This week I got an email from Sony Online Entertainment announcing to me that they are launching EverQuest 2 Extended. What this is, is a free-to-play edition of EQ2. They aren’t doing it quite like normal, they are splitting it up into tiers. So there will be free to play, an extended version with a one time fee, their normal monthly fee, and then a new extended pay structure that gives you more access.
Initially, I was obviously intrigued. I mean, this game was one I played for a few years for awhile, and still have some fond memories. I wasn’t happy with their Kunark expansion as it made it too similar to WoW and just didn’t have the depth anymore and left, but the concept of being able to return at no cost is one that I obviously would have an interest in. After looking into their new structure, I am a bit torn though. Let’s run down the main differences between the main four tiers:
Bronze: Comes with only 2 character slots, access to 80 levels, 8 classes1 4 races, 20 quests, can’t send in game emails, up to adept skills, 2 bag slots, limited to 5 gold per level (wow), 0 Shared bank slots, restricted access to the broker (not sure how), can’t create a guild, and can only /say, /tell, /guild or /group chat with people.
Silver: This is an upgrade that costs $10, one time only. Pretty much the same as Bronze, except you get access to 3 character slots, Expert skills/spells, 3 bag slots, 20 gold per level, 2 shared bank slots, 40 quests, unlimited chat, and can create guilds.
Gold: Supposedly this is the standard that people already pay for, it is $15 a month and for that you get: access to all classes, 7 character slots, access to all spell/skill tiers and items, 6 bag slots, unlimited gold, can send in-game email, 8 shared bank slots, 75 quests, unlimited broker usage, and then obviously all upgrades from silver.
So that is it. Now in all this, there is one very important thing to notice in the various plans… the standard plan is actually being gimped in order to give more benefit to the Platinum plan. Namely, you will lose access to all but 4 of the player races, the remaining races that you know and love, you must now purchase separately. I suppose this isn’t entirely terrible… I mean you only need to make the purchase once, there are many races I’ve had no interest in playing either. For instance, I don’t think I’ve ever considered playing a Ratonga. But one question I have is how does this affect people who already have made that choice in their characters? Would you not get access to those anymore? Currently it looks like the 4 races you get access to are Barbarian, Erudite, Half-Elf and Human. This is quite the limitation in the game if you ask me. Heck I think you should have least gotten half of the races by paying $15 a month. Also how is this affected by races which are promoted with the expansions such as the Fae or the Sarnak, shouldn’t those be just part of buying the expansion at the least?
Secondly, if you do decide to downgrade your account from Gold to the free account, say because you are going through financial hardship, how does that work with characters? I have a feeling this process isn’t going to work smoothly at all. In fact, in the beta, if you get the Extended client, you don’t even have the choice of using your existing account at all. So my guess is, you cancel your old account, and then you can have the free account and start all over. You don’t get to choose which 2 characters you keep, or even have them randomly selected for you. This kind of sucks for established players.
Overall, I think their extended idea is terrible if you are an existing player. For the same price, you essentially got a worse account. If you left the game and may want to play for it, you just don’t want to pay for it, this might not be a terrible thing, and for that reason may be decent for existing players. After all, more people on means more people to play with. I am considering playing now for free, though I will probably shell out the $10 for the upgraded silver. No reason not to.
Either way, neither account would be very good for anyone who even remotely wants to raid or even go through some of the better instances. Although, I do think I remember awhile ago hearing that SOE was planning on putting in scaling raids and instances so that a weaker group could go through with lesser rewards just to be able to play the content so maybe it isn’t even that huge a deal.
I do think the whole thing should be interesting to see play out. I think making the Gold account less worthwhile is a huge mistake, and I have a feeling they will lose customers over it. I don’t think the game can really afford to lose more. Maybe they feel that the amount they gain from the free accounts will overpower what they lose. But I don’t think that particular idea worked well for SOE with Star Wars Galaxies redo.
- Those classes include Templar, Inquisitor, Guardian, Berzerker, Warlock, Wizard, Swashbuckler and Brigand. The one nice thing about this list is that the Fighter types, Rogue types, and Priest types can all be difficult to find in game (or at least that’s how it used to be), so having free accounts fill in these gaps at least for groups is kind of nice. ↩
- I remember them trying something like this in EQ1 where for around $250 a year you got access to special servers and such, seems they are ditching a lot of the bonuses you got there and lowering the cost slightly. ↩
- Wonder if you get the latest expansion every year as part of the cost… considering it is $50 more expensive for this plan than gold, and expansions usually cost $30-50, there isn’t a reason not to get this if you are playing a year, this is just locking people in for the full year basically. ↩