I was interested to see what sort of coverage the EverQuest 20th anniversary would get.
At one time EverQuest was a relatively big deal, bordering on being part of the broader culture. But its cultural peak was brief, small, and a long time ago. Now it is practically ancient history as a whole generation of kids have been born and grown into adults since it launched.
Where I was surprised was how the level of coverage seemed to be a bit turned on its head relative to the proximity to the topic a publication was.
That wasn’t wholly true. PC Gamer did a series of great articles about the game, its history, and its state of play these days.
- How is classic MMO EverQuest still alive after two decades?
- The story of EverQuest, the MMO that changed everything
- Our 7 favorite stories of death and adventure from 20 years of Everquest
- Looking back at the researchers who tried to understand EverQuest
The had an interview with EverQuest Executive Producer Holly Longdale in that first link that unearthed the following gems of information about the game via quotes:
- “We have more players now than we did in 2015 and our revenue has gone up.”
- “I’m not allowed tell you exactly how many people have come through the game over the years, but it’s enough to sustain us.”
- “So we just have an agreement in place that they [Project 1999] don’t launch stuff around the same time we do.”
- “Our biggest customer service request is people asking what email they used for their EverQuest account 15 years ago, because they want to log back in and play with their old characters again.”
- “Every three years we do a level increase, and we have changed the way some things work.”
- A new expansion, The Burning Lands, was released in December last year, and another is on the way.
- “But fundamentally, we don’t want to change the game. It’s like when we did the New Game Experience for Star Wars Galaxies and everyone quit.”
On the flip side though there was GameSpot, whose cultural relevance peak mirrors that of EverQuest, who just posted the anniversary trailer… early… without much comment and moved on, while Eurogamer, who is often in the forefront of video game reporting, declined to even mention the anniversary.
Then there was Variety, an unexpected source of any information that isn’t strictly a press release, which uncovered perhaps the biggest scoop about EverQuest Next we’d heard in five years, not to mention shining a bit of light on the factional strife that seemed to be going on behind the scenes… a conflict the traditionalists, with Holly Longdale at their head, looks to have won for now.
Adding on that was a post over a Gamasutra, which wasn’t strictly news coverage, by EverQuest team member Luke Sigmund. But it did lend further insight into the team there while also throwing out a bit of information about why corpse runs stopped being a thing. Yes, what you believe was part of the equation, but there was also a technical limitation to it as well that made it desirable to do away with this punishing mechanic. (You do still lose experience on death though, and can still lose levels, something TorilMUD, the template for EverQuest, got rid of a few years ago.)
There was an article up at Rock Paper Shotgun that elaborated on some of the topics already covered, including more detail on the relationship with Project 1999 for example.
Finally, coming in a bit late was an article over at Polygon which started off down the same path as some of the above, about how EverQuest was pretty much set on mining their installed base rather than trying to seek new fans. But there was a nugget dropped in the statement that one third of the games profits come from “nostalgia” players, which I would read as those interested in the progression server thing that EverQuest has been so good with.
And that was followed by a statement about the current servers they are using, which have four times the capacity of the originals. This led to some back of the envelope calculation by Bhagpuss in some email notes we exchanged that led to a possibility that peak concurrent players across all servers, given some assumptions such as when server status shows “full” that a given server is at 50% capacity, might be as high as 60K players some days. That could explain the initial statement on which I based a post a while back trying to compare how many people play EverQuest versus EVE Online. And since we know concurrent players peak in the low 30K range in New Eden, perhaps that was the basis of the original premise.
All of which made for some interesting reading last month. Every anniversary brings out some trivia about the game, bits of nostalgia or some form of infographic. But this year it feels like we learned a few interesting facts about the state of the game and the team that runs it.