Game On #62 | The State of MMOs in 2015
MMO Live Streams
It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!
Sign In with MMORPG
We recently moved over to open source Vanilla forums. If you are experiencing any issues, please post them here.
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?
It seems odd to me that people forget what really happened when these 2 games came out and the mistakes that Sony made which allowed WoW to capture the market. Let's break this down:
1. EQ2 graphics and environments were far better than WoW, miles ahead. They were doing things graphically that nobody had ever seen before in a MMORPG, truly ground breaking. Remember that when WoW came out it didn't look like it does today, it basically looked like a cartoon. But as mentioned before Sony had made a huge mistake:
a. Sony made an engineering decision not to fully utilize the graphics card, instead of offloading rendering to the graphics card they made a bet that in the future the main CPU would handle these calculations (remember that back then cards weren't near as advanced as they are today). That decision would haunt EQ2 for the next 15 years and was probably one of the worst decisions Sony has ever made.. kind of like 'New Coke'. lol
b. Because of Sony's decision to rely on the main CPU for their graphics it confused gamers. You could spend 800 dollars on the most advanced graphics card for EQ2 and it wouldn't make a difference at all. If you wanted to really experience EQ2 at it's best you need to focus on the core computer.. super fast harddrive, 8 gig's of ram (which was a lot back then) and the fastest CPU you could buy. If you built your machine with this in mind you got to experience what EQ2 could really do graphically, everybody else got to experience the 'plastic models'. To this day, for EQ2 this is true, if you want to play it with high graphics, focus on CPU first.
c. EQ2 came out first, with WoW getting released a month later. After a month of gamers struggling with EQ2 CPU based graphics WoW was a breath of fresh air. To Blizzards credit they built a game that did not require a new computer to run, in fact many older computers ran the game just fine which was a huge advantage for them. They got a lot of market share from EQ2 because of this, plus it also allowed them to reach gamers that they other games couldn't.
2. The second thing that people seem to forget is that Sony made the mistake of listening to it's old EQ1 hardcore playerbase for a number of critical design decisions. What they failed to understand is that both EQ2 and WoW represented the next generation of MMORPGs and those hardcore players did not represent their new target customer. An example:
a. When EQ2 was released they made the decision to continue punishing players for death. In the old UO, EQ1, DAOC when you died it was very painful. You would lose XP, items, levels etc, it was brutal for anybody who has not experienced that before. In DAOC when you died you could lose a weeks work of leveling, it would make you want to throw your PC out the window. EQ2 decided to continue this tradition, when you died you would go into xp debt which was their fancy way of taking xp away. If I remember correctly you still had to do corpse runs to. This was yet another tragic mistake as players hated this, I remember this being one of the core reasons why I quit. When WoW came out, there was no punishment. They made the correct decision in that players naturally don't want to die, you don't need to punish them for it. Just having to run back to where you were was punishment enough.
Simply put, EQ2 did not identify their new target customer and they built a game that was partly a new generation MMORPG but yet they made the mistake of bringing old stuff in to the game that people did not want. By the time they realized this mistake and corrected it ( a few months after released) it was too late. WoW was experiencing massive growth and EQ2 had lost their moment.
The tragic thing is after EQ2 made the changes to remove xp death penalties and some of the 'features' that people didn't want, the game it's self was far better than WoW.. and for many years EQ2 outclassed WoW in many ways but WoW had the subscriber base and EQ2 was never able to win those customers over.. they were already set in WoW.
Even more tragic.. or ironic was that all the new MMORPGs players who WoW was their first MMORPG will claim it's the greatest thing ever.. in reality WoW didn't really innovate anything new. They basically took the core features of previous MMORPGs, took out all the crap that players hated, and released a relatively bug free game (which was a big deal back then). Those players have no idea about the incredible game play that DAOC provided, or the massive amount of content and quests that EQ2 had, customization, owning a house etc. It's kind of sad really.