I thought my last article was a good one and I was hoping to let it sit and gather some good thoughts. It had some of the best posts I've read in some time. Tonight, however, John Smedley made an announcement that forced me to push that article down a notch and cover a new topic.
Tonight SOE announced that it will facilitate the selling of money, items, and characters on specially flagged Everquest 2 servers. This is perhaps the largest announcement of a feature or trend since I've started writing for Mobhunter.
The letter does not speak at all about doing something similar in Everquest and it is clear from the few folks I spoke to that they are only planning on considering this for EQ2 for the moment. One wonders where it may lead if successful.
There are a thousand facets to this topic. I can't begin to cover them all and hope to get this article out while the news is still hot so I will say this:
I think it's a mistake.
This is basically a trade between time and money. I play Everquest 2 and progress because I want to see new places. Now I, an employed yuppy with too much time on my hands, have justification to simply trade in a few bucks for the time it would take me to earn my progression. It completely changes the investment in EQ2. It also begins to show a disturbing trend towards quick fixes and direct response to player requests rather than considering the whole problem and where it can go.
It is important to understand that SOE is not creating these characters, money, or items but instead offering a safe transaction system so that players can sell among themselves. I had a much stronger reaction until this point became clear. It isn't like SOE is selling a level 30 any time they want, but I can buy a level 30 if someone is willing to sell it. SOE will not be establishing the price. Still, this adds a level of authority and validation to a practice that so far had been considered sleazy.
Everyone knows how much I support SOE as they move forward in Everquest. Lately, with the shift towards solo play and now this shift towards item, character, and money purchasing, I worry for the result to the social bonding of players in this game.
I don't play EQ for items or money or levels. I play this game to meet other players and go on adventures. I understand clearly the investment of spending time to earn levels to see new places and hunt in new lands. Now that line becomes gray. Should I spend my time leveling to 30 or should I just buy a level 30 and go read a giant George R.R. Martin tome instead?
There's a thousand facets to this subject and I have a feeling we're going to see a lot of them on the forums over the next week. Before you place judgment, make sure to read the letter a few times and sit and think about the issue. May Tunare watch over us.
19 April 2005
Here's a thread round up including quite a few posts by Smed and the other devs: