John Smedley Talks the Content Churn, Cheating and EQ Next

Updated Thu, Jul 11, 2013 by Martuk

Whether you love SOE of revile them, they’ve 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 wouldn’t 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 didn’t go into the revenue numbers, he did offer a little information about how free-to-play has improved SOE’s 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.

Judge-Smed

Judge Smed doesn't like cheating but he does like teasing.

While not all of the players that join in end up paying for anything, Smedley doesn’t mind. He sees them as additional game content, which is a good point. After all, who wants to play an empty game? It’s one of SOE’s 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 he’s 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 aren’t necessarily quicker, they just don’t 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 year’s 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.

Source: Gamasutra

John Smedley was and still is ahead of the game, he understands MMO's as a business model and has the passion to create unique experiences that are more human and non-linear. I still respect the original Everquest immensely and honestly feel there has been no MMORPG to date to capture the sense, wonder and community of it. It all boiled down to game design which you can go back and play Everquest to this day and it still retains that magic.

Everquest was intelligent because of the roots in text based mud's and it lent to the sense of discovery and wonder and the difficulty made you live the game instead of play it which I think still has a place these days and even more so as people realize that quick play MMORPG's take just as much time and are not as satisfying and overall are very generic.

I'm hoping Everquest Next is going to be just as living and breathing of an MMORPG as the original, if so I will be happy to rest my hat there.

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