Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Living Legacy Backlash?

Sony just launched their Living Legacy program for EverQuest and EverQuest II which provides a lot of freebies to people with cancelled or trial accounts if they convert to a paid subscription. Since I was still subscribed to the Station Access all-in-one subscription plan when the program started, I guess I didn't qualify for these rewards. My subscription just lapsed. Now I wish I had cancelled earlier... I probably would have continued my subscription longer if I had access to the EQ expansion packs (just to look around), and recruitment passes (to invite some friends to join me in my former home, EverQuest II, since I quit mostly since everyone I was closest to in game had moved on.)

Anyway, its an interesting program. They try to bring back players who have let their subscriptions lapse (or who never converted to a paid subscription) every year or so, but generally its nothing on this scale. I wonder if Age of Conan has something to do with the sudden desire to bring back old players? Like many, I have moved on to the "latest shiny" (Age of Conan -- for how long, I don't know), and the bribes to come back to the familiar haunts of my former home would have been tempting -- had I quit sooner (my pending account didn't turn fully cancelled until today, just after the program started.)

I wonder if these types of plans can occasionally backfire... it seems to me that some subscribers might resent all these gifts being showered on people who have not shown the same degree of loyalty. While its a natural part of the business cycle for a subscription based business to attempt to reward people for resubscribing (or to prevent them from cancelling in the first place), usually the freebies aren't quite so overt. I know that my cell phone provider is giving away free minutes to people who threaten to quit, and that they attempt to get people to re-commit themselves to a contract. However, they aren't going around advertising what they are willing to give away.

But the Living Legacy program does exactly that -- it puts the rewards out in the open, and some of the gifts are quite attractive (such as in-game items to increase XP, movement speed, upgraded weapons and armor, and more)... the upgrades are much more than the usual: typically, these programs simply issue free play time so people can see what has changed. And so its inevitable that there will be some jealousy from active subscribers...

Of course, the point of this is to boost subscriptions, and active subscribers are getting exactly what they pay for, so they aren't being "ripped off" (as some might claim). And active subscribers do benefit from the program, since it reinvigorates the game, by bringing in fresh blood, as well as returning players. But still, I think there will be many people who will certainly feel ripped off. And I don't blame them...

Some companies do allow people to apply special promotions (even those intended to attract new subscribers) to their accounts even if they are already active subscribers. Should Sony do this as well?

Aha -- I found the "paid subscribers get squat while nonsubscribers get all THIS?!" thread on the forums. I wonder if anything will come of this.