EQNext : Do You Hear the Ratonga Squeak?

Ratonga in EQNext

Everquest 2: SOE remove subscriptions from the marketplace.

As of today, we can no longer buy a month’s subscription to Everquest or Everquest 2 for Station Cash in the marketplace.

Piestro has stated on the Everquest forum:

Hey folks,

Just jumping in to let you know this was indeed an intentional change. This decision was partially based on the very limited utilization of this feature.


I had laser eye surgery today, and can barely see straight, so I’m going to make this quick and blunt.

Do not lie to me. Just don’t.

It has been done so that players cannot buy their gametime using Station Cash that they have purchased during sales, allowing them to get their subs at a discount.

I know a great many players who pay for their gold subscriptions that way. I am one of them, as I’ve been working through my pile of Station Cash before I get forcibly transferred to ProSiebenSat against my will. Actually, if not many people use the option (which I doubt), that would be an argument for keeping the feature, not removing it.

Regardless of whether SOE’s own decisions on whether to ever permit it were a good idea or not, we bought our Station Cash on the understanding that it could be used for that purpose. Quietly removing that option, particularly without warning, is a classic bait and switch manoeuvre, leaving us with practically worthless corporate scrip. I didn’t purchase that scrip for buying fluff items.

As players, we cannot allow companies to take our money for their fakey magic currencies, and then completely change the rules. It is utterly disrespectful, and quite likely illegal in certain jurisdictions that actually give a damn about consumer rights. Whether or not you play EQ or EQ2, you should be concerned that this sort of behaviour could become commonplace in the MMO industry if it does not meet with sufficient pushback.

I suspect we’ll be discussing this nonsense on next Tuesday’s Three MMOsketeers.

EQ2: Who are ProSiebenSat.1 anyway?

As you know by now, SOE is selling its European players, to a company called ProSiebenSat.1. OK, technically, they’re selling them the exclusive rights to run the games within Europe (including the UK), but that includes all the characters on the European servers, and the details of anyone with a character there. The value of the playerbase has certainly been accounted for in the deal, and so we have been passed like chattels to a new master.

So who are they, these folks that we suddenly find in control?

ProSiebenSat.1 is a German media conglomerate. Their main business is German language television for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Most important for us though is a little side-business called Alaplaya, which runs online games such as Argo, Skylancer, and a number of other games that you’ve also only ever seen mentioned in cheap google ads. I’m not hearing good things, either about how they modify their games, nor about how they treat their customers. We can expect customer service done on the cheap.

I was having a bit of a dig around for more interesting info when I discovered that ProSiebenSat have deeper links with the Sony corporation than have been reported in the gaming media so far.

Munich, December 15, 2011. The ProSiebenSat.1 Group and Sony Pictures Television Sales Deutschland GmbH have entered into a far-reaching output deal for the video-on-demand portal maxdome. The agreement covers recent blockbusters, as well as many top movies and TV series. This deal will expand the offering of Germany’s biggest online video shop to a total of 45,000 titles, thereby extending maxdome’s market leadership position.

Recent blockbusters like “Bad Teacher,” “Die Schlümpfe” and “Der Zoowärter,” as well as a large selection of movies from Sony Pictures such as “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” and “Zombieland,” are now available on maxdome. Top TV series like “Hawthorne,” “Drop Dead Diva” and “Breaking Bad,” as well as classics like the children’s series “Die Schlümpfe,” are also available on maxdome. Effective immediately, moreover, subscribers can access movies at least two months before they are broadcast on free TV.

About maxdome:

A ProSiebenSat.1 Group company, maxdome is Germany’s largest video download site and offers a wide variety of feature films, series, comedy shows, sports, music and cartoons – a total of more than 45,000 titles of the best entertainment. Videos can be downloaded from maxdome individually, for rental, with a purchase option, or by subscription. As with a DVD, the program can be viewed as often as desired.

The timing of that announcement is interesting, and it starts to look like SOE’s mothercorp has probably signed a distribution deal with ProSiebenSat for their Netflix-clone that includes multiple media, and SOE has gotten caught up in it. Any claim that it’s a great thing for SOE is just a justification after the fact.

If that’s the case, then there may be nothing at all that SOE can do about this at this late stage in the game. This does not absolve guilt at the corporate level in any way, but it does make it seem pretty unlikely that this is going to be a preventable deal.

Which should not stop us from trying.

SOE has unleashed the dogs of war though. Dissent is being quashed. EQ2Wires writer, Feldon, has gotten banned from the forum, largely for his protesting the censorship of Cheese Pirate’s satirical cartoon on the matter. Long-built (and sometimes overly close in some cases, in my opinion) blogger relationships are being burned all over the place.

What is astounding to me is how complete a revolt is occurring amongst the playerbase against Sony’s highhanded tactics. Will this be enough to change minds, not only at the top of SOE, but their bosses over at Sony?

No ETA for SOE MMO servers

Everquest, Everquest 2, Star Wars Galaxies, Planetside, and Pirates of the Burning Sea are still unavailable after their surprise shut-down on Monday morning.

We still don’t know when they’re likely to come back. If I hear anything I’ll let you know. Until then, our characters must wait for us in the loneliness of the void.

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Maltheas awaits the return of the world.

Yes, that was a short post. I’d love it to be longer, but we’re not being told terribly much.

Update: Turns out, if you read San Diego local newsapers, you get to find out that the servers will be down until at least Friday, and perhaps beyond. Why on earth SOE isn’t telling us that directly is a mystery to me.

EQ2: The Chronoportals Cometh

This morning, Maltheas’ mailbox received an important missive. Maltheas’ very favourite sort of letter. An invitation to adventure!!!


We need your help! Portals to a different time have opened up in Antonica, Enchanted Lands, Thundering Steppes, Steamfont, Lavastorm, Sinking Sands, Feerott, and Innothule. We need you to investigate them. Please make your way to the lighthouse by the docks in Antonica. there you will find one of the portals. I will be nearby, and you can speak to me about how your efforts will be rewarded.

Distun Delki

Maltheas: Ooohs. Let’s be goings Cheeves! We have to go BACK TO THE PASTS!!!!
Cheeves: … I’ll fetch your time-travelling trousers, Sir.
Maltheas: Thats being my’s new catchphrase, by the ways!
Cheeves: Great Scott!!!

EQ2 Chronoportal Fippy Darkpaw Attack

Maltheas visits his hero, Fippy Darkpaw!

I have been incredibly impressed at how big this event is, especially given that it appeared from more or less nowhere. There are 8 instances, one for each tier from the second. You are automatically mentored down to the appropriate level when you enter. Each has an 18 hour lockout, so you can effectively do them once per day.

Within each, you will find an iconic foe from Everquest, along with their guards. The boss will drop a chest containing a fabled piece of jewelry, and a fabled augmentation. Those must be split between your party members, but everybody also receives some ancient coinage that can be spent at the Chronomancers near Antonica’s lighthouse, for a variety of nice house items. Nearby, you will find the Chronoportal to the level 20 instance.

For Maltheas, it was also a portal to a dream come true! Fippy Darkpaw is the patron saint of Extreme Questers. He never gives up, no matter how great the challenge, and Maltheas has always wanted to meet him. Alas, in his eagerness he forgot that Ratonga were unknown to the surface world during this time period.

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Maltheas did get the autograph in the end, after a little misunderstanding.

Be warned, these are not intended for soloing, though you may, as Maltheas did, find you can solo the level 20 or 30 ones. Beyond that they get very nasty very quickly. You will want to gather a couple of your most stalwart companions in order to defeat such foes as the Minotaur Lord, or Pyjzn the Necromancer. It’s unusual for events to not be soloable, but it fits well with it being a tribute to EQ, and I have enjoyed grouping with my friends to get things done.

I’ll probably write up a few of Maltheas’ time travel adventures over the coming days, time permitting!

EQ and EQ2 Offer Marketplace Items to Help Japanese Relief Effort

EQ2 added a house item to its marketplace today. It is 500 Station Cash ($5.00), and the proceeds will be going to help with the ongoing humanitarian emergency in Japan.

Called “Memory of Spring”, it is an statue surrounded by falling cherry blossom. It can be found under its own section within the marketplace, marked “Japan Relief Effort”. There is also a similar item available for Everquest.

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Memory of Spring

It seemed appropriate for Maltheas to place it next to his shrine to the god of healing. We wish the Japanese people all the best in the coming days.

EQ2 to do the Timewarp

Everquest is due to celebrate its 12th anniversary in the next couple of days, with the return of all the usual events there. I’ll be covering that in a post once it actually starts, but in the EQ site post foreshadowing it, I also saw this rather interesting bit of news:

Grand events are afoot in EverQuest II starting later this month, where mysterious apparitions have been sighted! Portals through time have been appearing around Norrath, linking this age to an age before the Shattering. Journey through these portals to find the ancient heroes and villains of an age gone by. Reminisce about them. Then kill them and loot them for the really cool items they possess. There may be a connection between them; perhaps you should investigate them all…

Oho! The event is spilling over into EQ2. We’ve not seen any mention of it on the EQ2 site as yet, but it sounds rather intriguing. Perhaps Maltheas will finally get to meet his hero, the original Fippy Darkpaw! Who else might we meet? Suggestions in the comments, please!!!