John Smedley on SOE's Philosophy
Say what you will about Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) boss John Smedley, but never say heÂs not opinionated or afraid to address criticism. After SOEÂs announcement that it would be changing its subscription model benefits last week, there was understandably some confusion. The initial message wasnÂt entirely clear as to what the player would be receiving and in turn sounded as though the All Access pass would be taking a hit. But more recent information explains just how wrong that was.
The actual plan that SOE is currently pitching seems to indicate a much better benefit for subscribers by taking a subscribe-to-one-subscribe Âto-all approach. To clarify, if you pay a normal monthly subscription at $14.99 for one game, youÂll get the All Access package instead, granting you the premium deal for all of SOEÂs games. To add to that, Smedley also confirmed that the current plan is to allow players to choose one item in each game per month for up to 2k Station Cash in cost, quite a bit more than the current 500 SC stipend offers to subscribers.
Despite that, there are still plenty of people unhappy about the change, and some have even taken to various forums and community sites to call SOE out for being greedy. To address some of the criticism as well as explain SOEÂs philosophy, Smedley took to Reddit once again today to offer this lengthy post.
When I read through all the posts here and on our forums, it never ceases to amaze me how people can think we're just money grubbing jerks because we're trying to make money.
I can tell you from the bottom of my heart that's just not how we think. Most people I know in the games business are in it because there is literally nothing else they want to do ever. From the time I was in high school I knew that's what I wanted to do. The same is true for a lot of people here at SOE and around the industry.
Obviously one of our goals as a corporation is most certainly profit. And yes, when you guys buy our stuff it makes us happy. But money has nothing to do with why it makes us happy. We're happy because you guys bought something we (or one of our other players made).
We're in the middle of developing Everquest Next Landmark (on schedule right now for end of this month). We rebooted the game 3 times. It was a massive delay and it hurt us financially. But it was the right thing to do for us, and for the industry. Most importantly you all are going to get to play something we're very proud of and we think is a whole lot of fun.
I believe a lot of this rhetoric is the result of us not being transparent enough, so we're going to change that. I want us to start explaining the "why" in the decisions we make.. particularly the financial ones.
The changes we originally proposed would not have made us more money than the previous plan. Even if some people cancelled, though to be honest we thought our plan was pretty darn awesome and you would love it.
The same is true for a lot of the decisions we make. We're trying to make life better for you, and yes.. for us too. But while some of those decisions are financially based, most aren't. It's usually something to clean up a tangled process or solve other problems.
So. how do we really feel about monetization?
Here it is.
We believe if we make great games, we'll make money.
In that order.
So I therefore am going to make it one of my personal missions to explain the thought process behind our business decisions. I want to be able to have an honest enough dialog that I can actually tell you "yeah this is important to our bottom line.. that's why we did it"... and have you at least not question whether that's the real reason. You may disagree with it, but at least you'll be able to make a reasonably informed judgement as to whether or not we're the greedy company some of you seem to think that we are, but at least you'll hear the why.
My hope is that by doing this we can at least get people to say "ok. that makes sense.. I don't love it but it makes sense and I'm ok with it". And if you don't, then we have work to do.