Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Streaming EQ2 Client

Autenil reports that he is working on reducing the size of the EQ2 client to 60MB and getting it to stream the rest of the content, like Guild Wars does. They are apparently leveraging some of the great work done by the Free Realms team.

I think this is a brilliant move to increase exposure. I had tried the refer-a-friend feature on a few people (none of them decided to subscribe unfortunately) and without exception the first thing out of their mouth was "how long is this going to take?!" referring to the extremely long download time. It's kind of hard to convince people to try a ten day trial for a game when the first two days are used up just downloading the game.

Also, you have to consider that people's attention is fleeting these days. There are dozens of MMOs on the market. There are thousands of other forms of entertainment. If you manage to capture someone's attention at the computer, getting them to download EQ2, the clock starts ticking. You do NOT have much time left. You have to grab them right away.

Although I have a much higher tolerance for the time it takes to download an MMO (and a willingness to try every MMO that has come on the market since I first got hooked on the genre with Final Fantasy XI), anecdotally, I know there are a few games that probably lost possible income from me simply because of download times.

Runes of Magic had previously announced that they were going to develop a streaming client. It's too bad they haven't, because I tried that game out, and liked it, but I stopped bothering to try to play. EverQuest II is my primary game, but it doesn't run on my old, cheap, crappy laptop. One of the reasons I was attracted to Runes of Magic was that it was a fun game and free with optional RMT -- which meant I could control how much money I invested in the game and didn't have to worry that I might end up too busy to justify a subscription fee. But everytime I played it it would take an hour to download the latest content. Which was usually about how long I had to play!

Another game I couldn't play due to download times was Warhammer Online. They came out with a Mac version, so I tried to get my brother to try it out, since he is a Mac (and I am a PC). So it took forever for him to download the first night which meant the two hours we had became thirty minutes. A couple nights later we find time to play together - but they released the new Lands of the Dead patch or whatever. I say "whatever" because it doesn't affect me, since I'm playing in the very first Chapter. But I was forced to download it and that was another play session lost. Then we didn't have that much time the rest of the week to play together and the free trial expired. A lot of the attraction for an MMO is to play with other people - especially ones you know - but it's hard to coordinate all that when massive downloads and patch times eat up what little time you have to play.

So I'm excited to see that the SOE team is on the ball here. MMO games are not getting any smaller, so streaming the content is necessary to attract and retain players.