SOE and the future.

Posted by Jason Triplett Friday, July 07, 2006

Sony Online Entertainment has been under fire from subscribers and the press far too often. Today we take a look at why, and outline their future endeavors.

There is no doubt that SOE is a great company. They have had a rich history in the world of MMO's, with EverQuest being the cookie-cutter template for what an MMO should be like. However, in today's world, things aren't looking so bright for the company. What happened to the company? Where did they go wrong?

First and foremost the largest hit SOE has taken recently is due to the butchering of Star Wars Galaxies. The company saw fit to change the entire game not once, but twice...the second time being the worst. The "NGE" is now a lesson for other MMO developers on what NOT to do to an MMO. To drastically change the game so far into it's lifespan isn't the worst thing. What really hurt was they alienated their userbase by removing almost every class in the game, including my favorite, the Creature Handler. I played personally as a Master CH/Master TK from launch until the NGE, when both of the classes I played dissapeared. SOE says this change is sticking, despite execs admitting they lost a HUGE number of their subscribers.

Another dissapointment from SOE was the launch of EverQuest 2. SOE had hoped the old school EQ players would be wowed with the new game, but it didn't quite work out that way. Gamers tha twere used to a rich, involved, and sometimes complicated MMO were offered a watered down WOW clone as their favorite games' predecessor. Most EQ players said "no thanks" and stayed with EQ. Don't get me wrong here, I love EQ2. I love the game for what it is. It has some great content, but when you really get into the game, you find out that it's now become a pissing contest between EQ2 and WOW. The two games are so often copying eachother that it makes you wonder who had which idea first. To help aleviate this problem, SOE is now offering "progression servers" for EQ1 that allow you to breeze through the original game at an accelerated pace. This is to prepare gamers for the long promised cross-over quests that SOE announced so long ago. Can SOE win over some of the old timers? It remains to be seen.

Another problem that plagues EQ2 is the now infamous "DX9 out of memory error". I am a victim of this, as are many of the players of the game. SOE would have you believe that it is all of our individual PC's causing the crash, but the gamers (including some very tech savy ones) feeel that this is a software issue. SOE refuses to admit that this is their problem. Instead they say that everyone just has "bad RAM". You can see a long running thread about this very issue by clicking the link below.

Then there is Matrix Online. SOE thought they could save this dying MMO by buying it from Warner Bros. Unfortunately they couldn't do that. The game is in the same piss-poor state it was in before SOE took it over. Why they decided to buy a failing game when they were already having problems is beyond me. At any rate, MXO is just one more failure that SOE can put on their list.

On the same front, SOE also bought the rights to a DC Comics MMO that Warner had in development, and most recently bought publishing rights to Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, an MMO that can't seem to find it's way onto shelves. Will either of these games be able to help SOE recoup some of their losses? We will have to see.

PlanetSide. Well, it is what it is. I call it another failure from SOE, others call it an awesome game. Despite people's views on this game, it still feels like an empty game most times when playing it, and obviously is another piece of fat SOE needs to trim. Match with that the dastardly hacking of the game that we reported on a few weeks ago, and you have yet another negative for SOE.

What about SOE's console outings? Well EQOA for the PS2 was an awesome game, albeit toned down from the original EQ. It still has somewhat of a user base left, and still gets some cool updates like new areas and such. but perhaps the greatest thing in my mind that SOE has done in recent times was the development of Champions of Norrath 1&2 and the Untold Legends games for PSP. I love the top-down hack and slash RPG, and using the awesome Snowblind engine further accentuates the awesomeness of these games. Can they keep the same feel with the PS3 version? We hope so. It seems SOE is ready to listen to gamers, at least regarding certain products. Complaints about the player model from Untold Legends PS3 prompted SOE to quickly change the model to a more serious, less cartoony looking figure.

With new MMO's on the horizon like Age of Conan, Tabula Rasa, Warhammer Online and LOTR Online, SOE has a lot of work to do if they want to stay competitive in this booming business. Our view is that SOE needs to be more concerned about their player base and our opinions and less concerned about making a quick buck. SOE needs to realize that veteran players are what keeps an MMO alive. Alienating the veterans in hopes of gaining all new subscribers is bad business.

Let us know what you think! Feel free to post a comment in the section provided below this post!


Blog Archive

Spider-Man reboot gets a date...and 3-D!

Posted by Jason Triplett

Toy Story 3 gets a full trailer!

Posted by Jason Triplett

New shots from the set of Predators!

Posted by Jason Triplett

Tyrese to Transform once more!

Posted by Jason Triplett

Star Trek Online gets HUGE endgame update!

Posted by Jason Triplett