SOE: Content Generation Can No Longer Be #1 MMO Strategy

SOE President John Smedley believes content generation as a strategy to keep MMOs alive is no longer viable, pointing to SWTOR as an example. Instead, he believes that allowing players to interact in meaningful ways is the way to letting an MMO to sustain itself.

Smedley said, of PlanetSide 2:

“Everybody is content for everyone else. That’s the core of our strategy moving forward. A simple way to put it is: By allowing players to interact with each other, we’re providing tools. It’s like we’re building a gladiator arena and throwing in the swords. … We might bust the tigers out or bring in new kinds of weapons, like a tank. 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.”

According to Smedley, since the move to free-to-play, SOE has seen a 300 percent increase in new players for EverQuest 2, a 125 percent increase in item sales for EverQuest and a 350 percent bump in overall registrations. Planetside 2 has more than 1.6 million registered users, with 750,000 logging in to play every week, and roughly 10 percent of players paying for items.

What has Smedley most excited, however, is EverQuest Next, for which we can expect a much bigger reveal this year. He said:

“There are times you know something and you’re bursting to talk about it – and that is the case here. We’re betting the company’s future on this game. … The last EverQuest game launched in 2005. We’ve blown up two design ideas over the last four years because they were too ‘me too.’ It wasn’t enough of a change. We settled on a design that, when we looked at it, everyone in the room thought we were crazy. We gave it a week and came back, and we all said ‘yeah, we’re still crazy, but we can’t get the idea out of our heads. … It’s going to be the world’s largest sandbox game.”

When will players be able to get their hands on EverQuest Next? “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.

via Gamasutra

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1 Comment on SOE: Content Generation Can No Longer Be #1 MMO Strategy


On January 25, 2013 at 8:19 am

I partially agree with his statement, but disagree with his alternative. Planetside 2 cannot be compared to games like EQ2 because Planetside is in essence a giant competitive game, akin to games like Battlefield, which the “gladiator arena” ideology works perfectly for.

I think MMO devs need to allow themselves to get away from the traditional way in which they keep gamers playing their games, time sinks and grinding. Every single PvE focused MMO has some form of time sink or grind involved, and whether it’s “optional” or not doesn’t make it good game design. Single-player RPG’s do not suffer from this because they’re not trying to retain customers artificially. You progress through games like Skyrim and Dragon Age naturally, and are awarded further by doing side-content. By end game they have achieved everything they set out to achieve with that character. When people finish these games, what do they do? If they enjoyed themselves they play it again, making a different character and choices to see the storyline from a different angle. Combine this with the ability to play with other people (the very nature of MMO’s), and you have great potential to keep players playing without burning them out. This is far better than the current method of exploiting addiction to keep players hooked, which is not much different than a drug.