About the same time I was writing my piece yesterday about the confusing mess of options facing new subscribers or re-subscribers, OpenEdge was writing about another bizarre aspect of EQ2 marketing.
That's right, they are giving former players a chance to play again for free - but they're not telling them! OpenEdge's wife only heard about it through her husband's Twitter.
This whole system needs an overhaul. EQ2 is actually cheaper than people would guess. I'm still in the mindset of £35 ($50) for the box plus £10 ($15) per month sub plus a hefty fee for the numerous expansions and adventure packs. In fact UK former players can have the whole thing over the Christmas holidays for under a tenner.
However it's no good being cheap if people don't know about it. All you do is reduce income from the people who were going to play your game anyway.
Here's some areas I feel they need to address:
It is utter madness to have your schemes trying to beat each other. This is actually how the banks worked and it caused the collapse of the financial markets.
With the banks staff were paid incentives if they made a certain number of loans. They would be paid if they gave a mortgage to Mister M. Mouse. In fact, would he like two? And some insurance with that?
I have no idea how the SOE marketing staff are incentivised but if I were trying to sort out this mess the first thing I would look at is pay - are people getting bonuses if their scheme beats the other guy's scheme? For there's no reason the complete collection should be deliberately engineered to undermine the recruit-a-friend scheme in the way I described yesterday.
It should be really easy to see how much each scheme will cost so customers can find out in 2 minutes what is best for them, not 2 hours.
Have all the schemes more or less in line with each other. You don't need very different schemes in Europe to what you offer in North America. This is the route down which DDO has been forced and if one deal is significantly better then people will sign up with the wrong deal deliberately. Why is the complete collection not available in Europe?
With the internet I can buy the complete collection in dollars from the US store anyway. So it's not as if you're really stopping people from getting it, it's just a confusing mess of several different places to look for several different deals for varying amounts of time and with varying freebies so that it's a headache to know which one is best.
Tell people how good your product is. Tell them in multiple ways. To be fair maybe they e-mailed me telling me I could have 117 free days if I upgraded, I had let my e-mail details go out of date. But no one reads most of the unsolicited e-mail they get anyway.
Put it on the Station Launcher, front page in a little window You get 117 free days if you upgrade now next to the Station Access link.
Virtual horses are worth their weight in gold
However they weigh nothing. So stop screwing raf players out of them - it doesn't cost you a thing to let people get the mounts.
EQ2 in Europe can be had for £7.99 without Shadow Odyssey or £8.99 with it. Make up your minds, either Shadow Odyssey is worth something in which case it should be sold separately and for more than £1 or it's not separately worth money by now in which case just make it standard.
I think (I'm not sure and I can't check just now) that my Station Access does not include Shadow Odyssey. It says 7/9 for EQ2 on the Station Launcher when I log in. Assuming that's not a Star Trek in joke I think it refers to my not owning all the packs. So my all singing all dancing premium most expensive sub option does not include an expansion worth £1 for the main game I want to play on it.
I have no idea now where I'd go to get hold of this for any reasonable amount so I'll just play without it for 5 months then get the new pack when my sub expires.
Now don't get me wrong - EQ2 is an awesome game that I really really like. It is just very sad to see a great product so badly marketed. Not just because games need to make money, but also because MMO games need people. I think SOE would see a lot more people in EQ2 if they improved the way they market this product.
Having said all that Splitpaw EU server seems pretty lively with lots of people looking for low level groups (as well as pug raids and higher level groups) and a number of new guilds recruiting. A number of bloggers have gone back to EQ2. Check out the comments here and here.
So don't let the business side of things let down a great game.
Afterword: I posted this and yesterday's post to the official boards but they deleted it. Hopefully it may have got sent to the right person anyway. For what it's worth it was honestly meant as constructive criticism.