more of a single player game, so the players do not have to rely on others as much. I played for 7 years but had to quit because a decreasing population size in my server. I tried to start playing again but its hard to find groups at lvl 70. I don’t think EQ has long, but I will always be a fan of the game.

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  3. EM1 Loftin

    EQ will be around (IMHO) for at least another 5 years. There will always be a group of people who either don’t want to or can’t afford to upgrade their computers every time a new CPU comes out. There are also those like me that live out in the middle of nowhere where cable and DSL are not available. For these people until a faster communication route is established (wireless or power line DSL maybe), we few will be satisfied with the slow dial up connection that is still possible with EQ. I do think that with WOW and other MMORPG’s coming out over the years, they are cooking on EQ they way EQ did Ultima (no it is not defulked and still has it’s happy followers). SOE will need to continue to look towards what the customer wants instead of what their original design was (some of us do solo). SOE of course sets the rules, but we always have the choice to take our bussiness elswhere. I am a 6 year veteran of EQ.

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  4. Decrepit Old Bones

    After playing EQ for a number of years, up to Serpents spine, I moved to Vanguard, while in open Beta. Quickly realized that although the game had a lot of potential it was ruined because it had no content. I went to warcraft and after a few months became very bored with how easy it is to solo and play up to level 70 without a group. I jumped on the Warhammer online bandwagon and although I enjoyed it up till it actually opened, I quickly became extremelly dissatisfied with its monotony.
    I am now activating my EQ account and going back. By far it has the best lore, and best game mechanics around. Yes old graphiocs code and net engine but it was still fun. What is the point of soloing in an MMORPG? I thought thats what I wanted now i want to group again.

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  5. Jon

    I s there anyone out there that can tell me the names of all the expansions for everquest. I just ordered a copy of the titanium version and wanted to look around for the rest of the new expansions.
    Thanks

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