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EverQuest Next: gamers should want all their MMOs to be free, says Georgeson

Thursday, 3rd April 2014 11:40 GMT By Dave Cook

EverQuest Next development director David Georgeson has stressed that gamers should want all of their MMOs to be free in a new interview. His belief is that free-to-play models force developers to raise the quality of their products.

It follows Georgeson’s statement that he’s “hugely interested” in VR tech. That’s not to say that the MMO will feature some form of VR control, but you never know.

Speaking with IGN, Georgeson said, “There’s nothing wrong with the subscription model. I have personal opinions, which I’ll go ahead and share because I’m just that cocksure of myself. I think that free-to-play is the way that gamers should want their MMOs to be, and the reason I think that is that if we don’t do a really good job and we don’t entertain the player, we don’t make a dime.

“We’re effectively street performers: we go out there and sing and dance and if we do a good job, people throw coins into the hat. And I think that’s the way games should be, because paying $60 up front to take a gamble on whether the game is good or not? You don’t get that money back.

“So if you buy a turkey, you’ve just wasted your money. With free-to-play you get to go in, take a look at it and find out. It’s entirely our responsibility to make sure you’re entertained. That’s the way things should be in my opinion with free-to-play.”

We’ll have more on EverQuest Next as it comes. Stay tuned.

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6 Comments

  1. silkvg247

    Well though it’s not EQN, I’m pretty blown away by landmark so far, already thrown some money at it just out of appreciation. At first I thought.. hmm dig dig dig, chop chop chop.. it’s just minecraft. With pretty voxels.

    Once I got to owning my own plot and building, and researching advanced building techniques.. wow.. this stuff is just crazy fun. I’m currently building some ruins. It really feels like I can build anything I want. And it isn’t just that.. it’s experimental.. like what if I make this big pixellated shape and now use the smoothing tool? What if I smooth it like 20 times.. omg look I ended up with a funky smooth metallic lightbulb shape.. awesome.. I’m so keeping that for a future template.

    It feels like a game, with a product inside it, such is the exhaustiveness of the building. Copy, paste, cut, “colour” pick a texture with an eye drop, select, delete, add, do what you want.

    If anything the gameplay part of it kind of takes second part to the building, for you must mine dirt, stone, gems etc to be able to build.

    Anyway I’m stoked so far with just the building and gathering. When they add gameplay features like combat and danger it’ll be interesting to see where it goes.

    #1 5 months ago
  2. TheWulf

    Honestly, I’d be fine with a time/content limited demo, and once I’m done with that, I have to pay a one-off price for the game. We used to have something called shareware that was great for that. My ethos is based upon ethical economics, as opposed to exploitative. I don’t want providers to feel that they actually have to give me things for free, they don’t. I’m a firm believer in quid pro quo. As an intellectually minded person, equivalent trade appeals to me.

    If you give me something I enjoy, I pay for it, and I get to keep it. Games were like that for decades, and I’m quite unsure of what it needed to change. I remember when we had covertapes for the home computers, which always had such a cornucopia of demos. Those were lovely days.

    So I’ve no trouble paying a one-off price for something if I get to try it first. He’s right about there being a risk, there always is, but on the other hand I don’t want a free meal, either. I’m not expecting that. The thing is is that if I like it, I’m going to ‘pay for hte game’ by buying a bunch of cosmetics anyway, that’s just my way. I did that with The Secret World. TSW was so weird, it even gave me in-game cash shop money for just playing it. I didn’t understand.

    But it felt like a heartfelt sentiment because Funcom really wanted me to play this amazing game they’d made for people like me, so completely sans any form of exploitation. So earnest, so naive even, that they gave me money to keep playing it. And it didn’t force me to grind, it didn’t try any tricks to compel me to play it, it was just fun. It had so many things that were unique to MMOs, including research missions, puzzle missions, stealth missions, and substantially more. It was unique.

    And I felt that I wanted to pay them, anyway. I got some in-shop money and I didn’t even really spend it on anything, I just wanted to give them my money for providing me with such a thoroughly enjoyable experience. This is why TSW overtook Champions Online as my favourite MMO, because they genuinely wore their heart on their sleeve. And you could tell that the subscription it once had was a mistake, and they were guiltfully repentant. I felt for them.

    TSW, right now, is hands down one of the best MMOs you can play. It doesn’t have a box price, nor a subscription, and it’ll give you cash shop money for playing it, which is completely ridiculous. But I didn’t need that, all I needed to do was test it, and I would’ve paid them. The same is true of Everquest Next. There’s this cancerous, toxic idea going around (perpetrated mostly by obnoxious herdies that like to gabble rather than talk) that F2P gamers want MMOs to be that way because they’re cheap.

    What a wholly bizarre idea.

    So, back when I had a PC in the ’90s, I was cheap for downloading a demo of a game first, to see whether I’d like it, before actually buying the game? I wouldn’t call that cheap, I’d call that not stupid. The great thing about the arrangement with that is that I get to be satisfied with my purchase, and I’ll praise the developers for making something I like.

    Another problem is… well… dopamine.

    Being an introvert, my brain exists in a low dopamine state, this is common for introverts and it makes us damn near impossible to condition in any meaningful way. What this means is that we find happiness in soul-searching and identity building rather than habitual lifestyles. An introvert won’t last long in WoW because the reward schedules won’t work for them, they won’t be waiting for that next dopamine hit. Instead, they’ll just be asking why they aren’t doing something more fun ore creative. So they’ll stop playing, and they’ll go do something that’s more fun or creative.

    The introvert market is growing all the time, this is why there’s also a growing discontent with the state of MMOs. See, it works like this. The extrovert has life habits which are reaffirming for them. They never have to seek identity or soul-search for meaning in life because they’re happy on dopamine. Just doing boring tasks provides them with satisfaction and fulfilment. You did the thing, now you’re rewarded. And MMOs feed into that.

    In an MMO, you get loot drops. So you’re doing the thing, and at some point, you’re going to get a reward. That reward, for extroverts, is a dopamine hit. And not just the loot drops, but the level ups. The ‘ding’ is a massive dopamine hit, through this habitual game playing style, they find worth. And they give themselves to the game because they’re addicted to these dopamine hits in the same way that someone who does extreme sports is addicted to adrenaline rushes. Habits are formed through dopamine hits.

    The thing is is that dopamine is training wheels for the brain, it should lessen once the mind enters into maturity, because then they can handle their dopamine rewards manually (caffeine et al), rather than having it continue to be automatically driven. As children, we’re automatically driven because we don’t know better, so we’re basically little automatons. But if the dopamine hits continue into mature life where we can become addicted to it, then we continue to be automatons. This is what creates the distinction of either being a herd-runner, or a creative.

    Creativity isn’t something you’re born with. A lack of dopamine is. And a lack of dopamine gives you the ability to explore yourself for inspiration to actually be truly creative, to make things that have meaning and aren’t at all shallow.

    See, an extrovert will do something they think of as ‘nice’ without having the empathy to think of another person, this isn’t driven by generosity, altruism, or love, but the desire for the reward. They’ll buy a gift without thinking about it, like they’ll buy a shirt without checking the size they need and hand it over to someone as a gift. They’ll expect to be thanked, and they get to feel good because that’s a dopamine hit. Whereas an introvert will try to seek out a gift that will actually have some semblance of personal meaning.

    The more I research into the human mind, the more it all makes sense. So you have habitual extroverts that love games like WoW because they provide so many dopamine hits, if you have a brain that’s that dopamine happy, that brain is easy to brainwash. But then you have people like me who seek out more intellectually or emotionally meaningful and enriching funsies.

    That’s why TSW clicked with me. It challenged my mind, then it rewarded me with good writing and clues for me to speculate over. I find that satisfying. However, an extrovert would have absolutely no desire to play detective in that way. And that’s another thing, I can guarantee you that any half decent detective is an introvert because they’re good at that, they enjoy that. They find people tiring to be around but they’re insightful enough to read them. An extrovert could never truly make a good detective.

    So that’s the difference in how introverts and extroverts operate. Introverts can seem understimulated, but that’s only because certain things don’t stimulate them, their brains don’t force them to be stimulated in the way that an extrovert’s brain forces an extrovert to be stimulated. It doesn’t work like that. This is why an introvert in a public setting will seem overly analytical and dour, just as I do now, because you’ve not met the real me that I like to show to the half-dozen people that really matter to me.

    And I’ve been trying to figure out that mess for years.

    So, yeah. I don’t want a game that’s going to have me subscribe just to attempt to addict me with reward schedules, levels, and other tactics. It won’t work. I’ll just be mad at them for trying. A free to play game I see as immediately less exploitative because at least I can try before I buy. Give me a week and I can decide whether I can tolerate the game mechanics enough to actually get to the bits I enjoy (the story, the lore, and so on). If I can’t, or if what I like isn’t there, I can just drop it like a bad habit.

    I’d love to see gaming go back to shareware, because that way you can always be assured that what you’re buying is right for you. And even if the rest of the game doesn’t turn out quite as good as the free episode, that’s fine, because you’ll probably have enjoyed that so much that you’ll have wanted to pay them anyway. I certainly remember that that was the dealio back in the day.

    So, yeah. I’m not looking for a free meal. I’m more than happy to give them the price of a game based upon my enjoyment.

    Also…

    Funnily enough, talking about this, I now understand why some people believe that time is a worthy metric for value, whilst others (like me) believe that the quality of the experience is a proper metric for value. It’s introverts versus extroverts again. If you fill a game with fetch quests and padding like that, it’s going to mean lots of dopamine hits for the extroverts. But if you make a game engaging, intelligent, well written, and fun, it’s going to draw in the introverts.

    I feel that marketing would work better if it understood this. And there’s an underserved demographic of introverts out there right now who simply aren’t part of the herd, who’re looking for more meaningful entertainment. That used to be supplied by even the big companies, because back in the day the introverts were the ones they courted without even realising it. Mostly because even for those with big publishers, games were passion projects made by introverts, rather than dopamine fests made by marketing.

    Quite a lot of indies are getting that, these days, and they’re appealing to the introverted creatives rather than the extroverts. The extroverts are always going to support the biggest names for the dopamine hits, anyway. They’re addicted to the brands because brands are dopamine hits. Buy the thing, habitualise the thing, ritualise the thing, discuss the thing… DOPAMINE!

    It’s just all coming together for me, really. I spend a lot of time thinking about people, and why some are intellectually/emotionally driven, and why others seem to be little more than automatons, barely intelligent (emotionally or intellectually), let alone capable of abstract thinking (like self awareness). I mean, there are crows that understand water displacement better than most extroverts would.

    So human intelligence across the vastness of humanity is overrated.

    Essentially, it boils down to this: Give us introverts a game which is fun and enriching, and we’ll give you our money. Otherwise, bugger off.

    #2 5 months ago
  3. Hcw87

    He couldn’t be more wrong.

    ”if we don’t do a really good job and we don’t entertain the player, we don’t make a dime.”

    This is what describes a subscription based MMO. If people aren’t entertained, they won’t subscribe for long. An MMO with lots of subscribers can be categorized as a successful MMO.

    F2P MMO’s with cash shops is a blight on the genre, and i very much doubt EQNext will have a long life because of this. People will spend a few weeks leveling up, and be turned off when they discover its got no endgame content (except for the few people who actually enjoy building stuff for example). If this had a subscription model i’d be way more optimistic about it.

    #3 5 months ago
  4. TheWulf

    #1

    Yeah. It’s for creative people, so naturally it’s going to have things that they find enriching. And I agree with your consensus. I love the lightbulb example because that’s such a good one. I’m also fond of how they’re not limiting people to fantasy, in that you can head to space, too.

    I think the only mistake they made with Landmark is not including the other races. Creatively inclined people often find humans to be a bit boring, they don’t need the crutch of familiarity to enjoy their game, so they’re just bored by it. And this was confirmed on the forums where I saw someone begging for even just having non-human skin colours as something to allow them to self-identify.

    So that’s a mistake, and I hope they think about fixing it.

    But other than that, man, Landmark is such a joy. I’ve only been poking it since the beta but it’s absolutely fascinating. What boggles the mind is that it’s so much more complicated (not in a bad way) than the dev blogs actually made it look, which meant that I always wondered just how much you could actually do with it with the tools. And it’s fun to explore, too. I find just sauntering around the creations of others to be enriching, just as I did in Minecraft.

    I’m hoping to get time to poke it more, soon, but from what I’ve seen it’s very, very promising. But more than that, it’s very emergent in even a way that Minecraft never was.

    #4 5 months ago
  5. jmg24bad

    Come on wulf. Don’t type whole articles

    #5 5 months ago
  6. lookingglass

    This guys a knob.

    People should want free MMOs!…

    …with $100-60 alphas, $20 betas and a credit card by their side to swipe for in-game resources.

    /facepalm

    #6 5 months ago

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