Monday, February 27, 2012

AAA No More?

"I want to be a SOE customer, not a PSS1 customer. They are simply not the kind of company I would ever sign up with..."
No, this post is not about someone leaving the Eve Online alliance Against ALL Authorities, but a lot of players of Sony Online Entertainment games feel that is what they are fighting right now.  The story goes back in December when the ProSiebenSat.1 Group and Sony made a deal providing content to the German media group.
"Munich, December 15, 2011. The ProSiebenSat.1 Group and Sony Pictures Television Sales Deutschland GmbH have entered into a far-reaching output deal for the video-on-demand portal maxdome. The agreement covers recent blockbusters, as well as many top movies and TV series. This deal will expand the offering of Germany's biggest online video shop to a total of 45,000 titles, thereby extending maxdome's market leadership position.

"Recent blockbusters like "Bad Teacher," "Die Schlümpfe" and "Der Zoowärter," as well as a large selection of movies from Sony Pictures such as "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" and "Zombieland," are now available on maxdome. Top TV series like "Hawthorne," "Drop Dead Diva" and "Breaking Bad," as well as classics like the children's series "Die Schlümpfe," are also available on maxdome. Effective immediately, moreover, subscribers can access movies at least two months before they are broadcast on free TV."
Apparently SOE got caught up in the deal.  In an interview with TV Europe, ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Thomas Ebeling talked about the group's diversification plans:
"We have developed a so-called Four Pillar Growth Strategy. In addition to the broadcasting business in Germany, we will expand our international broadcasting operations, we will diversify our business into digital and adjacent businesses, like online ventures, online commerce platforms, online gaming, online dating platforms, music and live entertainment, and we will expand our production business Red Arrow Entertainment internationally." [Emphasis mine]
PSS1's online gaming company is Alaplaya, a company with apparently a shady history that has previously dealt exclusively with free-to-play games.  I took a brief look at the site and I can see why Herr Ebeling would like to see the stable of SOE games, including the upcoming Planetside 2, added to Alaplaya's offerings.


When the FAQ about the changes finally came out, players responded with a 172-page (as of Sunday night) thread.  Besides a lack of trust in the new company, what really got players up in arms was the idea that Alaplaya would use IP blocking to keep people outside of Europe from playing on European shards.  This caused some concerns.  Since the Nagafen PvP server is in North America, does that mean no PvP for Europeans?  What about French Canadians who liked to play on the Storms because that is the dedicated French language server?  What happens to the Australians?  Will they be confined to the UK servers and not allowed onto the U.S. ones?  These are just a few of the questions I had.  Feldon, the operator of EQ2 Wire, has a lot more.

Speaking of Feldon, he is in his own little war with the community team right now.  He managed to get himself a forum ban for a post he made on the forums.  His ban actually made the pages of  Why?  For Eve Online players, think of Feldon as a cross between Chribba and Wollari (of Dotlan Maps fame).  He operates the EQ2U website which utilizes the EQ2 data apis a lot better than the official SOE EQ2 site.  He also runs the highly touted EQ2 Wire which is a must read for EQ2 players.  In fact, for the past two years his coverage of the SOE Fan Faire has far surpassed that of any other news site.

Then on top of the PSS1 controversy came the news that EQ2 Associate Producer Emily "Domino" Taylor was leaving SOE.  Taylor's position was up in the air following the announcement of Holly "Windstalker" Longdale's promotion to EQ2 Producer.  She left a farewell message that shows she is sticking around the game for enjoyment, if not for work.
"They don’t warn you when you get hired to work on an awesome MMO like EQ2 that leaving the job isn’t like quitting McDonald’s; it’s like ripping out your heart and stomping on it! But today is my last day on the EQ2 team and it’s been nothing but the best times, the best of co-workers, and the best of players, all of whom I’ll miss ridiculously much. ♥ On the lighter side, a certain guild on Antonia Bayle is about to be very surprised to discover I’ve been in their guild for the last 4 years. Maybe now they’ll understand why my play schedule has been so sporadic and irregular, especially around expansions. :)"
From a personal note Taylor is one of my favorite MMORPG devs due to her work on the tradeskill system in EQ2.  She took something that was a mess and turned it into a true second path for leveling a character.  She was a beloved dev and will be missed.

I spent 3 1/2 years playing EverQuest 2 and seeing the game descend into this state is really sad despite 2 years of separation.  I have to ask when does a game stop being a AAA title.  In fact, when does a studio like SOE stop being considered a major game studio?  I know that it still has DC Universe Online and Planetside 2 coming up, but I just have problems considering SOE the home of top games.

1 comment:

  1. Ever since SOE's destruction of the Star Wars Galaxies property, I haven't even been able to bring myself to play SWTOR, even though it's an entirely different gaming company, and despite my love for Star Wars.

    That is the effect SOE has on players. I truly wish they would remove themselves from the MMO business.