EverQuest Franchise Director of Development Dave Georgeson laid out the monetization plans for EverQuest Next Landmark on the game’s forums today. Some aspects of it are bound to raise eyebrows, and Georgeson anticipated those responses, as he laid out SOE’s justification for the stickier points.
Of the five phases outlined in Georgeson’s plan, #1, #4, and #5 should be acceptable to pretty much everyone. #1 is the Founder’s Pack, which is ongoing and hasn’t met with much resistance. #4 involves players selling items on the Player Studio, which SOE will rightly take a cut of from each sale. And #5 is mostly about services, like name changes and extra claims, and vanity items.
It’s #2 and #3 that require a little more explanation. The first point of #2 is also about cosmetic appearances and shouldn’t rankle anyone’s feathers. It’s the second part that’s going to get people talking: SOE plans to sell resources. Georgeson admits right off that this makes it seem like they’re allowing people to “pay for power,” but he also goes on to say that the game’s current progression – which is about crafting better tools and making bigger and better structures – is not the planned end progression. Alpha and all that.
#3 also might get some people thinking “pay to win,” as SOE plans to allow people to purchase “time shortcut methods.” As he puts it:
Here’s a theoretical example: Let’s say you have to craft a recipe in order to make a “power upmy pick” potion so you can gather resources more quickly. The time shortcut option would be available as a button on your Collections sheet, so you could just buy that potion effect immediately instead of needing to craft it first. We’re going to create these “point of need” interfaces for things like paying for upkeep, renting market stalls, and a short list of other convenience items. These shortcuts will not be allowed to affect game balance and can be avoided completely through in game effort, if desired.
In neither case will players be able to purchase anything that isn’t available in game; in effect, both of parts two and three are about “time conveniences,” whether it relates to saving time gathering materials or crafting special items.
What remains to be seen is how big an impact these kinds of purchases will have on the game. As stated, the gathering/crafting/building that’s at the heart of the current gameplay isn’t the intended final gameplay progression. If they take on a role that’s like similar activities in other MMOs – namely gathering, crafting, and housing – I’m not too upset about them. In effect, this is the “basic” progression of EQNL, similar to leveling in most games, and what F2P game doesn’t offer XP boosts for leveling?
If that sort of thing is “leveling,” then what’s EQNL’s “endgame”? We know that the current alpha build just scratches the surface of what SOE wants to do with Landmark, and Georgeson says that that part of the game “is not the intended real progression.” In other words, we’re just leveling and exploring now; “raiding” will come later. If SOE monetizes that, it would be akin to letting players buy topend raid gear. In other words: highly unlikely, and definitely worthy of scorn if it happens.
Of course, it’s all we’ve got to go on at the moment, and I’d like for SOE to implement that new gameplay – or at least explain it a little more thoroughly – before they try to sell resources and shortcuts, just to keep the naysayers at bay.
What do you think of the EverQuest Next Landmark monetization plans? And if you don’t like it, how would you suggest SOE monetizes EQNL?