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.

8 comments:

Largo said...

I first read (a few days back) that people with cancelled accounts got 60 free days. I understood this, a lot of companies do this. With AoC out, it makes sense, really.

But this morning I read the whole Living Legacy thread. A whole program dedicated to people who cancelled their accounts? I'm sorry, but this is crossing the line IMO.

It kinda aggrevates me, actually. Where are the rewards and programs for us who have remained faithful through the years?? I like carrots too. I suppose I need to cancel my account to hear from SOE...

Galaji said...

I'd like to chime in here to make a few points about the program.

First and foremost, its an absolutely AMAZING program for FORMER players of EQ/EQ2. This is perhaps the single most beneficial return package I've ever seen an MMO give away. Speaking for EQ2, it has changed DRAMATICALLY since launch and has set an almost unrivaled pace for additional content and improvements. It is well worth another look.
It shows that sony cares about the players and strives to give us what we want.

As a returning player you get:
2 months free play (almost all summer long)
Access to all expansions to date
A bundle of bonus items in game to help you out
A coupon for $5 off the next expansion for EQ2 due out in Sept.


Now with those praises being said, the biggest gripe from the community seems to be not so much jealousy, but a clear imbalance between current/former players.

Current players do NOT get any free game time. This is not to be scoffed at seeing as how 2 months is a $30 value. Personally I considered cancelling my main account and just playing on my older second account since it would be free.

Current players who do not yet own one or all of the expansions will NOT get them for free like former players do. Why would you not provide to the players who can't afford the expansions but have stuck with your game regardless?
This is also a $30 value.

Current players do NOT get the $5 off coupon for the next expansion launching in Sept.


Common counters to these points include the fact that the current players are getting a renewed playerbase.
Honestly, I haven't noticed a lack of players lately that would merit such dramatic need for a revitalization program. Perhaps I just play on lucky servers? *shrug*

There is also the counter that players who are upset are just whining because of others getting a nice deal. This is not the case.
Personally I'm thrilled that returning players get a groundbreaking bargain. I just wish it wasn't to the extent that I feel snubbed as a loyal subscriber.


To wrap it up, since reading the announcement I find myself feeling uneasy when launching the game. I am fighting an internal struggle because I feel what they did is not the proper way to treat a customer. I've decided to stick with it for now solely because I know Sony is better than this. I WANT to believe this was just an oversight or that they forgot to mention some of the benefits for current players.

The next few weeks will be a telling time indeed. Not only as to whether I continue my subscription, but also as to my confidence in SOE's business practices as a whole.

Galaji said...

Quick add-on note to my previous post is that currently, all returning players are being credited for time played according to when their account was created.
Thus, if they created a character on the day the game released, they have access to all of the /claim "veteran" rewards that are intended as loyalty perks.

Largo said...

Your right, it is the imbalance that is the issue here. I really do hope that it draws a lot of players back to the game.

Regarding the vetren rewards... If I created a character on day 1, and then quit the game until today I would still get my full vetren rewards. It doesn't go off how long you account has been active, it takes it from your character creation date. At least this is my understanding of it...

Lars said...

I think its overdue that Sony offered something like this to attract new and returning players to their games. And, naturally they should encourage people to do so with free time and money. This is a great program. It just seems to be a little on the excessive side, so I wondered what others might think of it.

For me, the exclusive in-game items are the only thing that really bug me. Giving free time and coupons is analogous to a cable company offering promotional rates for new subscribers. I'm fine with that; its good business. Giving in-game items you can't get any other way is like that cable company offering a certain channel only to new subscribers that you can't get any other way. That's where things cross the line for me.

I have heard since that at least some of the items do drop in game though, so maybe its not a big deal.

Openedge1 said...

Canceled my account...
Even with the new influx..the servers are still completely empty
And to diss us older players was a little too much.

AoC is at least fun, and a good change of pace...
EQ2 ran like a dog on my brand new hardware and AoC runs like a dream...and combat is fun and exciting...

EQ2 was a new favorite of mine, but this really just did me in..

laptop battery said...

[...]resource[...]

Fille de la Lune said...

My account has been active since Jan 2005, so I did not get all the goodies. Doesn't bother me though, mainly because I don't feel the need to be rewarded for doing something that I already find rewarding :)

I have what I consider two mains, 74 monk Lunara and 71 fury Lunazen, both on BB. However, I am a helpless ALToholic. The Living Legacy reward, for me as a loyal player to eq2, has been the renewed life in all the lowbie zones. The T1-3 zones were always my favorites; am glad there are players enjoying them again.

Great blog :)