President of Sony Online Entertainment, John Smedley has a lot to be proud of but one shining example of MMO gaming continues to thrive amongst the threat of new generation games. EverQuest is still going strong after 10 years and Smedley is very ready to toot the EQ horn in this interview with Gamasutra.
In part because the EverQuest community has been going for ten years at this point, some people say it's narrowing down to only including the most hardcore of players. Do you agree with that assessment?
JS: Well, it's still one of the largest MMOs in North America. It also happens to be one of the most profitable, and we're still acquiring new customers. So I don't think we're there yet.
I think it is certainly harder-core than EverQuest or [World of Warcraft] or some other games, mostly because we made the game we made ten years ago -- actually thirteen years ago, if you count the development time -- and gaming tastes have changed. There are a lot of things in EQ that we probably wouldn't do twice, but that's part of the attraction for some people. I think it's fair to say it's harder-core.
Do you think it's easier to cater to that hardcore group? It could potentially be that they really understand what they want, or it could be that they're extremely finicky.
JS: It's a base that we know real well, so over the years we've spent a lot of time researching what they like and what they don't like. If you're reading a series of books by a particular author, the fans of that author know what they're getting when they read him.
It's the same kind of feeling; when we're making EverQuest expansions, we try to add new things and change things up and do as much as we can in ways we think they'll appreciate.
How do you feel about EverQuest versus EverQuest II? It seems interesting to have both going in tandem.
JS: It's been a challenge for us. Definitely, we didn't know what we were getting into when we made the quote-unquote sequel. It's been interesting keeping both games going, but they both developed their own userbases, and they are pretty different userbases, so over time we've been able to figure that out.
How much of a lifespan do you see for the original EverQuest?
JS: It looks to me like there's no stopping it. I don't even want to predict it. Ten years ago it looked to me like it would be two years. So, it's got years to come. And when we say "the EverQuest franchise," we'll be visiting that world again, and we're definitely in development on some things. I don't want to comment yet, but we're not going to leaving it stale.
How has EverQuest done on consoles?
JS: Well, EverQuest Online Adventures on PlayStation 2 is still operating to this day. There aren't a ton of people playing it -- I think we were about two years two early for that. We released with the launch of the PlayStation 2 network adapter, and I think we were a little early to market with that one.
Will that be revisited?
JS: Oh, absolutely. We are committed to doing PlayStation 3 and PC games. We want to see our users be able to access stuff from as many places as possible.
Read more of this interview with John Smedley over at Gamasutra!