It doesn’t take very long to find a few choice words regarding SOE’s new “Living Legacy” promotion from existing customers:
“But wait a second, what about those loyal customers, who never left. Or what about those people who subscribed last month, or the month before, still ‘recently’ returning.” – Stargace, MMO Quests
“In a stroke of a pen, SOE signed away any reason at all to explore or try difficult dungeons.” – Tipa, West Karana
“Yeah, I sound bitter. I do think the Living Legacy program is fantastic, but I cannot for the life of me see why they didn’t include rewards for those who are currently playing Everquest II.” – Jaye, Journeys with Jaye
Even on the official forums, it doesn’t take long to find more than a couple of long time customers who feel left out:
Qupe: “Let me get this straight: Loyal and existing subscribers who chose to CONTINUE playing (and paying for) Everquest 2 get absolutely nothing via this promotion?”
Auroz: “Ditto to the fact that it just plain sucks that people who have QUIT or people who ‘recruit’ for this company get rewarded and the people who have been playing the enjoying the game actively with no cancellations.. get snubbed.”
Lunah: “After all this time I am to be punished and not get the ingame items or game time that people who gave up on eq2 are getting?? And yes before you ask I find it an insult that the loyal customers are being slighted with this.”
Striothia: “As a loyal paying member of EQ2 since its launch (even the months I didn’t play) this is yet again another kick in the pants to loyal customers. Its not that your trying to get back customers, its not even that your using in game items to do so. Its that these items will now be completely exclusive to returnees that your customers that have stuck with you all the way will never have obtainable.”
I could certainly continue with dozens more similar posts, but I think we all get the point here: a not-insignificant number of some of SOE’s most loyal customers are feeling left out in the cold.
For those of you unaware, SOE’s Living Legacy promotion is the largest marketing push in years, targeted at former or new players for both Everquest and Everquest II. If you’ve ever logged in to create an account for either game at any point in the past nine years and that account was not active as of April 30 of this year, you should probably try to see if you’re able to log in.
If so, you’ve got access to 2 months of free game time, the ability to start up the subscription again and gain access to every expansion for free, an exclusive (read: not available to current customers) discount on the next expansion, and a ton of in-game items – some of which are exclusive to this promotion, which is the biggest point of contention for many of those players who are piping up.
You see, there isn’t any part of this promotion targeted to existing, long time customers that isn’t also available to the newcomers or returnees. Oh sure, there’s a hefty calender of events planned out in both games, but every one of those events is available to every player – even the ones playing through their Living Legacy free time.
So, what’s all the hubbub about then? Is it because players want fluff pets and items? Well, yes and no. On the surface, that might be the case, but realistically, the real reason is one of recognition and customer appreciation.
You see, Everquest II’s come a long way since it’s less than stellar early days. It’s weathered the storm and put out some pretty solid expansions throughout the years, but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Debacle upon debacle seem destined to plague the studio (more so than most studios, it would seem) and most of the blame gets heaped high upon the shoulders of president John Smedley, who’s even admitted in the past to mistakes regarding a failure to listen to his own players.
So I can’t help but wonder if such public revelations are truly indicative of a company who has learned from the past, or if it’s simply another case of history doomed to repeat. I can’t imagine a company willfully or intentionally alienating some of their most loyal customers, especially a company built firmly upon the back of subscription business models.
Certainly, I don’t expect to see a huge influx of cancellations over this promotion, but is that really the point?
I’m truly glad to see SOE moving on marketing. If there’s anything SOE seems to do horribly, it’s marketing their existing games. In a world where you can’t swing a dead cat without smacking over a World of Warcraft display, I can’t tell you the last time I saw more than one or two retail boxes for Rise of Kunark (or even Echoes of Faydwer) on any store shelves (and I practically live in gaming stores, mind you).
So yes, absolutely I love the idea of marketing to old players. I love the idea of plying them high with goodies. I think it’s about the best damned idea ever to throw free game time and expansions at them.
I just don’t think you need to ignore the players that have been there with you through thick and thin to do so. These are your evangelists. These are your true core players. These are the people who shouldn’t be taken for granted. These are the players that studio execs should go to bed thanking in their nighttime prayers. These are the players who skew the churn numbers. These are the bread and butter players of a studio’s playerbase.
Telling them that they can’t access, in any way, a selection of rewards strictly because they’ve been such good customers is like finding out you won’t be getting a promotion and raise at work just because you’re too valuable where you are now. It stinks when it happens at the office and it stinks when it happens in your games.
It’s not how you show those players you appreciate them, at the very least. That is to say, it shouldn’t be.