Earlier this month, Darkpaw Games and Daybreak Game Company released the Overseer system for EverQuest. Similar to a system in EverQuest II, as well as other MMORPGs, the Overseer system let players send Agent NPCs out on missions with a timer, returning with rewards for your character.
Shortly after its launch, however, Darkpaw made significant changes to the system, fixing bugs — which was good — and radically changing its reward structure — which was not so good, as perceived by the community. While I’m not an EQ player and can’t speak with expertise to the level of these changes, it’s clear that the response on the forums has been highly negative. One item that was originally obtained with the rewards from the system, McKenzie’s Special Brew, apparently rose in price from 167 Tetradrachms to 26,250 Tetradrachms. While some players accept that 167 was far too low of a price, a 160x raise in price has been seen as a radical overcorrection.
Compounding this issue is the fact that several players spent money on Agent Packs, with some players spending over $100 to make the most of the system which, as advertised, seemed to have very good returns. Now that those returns have been greatly diminished, many want refunds, but are being told by the company that that won’t be happening. “Bait and switch” is the catchphrase of the day.
It’s likely, however, that the issue isn’t due to any intentional malice on the part of Daybreak and Darkpaw but a simple internal error regarding the value of rewards. In researching this piece, I found an excellent blog post from a former EQ player who said that these kinds of mistakes aren’t new. He references an earlier system, Monster Missions, that similarly offered great rewards for little risk, which unsurprisingly led players to do those instead of actually playing their characters and doing traditional content. In summary, he said that “whoever designed the Overseer system was either comically naive, embarassingly uninformed or, most likely, both.”
So what, if anything, should Daybreak and Darkpaw do? Returning the rewards to their previous levels probably isn’t on the table, though some slightly lower cost might be acceptable. Refunds, even partial ones, should also probably be considered. That said, given everything that’s happened over the past few years, one might also question the wisdom of dropping chunks of $100 or more on anything Daybreak offers. Caveat froglok.
Thanks to MMOBomber Derek for providing us with this tip!