Game On #62 | The State of MMOs in 2015
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What was wrong with EQ2.
The biggest issue with EQ2 was the performance. Not only did they spec a lot of people out of the game, but they made it impossible to recruit people to the game efficiently. This is something WOW didn't face, and is why that game grew so astronomically for years after release.
With EQ2, people would install the game and within 20 minutes uninstall it because it was unplayable on their systems.
Classes and other philosophical arguments about content and gameplay don't matter if the game is unplayable and/or looks like a train wreck due to so many users having to run it at "Extreme Performance" settings. The graphics were supposed to be a selling point of EQ2 over EQ and [to a lesser extent] WoW, but the way it was implemented was such that the game actually looked worse than WoW - and not much better than EQ - in practice for many people.
The game was also hurt a lot by top clans and guild leaders moving over to WoW over EQ2
EQ. Very few of the top guilds that left EQ (usually en mass - together) for one of the new MMORPGs went to EQ2 back then. Some of these guilds were fairly legendary (for lack of a better word) in EQ, and had a lot of influence in that community. Some of their guild leaders actually ended up working for Blizzard (Jeff Kaplan, Alex Afrasiabi, etc.).
I think SoE made a huge mistake when they did EQ2 and didn't simply do a massive revamp to the engine and UI/UX in EQ. It didn't nothing but fracture their player base and dilute their IP.
Players who tried EQ saw it as dated. Players who tried EQ2 were [often] disgusted by its performance, and at "playable" performance settings it actually looks worse than WoW on the same machine.
I think with the proper updates, SoE could have grown EQ's playerbase, without the massive investment and drain on the company developing/running EQ2 had to have incurred.
Can you imagine what it would have been like if EQ had been updated with graphics comparable to WoW's, and an engine as efficient?