Monday, 22 November 2010

EQ2E: $5 off Gold subs

SOE are following up their weekend of free Gold level subscription with a discount on Gold subscriptions, detailed here. It's $5 off the price but only if you upgrade by 30/11/10.

The free to play model of this game is emerging as considerably more subtle and sophisticated than first appeared. When Extended launched the blogosphere looked at Lotro's matrix and EQ2E's matrix and overwhelmingly came down in favour of Lotro. I agreed, in fact the only reason I picked EQ2 was because I much prefer it as a game and quite simply I want to play it more. If I'd felt more drawn to playing Lotro I would have been swayed by a more attractive matrix.

However, it's not just about the matrices. It's about the deals.

There's a lot of very clever marketing psychology going into the EQ2E business model. In fact it's directly drawn from Cialdini's very influential book Influence, where the world got one of its first glimpses into the underbelly of compliance psychology. This weekend has seen many of Cialdini's principles evoked:

- the free sample evokes Reciprocity. Hey these guys are being nice to you, why not give a little back?

- a spike in concurrency as people race to try the freebie evokes Social Proof. 50 million Elvis fans can't be wrong!

- the limited time for the $5 off offer evokes Scarcity as does the weekend length of the freebie. Gotta grab it now before you miss out, guys!

- free to play in general evokes the Consistency principle. Of course it's a great game - my time's too valuable to waste on second rate games!

- the process of MMOs in general and EQ2 in particular encourage the Liking principle. I'm a bit bored but I have such a great guild I feel I have to log in. (It's notable that unlike current WoW where people are often rather bitter about pugs EQ2E has a very positive and enjoyable pugging culture).

It seems that EQ2E has now slipped under the radar of bloggers and games journalists. No one at F13 is talking about it, the only blogs that mention it are those written by people actively playing, the press seems to have moved on. I think its numbers though, both the number of people playing and the amount of money the game makes are going to be surprisingly high. Their problem (challenge if you prefer) is getting people to try it. But once it's on the hard drive it is going to be very hard for people to lose interest. Even if a new shiny comes along like SWTOR or Rift people are still going to be tempted back for these special offer weekends. It's really innovative and clever marketing.


  1. I agree. Very clever marketing. Since I dislike people who use psycho tricks to steal my money I will therefore not play EQ2e.

  2. Perfectly valid conclusion.

    However Pandora's Box is open. This type of behaviour will become the norm. Remember WoW's sparkle pony? When it launched it was "limited", evoking Cialdini's Scarcity principle. People immediately pointed out that there is no need to limit a virtual item and a couple of days later Blizzard came out with a rather contrived explanation of why they had said it was limited - it didn't matter they'd already sold crate loads of ponies to players many of whom queued for hours to get one.

    It's actually one of the more dishonest uses of Cialdini's principles - at least the limited offers in games like EQ2 and Lotro are genuinely limited, not just lies.

    Vaneras' statement to the WoW community is in this thread: