Website Showdown

Posted: October 18, 2007 by Xeavn in Everquest 2, Gaming Sites, SOE, World of Warcraft
Tags: , , ,

As I turned on my computer this morning, and headed to the Everquest 2 website, my only thoughts were on finishing the article I had begun writing. It was an article doing a comparison between Everquest 2’s old outdated site, and World of Warcraft’s more recently updated site. Much to my surprise the site that showed up on my screen was not the same site I had been reviewing yesterday. Sony had finally updated their site!

Does that mean that the article is no longer needed? Well I don’t think so. If anything it is a good chance to go back and see how the new site has changed from the old site, and how the new site compares with the old site. On top of that I can still see how it stacks up against World of Warcraft’s site.

I am going to compare a lot of general features from both sites, as well as some specifics. I will try and give each website a score from 1 to 5 on how well I think they did, and I will explain why I gave it that score.

Website Design
Website design is how the web page is built, and how accessible is it to different users.

Everquest 2

  • The new website design is far better than the old website design. This is a category where I have to say Sony improved considerably. The old website used Flash and if you didn’t have flash you weren’t able to see it all. The new website seems to be mostly written in Java, but will still display most of the information with Javascript disabled. It even still looks good with Javascript disabled. In my mind this is a vast improvement.

    Final Score: 4

World of Warcraft

  • The front page of World of Warcraft makes pretty heavy use of Javascript as well, but is viewable with Javascript disabled. It is hard to look at, and hard to navigate without the Javascript, but it is possible. The Armory site for World of Warcraft however is worthless without the Javascript turned on. Overall the website will allow navigation and some of the features though.

    Final Score: 3.5

Originally I had the scores tied in this category. I wasn’t impressed with Everquest 2’s old Flash site, but at the same time World of Warcraft’s was hard to view without Javascript. I think most gaming companies are after a website that looks cool, and I think most users enjoy the cool features that this allows. Everquest 2’s current new site handles this better with less dependence on fancy controls to do so. To me that gives them the win in this category. For most users though, it likely won’t matter how its implemented.

Front Page
The first page that the user sees when visiting the gaming website. It makes the first impression to a new player checking the game out, and typically will be the easiest way to navigate to further information.

Everquest 2

  • The new Everquest 2 site has the navigation menu at the top of the page that will take the user to other sections of the website, including a link to the Forums. The front page is now nearly a full page piece of artwork advertising for the Rise of Kunark release. It looks really amazing, and it is much better than the cluttered approach from the previous site. Down below is an oval changing banner that highlights some of the other recent changes. There is a news and announcements list, and a link to a 14 day free trial. Graphically this is a huge boost over the old site, and it pulls in some of the older features in a much cleaner and nicer way. Sadly this is marred by the advertisement at the bottom of the screen. It is a little more hidden than the older site, which I don’t understand. If you are going to hide the fact that you are displaying advertisements for other sites, why include them at all?

    Final Score: 3.0

World of Warcraft

  • World of Warcraft has the navigation menu on the left side of the page, and it is fairly extensive. It will take the user to almost any page that they are looking for, and has links to a wide variety of information about the game. At the top, they have a changing banner advertising some of their more recent changes. In the main section of the website, the most recent news is listed. This can be anything from upcoming contests, to winners of recent contests, new features, guides, or just fan artwork. They have links to a 10 day free trial, and a small banner for the upcoming Wrath of the Lich King expansion. World of Warcraft has a lot of information on their front page, but at the same time they still manage to convey a feel for the game through it all. Styled borders, and art in the background help with this.

    Final Score: 4.0

I have to give the win to World of Warcraft in this category. Everquest 2 has vastly improved their front page with the most recent changes, but it still doesn’t bring the kind of information that World of Warcraft does, and it has a big glaring advertisement at the bottom. WoW allows for quick navigation to any portion of their site from their front page, and it is easy to use.

Character Information
For current players, what information does the website allow them access to? What can they find out about themselves, and their fellow players from the website? Only information that can be found for free will be considered.

Everquest 2

  • Everquest 2 has their EQ2 Players site for current players. It remains unchanged with their most recent website changes. I can search for Characters, Guilds or Items & Spells. Guild Search will allow you to pull up information on a guild. This shows how the guild is doing as far as achievements, how many total members, how many unique members, guild status earned, and a breakdown of the number of members of each class. Below this is an actual listing of all the members in the guild, as well as some basic information about each member such as level, class, trade skill class and when they last played.

  • If you search for a character or choose one from the guild list, you are taken to the character page. This will show you the characters stats, as well as the gear that they are currently wearing. The only downside here is that the character can choose to not show this information. If they do so you are meet with an Access Denied screen informing you that the owner has restricted access. There are also tabs to find out about Achievements, Factions and Skills but these have all been restricted to paying users only.

  • You can also lookup the spells for each class. The biggest problem is that the listings are no longer accurate. It contains current spells as well as numerous master abilities which have since been combined into a single spell, and older spells from before the archetypes were removed. When you go to find out more information about the spell, sadly this is restricted to paying users only.

  • The final search available is an item search. The search itself is fairly detailed, allowing you to narrow your search to just your class in a level range, for a certain slot even. You want a primary attribute on it? It can do that to. To bad you won’t actually be able to view anything about the results except the name of the item. Any other information is once again restricted.

The site is usable, and has some very good features for current players, as well as guilds. A lot of sections are cluttered and out of date, but if you know where to look some of the information you would want is available, and for free. A lot more however is restricted to paying users, and isn’t available.

Final Score : 3.5

World of Warcraft

  • A majority of World of Warcraft’s information on current players is available from their Armory site. They give you the ability to search Characters, Guilds, Arena Teams and Items. I will start with guilds again. After selecting a guild from the guild search you are show some very basic information about the guild, as well as a paged list of members. This is show under the Guild Roster tab. Another Guild Statistics tab is available at the top, and you can switch over and see a breakdown of the everyone in the guild by race, class and level.

  • Once again I select a member, or I could find one by searching and click on their name. This takes me to page showing the players stats, as well as a inventory panel of everything they are wearing. In the upper right hand corner is a small tab that will allow me to pin the character. By doing so, I can then compare whatever the pinned character is wearing to any other character I look at. Even better, after my character is pinned, I can go to any slot, and search for an upgrade. It will display a list of usable equipment that is usually comparable or better to what you are currently wearing. It will also display how it is obtained, and let you see the stats of the item.

  • On to the best part of the Armory Search, looking for items. Say for instance I want to find a needed upgrade, such as Devout Mantle for my Paladin. All I have to do is search for it, or click on the item in a friend’s profile if he is wearing one, and I am taken to the item page. It shows me that the item is dropped from Solakar Flamewreath in Blackrock Spires. It shows me the stats of the item, and the additional bonuses that will be added if I pick up the rest of the Devout set. It shows me that the drop percentage is low between 15 and 24 percent. It shows me that the mantle is used in a couple of quests, and what it will sell for if I know longer need them.

  • Spells are not actually listed in the Armory for World of Warcraft. They are instead listed under the appropriate class in the class section of the main page. This is a good spot for them to be listed, and although I couldn’t find exact numbers for each spell, I was able to find a pretty good description for each spell.

World of Warcraft does an excellent job in bringing current players a ton of information about the game from their website. If you want to know what the Arena team that smoked you last week was wearing you can find it. If you want to know where to find that cool looking helmet, you can find it. It you want to compare your Main Tanks equipment to the Off Tank, you can do it.

Final Score: 4.5

World of Warcraft pretty easily wins this category. If Sony didn’t have half of their EQ2Players website behind lock and credit card then it might have been a little closer. At the same time it is hard to deny that Blizzard has put an amazing amount of polish into their Armory site. It looks very good because of all that hard work, and it is incredibly easy to use.

General Information
In this section, I will take a look at what information is offered on both of the sites. Class listings, Race information, screenshots, and guides are all typically found somewhere on the site. How well is this information presented, is it available, and how good is the information?

Everquest 2

  • The information offered on Everquest 2’s website didn’t appear to change much with the website update. It was made to look much better, but additional information for the most part wasn’t added. Everquest 2 has 3 main sections where information can be found: Exploring the game, Media and Community.

  • Exploring the Game contains the most information. It has a brief Game Overview section which is mainly just trying to sell you on buying the upcoming RoK expansion, and explains that it will contain all the previous expansions with it. Features is a quick overview of some of the things that Everquest 2 allows the player to do in the game. It looks very similar to what I would expect to find on the back of the box.

  • The real information contained in the Exploring the Game section is in Races, Classes and Locations. Races gives a one paragraph explanation of each race, as well as some pretty cool art for each of the 19 races. Most of the interesting racial information from the older site has actually been cute out. No racial stats are listed anymore. No racial abilities are listed anymore.

  • Classes is very similar. It shows a brief one paragraph description of the class, and a cool picture that more or less represents the class. No spell information is listed here, although that can be found under the EQ2 Players site. No information on typical play styles, or guides on how to start your own chosen class.

  • Locations is pretty much a single screenshot from each of the major cities, and some of the major islands. It covers Neriak, Freeport, Qeynos, Island of Ro, Faydwer, and the upcoming Kunark. It gives a brief description of each, and you get a little bit of a feel for each area.

  • The Media sections contains a link to screenshots and video’s. These seem to be pretty good, with half a dozen video’s including trailers for all of the expansions and a small but varied list of screenshots covering most of the expansions and adventure packs.

  • The Community section lists out links to EQ2 Players and some of the different sections that are available under EQ2 Players such as Guilds. It also has a link to the patch notes page on EQ2 Players were you can see the most recent changes that have happened to Everquest 2.

The information listed across the Everquest 2 site isn’t bad. I like that it is more up to date than the it previously was on the older version, but I dislike that some of the information that you used to be able to find is no longer listed. It doesn’t’ seem like the site was designed to be seen by anybody but new players and doesn’t add a lot of information that would be useful to anyone who has played more than an hour.

Final Score: 3

World of Warcraft

  • World of Warcraft in comparison offers an amazing amount of information to both the new and veteran player alike. World of Warcraft has 11 informational links on the left side of their site, and each of those areas contains somewhere between 4 and 12 links each. Guides on Getting Started, Introduction to the game, as well as areas like Player vs Player where you can look up the rewards for participating in PvP.

  • I want to touch on a couple of the sections that are similar to Everquest 2 just so that I can make a comparison for those sections. So although I won’t be covering everything they offer, I will try to highlight some sections I find important.

  • The first I want to look at is Classes. World of Warcraft does an awesome job on their class section. For each class it gives a couple of paragraphs on the class, letting you know about the class. This isn’t too much different the information I was able to get in Everquest 2, but on top of that class strength and weaknesses are listed, Challenges for the class, what races can choose this class, as well as equipment and weapons that the class can use, and starting stats for each of the races that can pick the class.

  • Under the races tab you can find out everything you need to know about a given race. It has a brief description of the race, as well as a racial traits, and classes that the race can be. It lets you know the races starting location, home city, and racial mount.

  • World of Warcraft has a World link similar to the locations link that Everquest 2 had. They have a couple of different choices, the regular world map, and the outlands map. Both show major cities, important locations and flight paths to help you get between your chosen destinations. You can pull information on any major dungeon finding out where it is located, the appropriate level range, and how many players you can take into it. Information is listed for all the major cites as well, and maps of those cities are available.

  • Other things worth looking at that are available on the World of Warcraft website. They have a screenshot of the day, if you wish to view previous ones, there are over a 1000 available. They have a dozen or so movies in their media section. Cool links include Encyclopedia where you can look and learn about the lore and background behind the game, talent calculator where you can play with any classes talents, and find out how you want to spend your talent points. Event Calendar shows all the holidays and gives information on the festivities surrounding them.

There is very little information that I could want, that isn’t already listed on the World of Warcraft site. They have information everywhere, and it is easy to find, easy to get to, and usually looks cool too. I could probably write another couple of pages just trying to cover everything World of Warcraft offers it players, and still probably not have touched on it all.

Final Score: 5.0

World of Warcraft handily takes the final category, due to the huge effort they have put into keeping their players informed about their game. Everquest 2 didn’t look too bad either until I started comparing the two, and only then did it become clear how little information you can really learn on Everquest 2’s website.

In the end Everquest 2 only managed to barely take the Game Design category. Of course all scores are merely my opinion and probably don’t even reflect the scores that other writers here might have assigned. I think the Game Design category is a good one for Everquest 2 to win. It means they have skilled people working on their site, and if they are allowed perhaps in the future we will start seeing some higher quality information added. If the web designers at Sony are ever wondering what can be added, take a glance around Blizzard’s World of Warcraft site. Even better ask your players what they would like to see. I am sure many of us have plenty of ideas.

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Comments
  1. Wilhelm2451 says:

    I saw that SOE updated the EQ2 page and left the ad banner in there. It is a feature of all of the wholly owned SOE game pages. (SWG, MxO, and POTBS are all free of the banners on their sites.)

    When I went to look at the updated EQ2 page, I got a flashing, dayglo GameTap (competitor!) banner ad that looked completely out of place on the page. Nice.

    What are they thinking with this?

    At least I have not seen an IGE ad there… yet.

  2. Xeavn says:

    Yes, I think it is nearly universally agreeded that the ad banner is a bad idea. I didn’t want to spend to much time on it, but felt I had to at least mention it. This article turned out to be somewhat longer than I expected, and so I didn’t really have room for a full discussion on it.

    At some point I may have to write an article on just the ad banner if Kendricke or Zobek doesn’t beat me to it.

  3. Kendricke says:

    Go for it, I’m neck deep in guides and game mechanics discussions.

  4. Wilhelm2451 says:

    Sorry to draw just that point out of your fine article, but those ads have been like a scab that won’t heal since Kendricke pointed them out. I keep trying to figure out the scenario where those ads make sense. Maybe if they were only for other Sony products… maybe. But Classmates.com? And GameTap? Oy!

    Plus, I need to draw attention away from The Armory because I had a short piece on it lined up for next week, and now you’ve gone and analyzed it far more deeply than I ever will!

  5. Chris says:

    Maybe the classmates.com adds are part of their new marketing strategy. Look up old friends you have not spoken to in years and get them to play EQ2. 😉

  6. Kendricke says:

    What really, really annoys me is the fact that I’m paying for multiple EQ2players accounts…and even logging in to my paid accounts can’t make the ads go away.

    I’m paying to see ads.

  7. Brennan says:

    At least EQ2 doesn’t have generic lore like World of Warhammer I mean WarCraft

  8. Kendricke says:

    Though that may be, perhaps you’d be so kind as to show us the lore on the Everquest 2 site.

  9. Brennan says:

    Yes I think they should make the lore more visible… currently you have to go to the eq2players forums for the wealth of it

  10. Kendricke says:

    Which is part of the point we’re raising here with this article.

    To clarify – this was not a comparison of World of Warcraft the game vs. Everquest II the game. It was not a comparison on game mechanics, art, content, community, or even development teams.

    It’s an article comparing one game’s website to another, as a point by point/feature by feature comparison.

  11. Xeavn says:

    I personally like World of Warcraft’s lore, for the most part. (Some of the more recent changes from WC3 to WoW do rub me the wrong way.) That said, I like the Everquest lore even more. I enjoy reading it, I enjoy seeing it in game. In fact I just ran another quest last night that was talking about Kunark, and some of the lore and characters behind it. It was great, and I had a lot of fun. The problem is you can’t easily find this information outside of the game. This would be the kind of information that would be great to see on the Everquest 2 website. This is the kind of thing that Blizzard already offers thier players on thier website.

  12. Chris says:

    If you use firefox there is an add on extension called adblock. You can use that to block all the adds on Everquest2.com and EQ2players.com. Not the best solution but at least it keep us from having to look at them.

  13. Kendricke says:

    I hear what you’re saying, Chris. I just think that players coming up with workarounds to problems created by design studios is probably not the best solution. 😉

  14. Ogrebears says:

    I brought up the ad issue a week or 2 in the froms, and Grimwell and a few other mob responded to it, on why there ads and stuff like that

    http://forums.station.sony.com/eq2/posts/list.m?topic_id=385724

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