This past week John Smedley of SOE has been talking about some moves towards an open price model with a flat fee for players. SOE has been a solid part of the MMO world since EverQuest and continues to host loyal fans to this day. With such a huge slate of games under their mantle anyone playing an SOE game on the PC will soon have a chance to open a library of games. Whether it is Planetside 2, EverQuest, DC Universe, EverQuest 2, or even the upcoming EverQuest Next, you will soon get a lot more options for your money. If you subscribe to just one SOE game, you'll get subscriber benefits across all of their titles, plus a monthly stipend of 500 station cash, in the newly re-imagined All Access Pass.
John explained that he has been very inspired by Amazon Prime, the service which offers any user quite a lot of options for just one flat rate. John said that having this one stop shop for SOE fans will work by giving them the freedom to choose what they want to play. He really wants to create a package of value for the players. He said, even if you are a huge PlanetSide 2 player, and you are paying for the game, you will always have the option of trying something else like DC Universe without having to worry about going out and buying something separate. John said he finds himself reading more books with Amazon Prime, so why not offer that option to SOE fans.
“We really want to take away barriers,” said John. By offering all SOE games for the same price they can do this for players. We agreed that most MMO players stick to one game. However with SOE moving to a one fee system players can try something else when they want to with no worries. It is all right there for them. I asked John how this service will impact the cash shops for customization in the games. He explained that they will still be there. Players definitely want choices and SOE wants to keep that customization there for players. Just this way, if you do choose to be a subscriber to any one game, you'll also see benefits across all of their other games.
I could not let John off the hook without asking a few EQNext questions. We laughed how he had locked the team away for a few years to really come up with something awesome for the next chapter in EQ history. He was so happy the first time he saw Landmark and how the team was building such amazing creations. But more importantly, how easy it was to put those tools in the hands of the players. He said that fans can expect a lot of news and announcements this year about the franchise and John cannot wait to see what players come up with when building their own worlds in Landmark.
Back to the topic of price plans, I asked about his thoughts on the Free-to-Play vs. Subscription models with upcoming games have made a lot of news on the subject lately. He said, “Free-To-Play seems more dominant right now, but that does not mean subscriptions won’t work. Subscriptions do work for tent pole franchise games.” This has definitely been a hot topic lately and we both agreed that the news will continue to show how pricing options will grow and shift long into the future for all online games.
Stepping away from talking pricing, I asked John about the MMO genre in general. We both have seen MMOs grow and change so much. John said, “MMOs will continue to get more and more new genres. The innovation era of MMOs is really upon us. Everyone says the golden age of MMOs was in the past, I think it is right now.” I agreed that with so many options for players right now and more hybrid styles of MMOs coming out there really is a bright future.
It really was great talking with John about the new ideas and services that SOE has coming for fans. We talked about the fans at SOE Live this summer and how many families had met playing EverQuest and now have their children playing the same game years later. It really is John’s favorite part about meeting fans. SOE continues its run as a mainstay in the MMO universe. John was excited to say that there are a lot of announcements to come this year. “We have a lot in the pipeline.” Fans of SOE should have a bright 2014 to look forward to.
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