Alternate Sources of Revenue

Posted: November 19, 2007 by Xeavn in Everquest 2, General Game Concepts, SOE
Tags: , ,

The sign on the right says, “No ads. No hitcounts. No salaries.” I am not really sure why Kendricke has chosen to not run advertisements on Clockwork, but I am glad that we are not doing so. When any site starts running ads, it is my opinion that your site becomes at least partially about selling whatever product you are advertising. After all that is the point of advertising, to sell something. At the same time I also understand the need for many fan sites to run ads in order to pay the bills. Many of the sites that I visit on a daily basis are advertisement supported. Some sites do this by running ads that fit the theme of their site, others run whatever ads they can get paid the most to run.

Today I want to talk about the things Sony has been doing lately to bring in an extra buck, and as I am sure many of you have noticed, one of these things was to start running advertisements on their websites. Everquest, Everquest 2, The Station site, and EQ2 Players are all currently running advertisements. These are not ads that are focused or targeted at gamers, or ads for Sony products or other Sony games, but ads that really have nothing to do with Everquest or really any of their games or products.

Discover Ad

The above screenshot pulled from Sony’s EQ2 Players website is an advertisement for Discovery Card. Sure this is something that an Everquest II player might be interested in, but it is completely out of place on what would otherwise be a very professional looking gaming site. Does Sony need the money so badly that they now have to advertise in order to keep their sites running? It destroys the theme of the sites, it looks bad, and it sends the message that they care more about money, than they care about the games they are making. Not really the kind of thing I would want to tell persepective new players to a game.

Beckett Ad

As bad as the last advertisement was, check out this next one. Thats right, Sony will give you an exclusive in game item for signing up with their next advertising partner. An item you can’t get unless you do so. The item in case anyone is wondering in a nice picture called “The Portrait of Venril Sathir”. It is a furniture item, that can be hung in your house.  A very nice furniture item, featuring a very large portrait of an iskar, complete with moving mist inside the picture. So for $16.99, you to can own this item.

I don’t know if that upsets anyone else, but it really makes me mad. I am a fairly firm believer that the game should stay in the game and not start crossing boundaries out into reality. Why wasn’t this put in as an item for carpenters to make? Maybe it could have been a bonus reward for a hard quest. Instead we are left with a nice piece of furniture that is basically bought for cash. This is only about a half stepped removed from selling in game items right out of the station store. Yes, it was only a piece of furniture this time, and in the long run has little effect on gameplay, but it feels like a very bad step, in a very bad direction.

The last thing that Sony has been doing lately to bring in more money is the recent collectible card game called Legends of Norrath. I really don’t have a problem with Sony wanting to create a CCG based around Everquest. If they build a good enough card game, and people are willing to buy and play it based on its own merits, then more power to them. If Sony wants to include an in game client so that I can challenge other Everquest II players who are enjoying it, I can live with that. What began to worry me was when they added loot items to the cards. These are basically cards that can be redeemed for an in game item. To start with they were mostly just fluff items, mounts that looked different, some furniture items, and some items that would give an illusion to the player using them. Again these were items that would have been fun to acquire through an in game mechanic, but were instead reserved for those players who have chosen to spend some sum of cash. Legends of Norrath is a CCG, and so that means the amount of money you spend to get an specific ‘loot item’ will entirely depend on the cards you happen to open. This means the more you spend the more likely it is you will get the card you are after, or be able to trade for it.

Still this effected game play little, because for the most part the loot items didn’t really effect anything you could or couldn’t do in game. The main exceptions to this were the potions which could speed up leveling and achievements, and the Stein of the Alesmith which would allow for quicker travel by being able to bind to a bar. Then just recently they started selling a Limited Edition Tournament pack, and with it came a guaranteed loot card called Bottled Breath.


Bottled Breath

Bottled Breath will heal 100% of the user’s health once a day. It takes 3 seconds to cast. (I have a new piece of armor reducing beneficial cast speed by 1%) All the sudden, Legends of Norrath has gone from a fun little side game to giving rewards that will effect game play. That is a great item, even with only being able to use it once a day. What if your main raid tank on a hard boss fight has one of these? It could be the difference between winning a fight, and losing one, assuming that it was used correctly. Sure the 3 second cast makes it a lot harder to time when to use it, but it is also the only thing saving that charm from being really overpowered. So how do you acquire this nice little item? Well you can’t anymore, but if you had played in the LoN tournaments the past couple of weekends you would have gotten one. The downside being you had to stay for the entire tournament. Alternatively you could have just shelled out the $10 dollars and bought it with a tournament pack when it was available. It doesn’t drop in game, it doesn’t come from a really hard quest, or from that hard raid. You had to buy it.

That scares me. I will admit it. Sony is walking a very fine line. What if they start releasing more items like this? Items that would really make it a much easier game for those that have chosen to spend their money. What if guilds start requiring that you have some of these items to be a raider? What if the next round of loot items start bring real benefits with it? I have seen the occasional MUD do this, as well as the occasional browser based game. After all if power is available for money, the best player is no longer the most skilled player, but the one with the deepest pockets.

  1. Pantheros says:

    I totally agree. There is a time for and place for money to be made, but in-game is not that place. We pay for our subscriptions, we should be able to access the materials that are included within those subscriptions without any such hindrances.

    Although, on the other side of the coin, if you look in the real world scenario, check out pretty much any magazine. Almost garaunteed there is, aside from the usual advertisements, some kind of card stuffed in there, offering you some “amazing” deal on a break-through product.

    I think overall, however, that the game experience should be more or less a level playing field. I have no problems with the little rewards from LoN, such as the mounts or other items that have no real game play advantages, other than looking cool. That way, some kid who works hard just to be able to get his subscription paid for by his parents is going to be on the same playing field as far as items as the thirty-somthing fellow who has much more disposable income.

    Just my thoughts…

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