Yesterday, SOE released a FAQ discussing Station Cash, which (in their words) is SOE's "new virtual currency that players can buy to fund a virtual wallet. Once a wallet has been funded, Station Cash can be used to purchase premium in-game items through the in-game Marketplace in EverQuest® and EverQuest® II."
We caught up with SOE president John Smedley to briefly discuss what Station Cash will mean to SOE's venerable stable of MMORPGs now and in the future.
Ten Ton Hammer: Having a partial items for cash and subscription model is a little outside the ordinary for MMOGs. What caused SOE to go in such a radical direction?
John Smedley: "Over time we want Station Cash to be used for a lot of cool stuff (including subscriptions at some point). That will include things like getting a photo of your guild physically mailed to you, or a t-shirt of your character. We want it to be our currency across all our games. It really isn't a radical change in direction from our perspective. EQ and EQ 2 are not going to switch to being microtransaction based games. We're just adding some additional cool things players can do."
Is this a model you think other companies will attempt to incorporate?
"I'm not sure. I think this model paves the way for new ways of monetizing MMOs. Not everything needs to be a subscription in the future."
Is this an experiment in your current games? Are there plans to go fully Free-to-Play?
"This isn't an experiment and we aren't going free to play."
SOE is known for its dedicated and loyal fanbase. How are you expecting the community to react?
"Our fanbase is always very vocal in telling us how they feel about our games. I would expect there to be some positive and some negative. I think mostly people are just going to play the games. Some will try it, and others won't."
Does this indicate a change in the overall SOE revenue model for MMORPGs?
"No... it is adding another model though and one that should allow us to do a lot of cool things."
Ten Ton Hammer thanks SOE's John Smedley, Katie Hanson, and Courtney for making time for this interview.
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