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Monday, May 09, 2005

Quest for Respectability

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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:



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.


Anonymous Gerrie said...

glad you re back, nice imaginary talk with smed =)

12:55 AM  
Anonymous flashman said...

"I just wish SOE didn't always seem so desperate"

You nailed it right there. Smedley is becoming the new George Lucas as he tries to wring every penny out of SoE's brands and doesn't give a damn about the damage done to the game's reputations.

WoW is silly but doesn't take itself seriously (the one dungeon is straight from the Goonies for example). EQII is supposed to be the serious game but then we have /pizza. *sigh* I want to play EQII again, I liked it, but I feel like I just can't give money to these clowns anymore.

4:58 PM  
Blogger Aggro Me said...

Thanks, Gerrie, I had fun but it's good to be back. I hope to have more imaginary talks with the great Smed in the future.

Flashman, I really like the George Lucas analogy you make. I loved the first Star Wars movie so much it hurt but now I'm so dulled by seeing Jar-Jar happy meals and the like that I just want it all to be over. SOE has similary played out their great Everquest franchise with all the auxillary nonsense.

Does WOW really have a Goonies dungeon? That's awesome. I like the idea that they don't take themselves seriously.

I have been very tempted of late to play WOW for the first time but between work, this blog, and spending time with my EQII guild it's hard to find the time.

8:19 PM  

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