Ooh: EQ Thrusts Into The F2P Mix

By Jim Rossignol on July 28th, 2010 at 1:51 pm.


With SOE having made some in-roads to freeland with Free Realms, it seems they’re also going to try it with Everquest 2. It’s not quite the DDO or LOTRO model, however, since Everquest II Extended is going to be an entirely separate (although mechanistically and thematically similar) game from the Everquest 2 that you probably abandoned to go back to World Of Warcraft. There are a bunch of details over here – it’s probably going into beta on 17th of August – but you won’t be surprised to learn that the game will be supported by sucking out vital elements of your soul and using them to feed the dead god Anubis, who lives on in a nth-dimension beneath the surface of the Earth an optional subscription and in-game micropaymentish marketplace.

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36 Comments »

  1. Carra says:

    Free is always good. I might give it a try some day.

    But for now I’ll just wait until Cataclysm is released and play Starcraft 2 in the meantime.

  2. Lobotomist says:

    End of subscription based MMOs

    • Carra says:

      That would be when WoW decides to go F2P.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Hah. Have you really, really looked at this? Let me point you to this: http://everquest2.com/_themes/default/images/extended/membershipMatrix.jpg

      No, EQ2 isn’t the best example of ‘free to play’.

    • Dominic White says:

      Eh, if you consider that you’d have to buy the boxed game + expansions normally, the subscription + buying level-cap lifts and races actually seems pretty fair.

    • Nick says:

      Except you can get all the exapnsions and the full game for about £10 (not counting the latest).

    • geldonyetich says:

      About time MMORPGs stop charging a monthly subscription, IMLTHO. It was all very novel to pay $9.89/mo when there were only three big name MMORPGs (and a few everybody forgot or never heard of) to choose from, but now that there are thousands of MMORPGs, and most of them play like each other, I can’t see the point in shelling out $15/mo whether or not I play a game simply to have access to your clone.

      I keep wanting to say I’m not sure I’ve much reason to play EQ2 F2P when LOTRO goes F2P, but there’s a certain give and take there that makes me wonder which is the truly superior product. I think LOTRO’s balance is a bit more solid, the lines and cleaner both graphically and design-wise, but EQ2 does have a lot of interesting fringes to it.

    • Zogtee says:

      These games are of course not really going free. They’re just shouting “Free!” from the rooftops, hoping to bring in new people. The basic idea is to make more money than they did with the old subscription-based method, but to do so in a more subtle way, with a squillion micropayments and “deals” that will all add up nicely in the long run.

      Yes, a squillion.

    • geldonyetich says:

      Considering DDO reported something like a 500% increase in revenue for going F2P, I’d say it’s a fairly viable model for producing said squillion.

      How it works is not so tricky to figure out: MMORPGs are, by design, addictive. The trouble isn’t that people will spend money on them when they’re playing them, but rather getting people to play them in the first place. With a F2P model, you know that you’re going to have a lot less hooked fish (paying customers). However, not having to worry about a subscription fee entices a whole lot more fish to take a nibble than you’d otherwise would get. .

      As a player, I’d say going F2P is great for me. I’ve got 1001 other games to play and I’d rather not pay $15/mo on a game I barely make the time to play anymore. If it so happens your game turns out to be awesome enough to take up a lot of my time, that’s great, I’ll drop money on your cash shop because I’m genuinely enjoying myself enough to want those things. Otherwise, we go our separate ways, and there’s no hard feelings to be had.

  3. Nick says:

    they limit you ability/spell levels to adept in the free part, which is a bit crap.

    • Pmeie says:

      yeah, totally crap, cos that means you’re fairly useless iirc.

      i also don’t like that to get as much content (levels/races) in the freeplay “extended” eq2 as you do in “normal” eq2, you have to pay more than a regular eq2 subscription. it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but i guess they have to do that to keep people subscribing to the normal eq2…

    • user@example.com says:

      Way to make the coercer useless, guys.

      Coercers are great fun, just grab a Master version of your level 20 charm and you’re set for life, as higher level versions only really increase duration and regeneration on the charmed mob. Playing one is amazing. You run around having some local giant monster beat the hell out of everything until the screen flashes and you have to frantically stun, mez, and root everything in the fight while you try to recharm your pet, and then you die because you’re squishy. :D

  4. Gothnak says:

    Ooh, does it have the Everquest CCG for free in that too… I don’t want to play the MMO, just the CCG, which currently you need a paid for account in the main game…

    • Neil says:

      The CCG is free (but packs of cards aren’t – although they give you a few free if you subscribe).

  5. Red Avatar says:

    I always liked EQ2 more than WoW because:

    a) you could own a home or a guild hall
    b) you had decent crafting (until they nerfed it – thanks Blizzard for “inspiring” them to make crafting suck)
    c) you could build furniture!
    d) beautiful settings and wonderful music, dripping with atmosphere (while I find WoW too cartoony and simplistic)
    e) PvM is more fun

    Yeah, sure, WoW is more about PvP and huge raids – exactly the things I find boring. Good for people who lack a real life and can sit around for a few hours waiting for everyone to be ready for a raid but sorry, I prefer to play GOOD games instead.

    • Pmeie says:

      yeah i like it for PvM and the atmosphere. the houses + guild hall thing is nice too.

      and yeah i remember where you had to make good quality bits of metal first before making other items hah.. i was pretty young when i played it back then though, i barely remembered how it used to be when i played it again later, just knew it had changed a lot.

    • Neil says:

      Washes, oils, resins, tempers. Crafting as it originally was implemented was an awful, horrible grind of watching progress bars move around and mashing 3 buttons. What’s more, you had to rely on other people (or, more likely, you would just have your own army of crafters) for many common ingredients; bags were too small to hold all the different ingredients and products; products were not very useful; and bots abounded. There was no auction house/offline selling system, making it hard to get what you needed. Harvesting was a drag, especially going through the lower level areas to get your skill up – lots of competition for just a few nodes, and getting to skill level 40 (since reduced to 20, thankfully) took hours.

      Crafting is somewhat better now, as all of these issues have been addressed to some degree. The central mechanic is still a snoozefest, though.

    • Wulf says:

      I loved Everquest II as well. I had a Kerran monk (I’ll come back to this.)

      One thing you said was an important point for me.

      d) beautiful settings and wonderful music, dripping with atmosphere (while I find WoW too cartoony and simplistic)

      You’re not exactly right, a lot of people think this, but it’s a common misconception. If you were to look at some animated movies, they’re beautifully choreographed, and the movement, flow, and animation itself is stunning. Studio Ghibli does this well, they do it so well, in fact.

      The problem with World of Warcraft is that it’s a kid’s cartoon, the cheap sort you find on Cartoon Network, one that clearly has a low budget. And it really grates on me, like you cannot imagine when people say there’s any artistic talent at all in World of Warcraft. There isn’t. There’s almost a minus modifier there in artistic talent. This was true of Warcraft III as well, at least visually.

      The thing is, Blizzard tend to stick to low-res graphics, but they aren’t as good with animation as people think they are, either. If you want great animation, watch a Studio Ghibli movie, but do not… DO NOT… try to say that Blizzard has any artistic talent beyond a low-budget cartoon, and definitely don’t ever try to equate them to a professional animation house, like Studio Ghibli.

      There isn’t atmosphere, it’s too simple for that, they hammer it home, it’s ham-fisted, it’s simplified, it’s like it’s meant for a remedial child rather than anyone else, and only for a child. But that’s insulting to children, because even Free Realms has areas with more atmosphere than World of Warcraft.

      The movement, the ‘art’ (and I cringe to call it such) is all basic, it’s amateur stuff, it doesn’t look good, not in screenshots or moving, there’s no sense of atmosphere, there’s no sense of place, the transition between zones is often so immediate that it actually irritates me (something a number of Korean games have been chided for, but Blizzard never has). I can’t think of the amount of times where I step 1 pixel over a zone line and everything changes, textures, sky, everything.

      It’s a horrible mish-mash.

      Now, World of Warcraft might be the better game to some people, but Everquest actually had artists working on it, and the animations were breathtaking. I had a Kerran Monk with a staff, he was a white tiger sort, and… often, I’d just go into combat to see him move. The Monk animations were flawless, and at times even breathtaking, and that was very, very memorable for me.

      There is atmosphere there, too. There are obvious cultures, and it can be creepy, cheery, it can be cloying (the Fae city), the ‘evil’ faction’s city just has a sense of oppression that hangs in the air, and clings, it’s all around you and so visible, especially when it comes to the Iskar and what’s become of them. And unlike World of Warcraft, locations looked different by a greater merits than simply changing the primary colour that was overused for that area.

      Scathing? Maybe, but Blizzard gets too much credit for ‘art’, and that just… makes me twitch, sometimes. People need to be exposed to more talented works if they think there’s anything visually impressive in World of Warcraft, they really do. I look at World of Warcraft and I think of colouring books, basic, boring designs coloured in with crayons. Blocky, horrible, and perhaps the only game I’ve ever played that’s managed to make colourful look boring.

      I have no desire to ever go back to World of Warcraft, but I may go back to Everquest II for another go, if only to watch my Kerran Monk fight again. Kerran Monks are things of beauty.

    • Wulf says:

      One other great thing that comes to mind about Everquest II versus World of Warcraft that I simply must speak of is the cities. One of the first things I noticed in Qeynos is that it was actually a fairly alive place. In World of Warcraft, the NPCs amount to traders who stand still, and guards who walk in large circles. That’s it.

      In Everquest II, you had NPCs that were wandering around all the time. You could be in a shop, and someone would come in and order something, chatting with the shopkeeper for a while before opening the door to the store, leaving, and closing it behind them. Things like that really added to the sense of a believable world. I really loved Qeynos in general though, it actually felt more like a city, more vibrant, a breathing thing. Rather than a small town with people stuck in one place that just called itself a city, just because.

    • malkav11 says:

      World of Warcraft is stunningly beautiful. I’m sorry for you that you can’t see that, but it remains the case. EQII looks very good…in places. But it simply lacks style or interest value in a lot of other places, and many of the models are actively ugly at this point. I think it may very well be the better game in many respects, but the graphics are not EQII’s strong point.

    • Wulf says:

      Not surprised to see someone throwing a wobbly over me having an opinion. A new day, nothing changes. Sigh. Right…

      “World of Warcraft is stunningly beautiful.”

      For some, a low-budget cartoon can be beautiful. That’s perfectly fair enough, all I’m saying is that I should be able to call it for what it is.

      “I’m sorry for you that you can’t see that, but it remains the case.”

      Well, no. It’s just perceptions, really. That remains the case for you. Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, and it’s foolhardy to believe otherwise, all I did is explain why I didn’t find it beautiful.

      What I think I need to explain here is that I’m an aesthete, I’m an admirer of beauty and art. I spend a non-trivial period every day looking at art, it’s a big part of my life and I’d be lost without it, so I definitely have things that I find beautiful and things that I don’t. I’ve learned to see whether or not any art I’m looking at has soul. At least in my understanding of that.

      I look at art, and I try to understand the love behind it. Is there passion in this? Can I see the soul of the artist? You’d be amazed how often the character, the personality, and the soul of an artist comes over in a piece of art, and I have my favorite artists too who tend to put a lot of that into all of their work. Then you have some artists who can crank out a lot of technically proficient stuff which doesn’t show a lot of imagination or love. You also have people who do art clearly for money.

      If I look at World of Warcraft, I can’t see any kind of soul there. What I see is that a lot of amateur artists were working on it for their dues, it was something to pay the bills but it wasn’t anything truly exceptional or awe-inspiring. It simply is. You don’t get the same sense of awe stepping into a forest in World of Warcraft that you would walking into a real forest (and a trek through a large forest is… well, if you haven’t done it, do it). Some artists can capture that to a degree, some not at all. World of Warcraft was of the latter category, for me.

      I even do a bit of art myself, it’s nothing special, and I don’t think it is, but I keep at it. If I have anything it’s creativity and imagination, as I’ve proved in these comments thread before. For me, it takes a little more effort than World of Warcraft puts on the table to be considered ‘beautiful’. If you want me to think of something as beautiful, it has to have some kind of a soul, there has to be something there, there has to be a certain magic to it. I did not find this magic in World of Warcraft, same as I don’t find that magic in low-budget cartoons.

      “EQII looks very good…in places. But it simply lacks style or interest value in a lot of other places, and many of the models are actively ugly at this point. I think it may very well be the better game in many respects, but the graphics are not EQII’s strong point.”

      I disagree. I wish I had a video of a Kerran Monk fighting with a staff to show you just how stunning they are. You could compare any class doing any animation in World of Warcraft and you wouldn’t find anything that comes remotely close to the astounding finesse of a staff-fighter in Everquest II.

      I need say no more than that, for it is your opinion, and you’re welcome to it.

  6. Noterist says:

    The card game’s always been free. You just happen to get a couple of extra (no-trade) booster packs if you’re subscribed to either EQ or EQ2. I regularly go back for a quick game even though I don’t have a sub.

  7. Mac says:

    F2P model seems a bit pricey $200 per annum to get platinum membership … so you can have access to the expansion … isn’t this more than the current sub?

  8. Freud says:

    I suspect even the F2P market is saturated as well with all these companies trying to get players to pay with micro transactions. But if I recall correctly Dungeons & Dragons Online has been growing quite a bit lately, so that might explain why so many companies are trying it out.

  9. President Weasel says:

    It’s the game I’ve abandoned twice – once 5 years ago for World of Warcraft, and once a couple of months ago when my friends dragged me back in and I went back to EVE Online instead.
    It’s just too grindy and generic, doing the same spells in the same sequence for level after level after level on the long grind from 50 to what is it now, 90? I lost interest short of 80, made an alt, did the betrayal quest, lost the remaining scraps of interest and quit.

    I did quite enjoy getting a feeling of deja-vu from half-remembered places that don’t actually exist.

  10. Bru says:

    Just to make things clear, Levels 1-80 are free. 81-90 does NOT require you to have a platinum membership, just that you have to own the latest expansion. What the platinum membership does is give you access to that same content if you hadn’t previously bought that expansion.

    Hopefully that clears up the rumors of “You MUST subscribe to platinum to see level 90.”

    • geldonyetich says:

      I think what a lot of people are missing is that, if you’re willing to stick with a game for the first 80 levels, whether or not you’re willing to shell out for the next 10 levels is a no-brainer. Most players will get good and sick of the game long before that. Consequently, offering the first 80 levels free is quite generous.

  11. mandrill says:

    It seems to be in open ‘alpha’ (though it says beta on the website) I don’t have an existing EQ2 account but was able to get on to the extended server using this link: http://launch.soe.com/eq2x/

    Hit the launch button and follow the instructions. You’ll need a Station account (but I’m guessing a few people have one left over from Planetside)

    I’m Mandrill in game. give me a poke if you’re trying it out.

  12. Gothnak says:

    Hmm, played the CCG tutorial, now i have to buy a pack of cards for 5.99.. That sucks… I’m more than happy for a price structure of £20 and i can unlock all the cards by playing a lot or £8 a month and i can unlock all the cards by playing a lot, but i am not buying each any every virtual card… Hmpf…

    • malkav11 says:

      You’re misunderstanding the structure. You can buy preconstructed starter decks to play with for a certain cost (you get one free with a copy of Everquest II, also probably Everquest 1), and you can buy booster packs of virtual cards at a different cost, with an active EQ or EQII subscription providing you with five booster packs of your choice of expansion every month. The cards you unlock by playing singleplayer are unique to the singleplayer campaign and will not be in the booster packs. You will never earn the cards in the boosters through play…outside of tournaments, I suppose.

  13. bantha0 says:

    Just wanted to point out that there’s a distinction between EQ and EQ2 even though the title + summary conflates the two. I’m an active subscriber to EQ and the community is still going strong. I wouldn’t be surprised if it has more active players than EQ2, and indeed I remember seeing evidence to the fact, though I can’t locate it at the moment.

    • malkav11 says:

      I would be surprised. EQ was a wasteland when I visited it a couple months back, whereas EQII still has some occasional wandering PCs. That said, I’m sure the majority of players in both games are at or near the level cap.

      And while EQII is a great game that I heartily recommend and am enjoying thoroughly, their plans for Extended are amazingly poorly thought through. Shoving “free” players off into their own ghetto of free2play server(s) and having an “optional” subscription that in fact enables the vast majority of the game yet still delivers less for your money than the traditional subscription plan is not the way to do this sort of thing.

      Then again, this is the company that brought Everquest to Mac by making one (1) release and allocating separate Mac only servers, then never releasing another expansion and rapidly abandoning so much as patching. *shrugs*

  14. ExplosiveCoot says:

    At first I was really excited about hearing that EQ2 would offer a free-play option; it’d be the perfect game to dip into and out of every so often, but the way this is being implemented is horrible.

    If I want to play the characters I’ve already created, I have to pay $35 (each!) to move them to a “free” server, causing them to lose all their gold in the process. Then I have to pay an unspecified amount to unlock their race and class (since they’re all not among the “free” races and classes). Finally, after all that paying if I want to use the highest rank of spells and combat skills in the game I need to pay $14.99 a month. If I don’t, I’m stuck using Adept spells (or paying $10 to use Expert spells) which are something like 25% to 50% less effective than the Master rank spells.

    The only reasoning I can come up with for how this is structured is that Sony is trying to offer an “unlimited free trial”-type promotion to get people interested enough to then start to pay $14.99. It sucks for people who are currently subscribed, though, as Sony has said they’re going to get rid of the free trial on current subscription servers after this launches, and you can’t transfer from the “free” server to the “subscription” servers which pretty much consigns them to a slow death.

    It’s really astounding how poorly thought out this is.

  15. Bayemon says:

    I agree this is not very well thought out or executed. If I understand it correctly they are segregating F2P and subscribers. The problem with this model is that it counters one of the big reasons (IMO) that Turbine has been successful.

    I was a WoW subscriber. My 3 core gaming friends would never come join me because they did not want to pay a subscription. With DDO being F2P we decided to give it a try. We have liked it and loved being able to play an MMO together. So much so I canceled my WoW account and subscribed to DDO. In addition one of my friends liked it so much he decided to subscribe as well. Net result is they picked up 4 players, 2 of which are paying. Not every story may be like ours, but this is a good thing for Turbine (and for me as a gamer as I can now get my friends to play an MMO with me.)

    We plan on checking out LOTRO here soon and may switch to that. When I saw a blurb last night that EQ2 was doing it I thought “Hmmmm, maybe we will do EQ2 instead of LOTRO…” but then I read about how they are executing it.

    I just do not think they get the logic of why Turbine has been succesful with the model. Maybe SOE does succeed with this despite the difference, but they are missing an opportunity with groups of friends like me and mine for sure.