John Smedley Talks the Content Churn, Cheating and EQ Next
SOE boss John Smedley chats about free-to-play, the challenge of meeting content demands, and teases details for EverQuest Next.
Whether you love SOE of revile them, theyve been a key element in the MMO gaming space for a long time. EverQuest (EQ) was not the first MMORPG, but it brought the genre to the mainstream and paved the way for a stream of others. Without SOE, we likely wouldnt have the heavily saturated market that we have today.
This week SOE boss John Smedley sat down for chat with Gamasutra to talk about the risky decision to go free-to-play, the challenge of creating content for the modern day MMOG medium, his hatred for cheaters, and even tease a few details about EverQuest Next. While Smedley didnt go into the revenue numbers, he did offer a little information about how free-to-play has improved SOEs numbers, explaining that EverQuest II (EQII) has seen a 300% increase in players since the move while EQ has enjoyed a 125% increase in item sales. Both games have benefited from a 350% increase in overall registrations. PlanetSide 2 has drawn in more than 1.6 million registered users since launch with over 750,000 of those logging in each week.
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While not all of the players that join in end up paying for anything, Smedley doesnt mind. He sees them as additional game content, which is a good point. After all, who wants to play an empty game? Its one of SOEs core design strategies moving forward according to Smedley. In his opinion, developers will lose the content battle with players.
In my opinion, the days when companies can make content [generation] the number one strategy, in the kinds of games we make, are over, because we can't win the war. Star Wars [The Old Republic] proved that. Players bought it, loved it and they played the game. Then they left."
And hes right, at least as far as the speed in which players can churn through content in modern MMOG design thanks to reduced downtimes, increased soloability, the removal of many time consuming elements, and, well, I could write a long story about it. But suffice to say, modern MMOG gamers arent necessarily quicker, they just dont have as many things slowing them down while trailblazing a path to the all mighty carrot.
Smedley also touched on his hatred for cheaters, referencing one in particular fairly recently in which he banned from PlanetSide 2 and named on Twitter.
"The reason I took that step was because that guy was one of the senior people at one of the most famous AIMbotting sites there is," says Smedley. "I think cheaters are disgusting human beings - specifically when it comes to gaming.
Smedley closed out the interview with a brief discussion about EverQuest Next. The last bit of news we received was from last years SOE Live event where Smedley stated that the MMORPG was being completely rebuilt. Aside from that and a few tidbits from PC Gamer where Smedley discussed showing it off to the EQ & EQII teams, mum has been the word. At least it was until Smedley revealed this interesting little tidbit when questioned about the project.
"Players will get their hands on an actual release version of what we're doing late [this] year - and I don't mean a beta," says Smedley.
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