Before I went on vacation, I had some articles prewritten for all you faithful readers, but I was nervous. What if SOE decided to pull another Station Exchange, /pizza or some other ridiculous stunt? I decided to call Smed up on my imaginary-mind-phone (patent pending):
"Hello, there," Imaginary Smed answered. "I'm just bathing in a tub filled with gold pieces - they have my face imprinted on my them!"
"That's nice," I said. "Listen, I need a favor. I'm going to be away for a week so I need you to not do anything that will bring ridicule to SOE and alienate the people who actually like playing EQII."
"Hehe," he giggled. "No promises. Excuse me a second - I said dress up like a high elf not a half elf damn it! Sorry what where you saying?"
"Now come on, Smed," I begged. "You are the 'market leader' (heh) after all - can't you just focus on the game for a week?"
He chortled and hung up. Sigh.
And so, stopping in to check my e-mail at an internet cafe last week, I spotted a bunch of hardcore gamers laughing at a website. I cringed, hearing something about Sony, World of Warcraft and desperation. And what burned across my innocent retinas:
THE QUEST FOR ANTONIA
Now, since I'm really late with this you might want to check out the nice posts already written on Pitfalls or N3rfed which were more timely and quite funny.
Still here? Okay I have a few things to say.
Now, I know SOE is getting pounded by WOW. In fact, when I was there, I noticed WOW selling like absolute hotcakes in Ireland. It was the number one selling PC game in both stores I popped into and EQII was nowhere to be found. I did my part for SOE by moving a few EQII boxes into the WOW section. Anyway, I understand why they are pulling out the PR stunts. But is this really going to attract a lot of long-term players?
The first thing that struck me is that this is obviously a sex sells technique. That's fine but what's weird is that EQII is a somewhat un-sexy game. The women I speak to in-game have long complained to me about the unflattering style of clothing on the women characters. If you've seen the tube pants on the mages you'll know what I mean. This forums post discusses very briefly what I'm talking about.
Heather Graham does the voice for Queen Antonia so it's going to be a tough sell to get me to picture someone else. I alway think of her as Queen Heather actually.
I think if they wanted to really make this a fun contest they should have limited it to people who actually play EQII. As I've said before, there are attractive people who play this game. It also would have been nice if they held the contest at FanFaire or some other EQII event. (Speaking of which - is anyone going to FanFaire? I'm still considering it. E-mail me if you are.)
This contest is in conjunction with Stuff magazine which has always cracked me up. Most of the articles and pictures are all about being a "red-blooded" macho guy. See for example their wordy article entitled "Little Black Book." But then you look at the fashion section and you see clothes no macho guy would ever wear. Take a look for yourself. I've always thought this was a funny dichotomy.
Now, no offence, but the people that usually enter contests like this are amateur strippers who have implants in their implants. Is this the kind of Everquest world we want baby Firiona to grow up in? I mean what's next - SOE co-branding with a porn site to feature hot hot forbidden wood elf on dark elf action? Or maybe Station Exchange X - a system which allows cybering for gold under the watchful eye of SOE for a small commission on each transaction? Paging Ceciliantas.
The prizes are a modeling contract with SOE, a pictorial in Stuff, a subscription to Stuff (woohoo) and an EQII Collector's Edition game. Well, I'm sure the winner will be so excited about getting her hands on that greatest of prizes - a Collector's Edition Everquest II game! "You just won the Quest for Antonia! Are you going to go out and party and go wild in Vegas to celebrate?"
"No way, I need to install this Collector's Edition Game. I get the j-boots and baby dragon pet!"
The rules state that the winner will be decided based on:
"0-55 points: natural likeness to the fictional game character Antonia Bayle from EverQuest II.
0-45 points: "star power" including spokesperson ability and charisma."
Wouldn't it be cool if they threw in 0-25 points based on ability to kite mobs or hold aggro? I wonder if "star power" includes the willingness to give lap dances to SOE employees.
Hmm, when they are deciding the natural likeness portion, can they use the picture of Queen Antonia at the top of my post (taken by official forums member Itazzy during the Plague)? I'm sure most of the contestants have a definite familiarity with that maneuver already.
All that said, it's just a PR gimmick and it should be kind of fun to follow. I just wish SOE didn't always seem so desperate. If I was in charge of their marketing strategy, I would seek to portray EQII as the more complex, mature game you graduate to after playing WOW (even if that's not true). I would focus on appealing to people interested in actual gameplay. I would hope this would draw in the ex-WOW players who wanted a serious game experience.
Then I would hold a huge contest to see who could dress their cat up to look the most like Lucan D'Lere.
Edit: Wondering how the "Quest" is turning out? See here.