As a wise man once said (it might’ve been Einstein, but I don’t believe that; it probably was Melmoth): “Only two things are infinite, WoW’s subscriber numbers and SOE’s stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former”. We’ve seen that the former indeed are not infinite, because a non-infinite number of people left the game, and we could see the result in Blizzard’s quarterly reports. Had it been an infinite number of people leaving, then SW:TOR would have infinite subscribers by now, because it’s a known fact that 23.42% of ex-WoW subscribers subscribe to the flavor-of-the-month game after they leave, and SW:TOR’s numbers are far from infinite. In fact, they have such pitifully low subscriber numbers (some say not even a full million!) that they are barely profitable.
But as always, I digress. SOE has given a remarkable proof of their stupidity yet again. And what a proof that is. Because, you see, doing things wrong does not make you stupid. In fact, doing things wrong the first time and better the next time is sign of intelligence. True to that, SOE did the best thing they could manage: take one of the few things they always did right, and change it for the worse.
Region lockouts are a big thing in MMOs. I’m passionate on that topic because it bit me before. When I started playing WoW, I bought a box in Japan and ended up on the US realms. That meant weird playing times when I got back to Europe, or finding one of the approximately 5 EU guilds on US realms. There was no way to transfer anything over the Atlantic, and I believe there still isn’t. In the end, I bit the bullet and rerolled on EU servers, leaving everything I had behind. It was a scarring experience.
There is absolutely nothing that region lockouts improve. Localization is no excuse. What happens is that game companies pay the cheapest company they can find to hack together a bad translation at breakneck speed and call it a day. There are very few exceptions. And even if localization is important to you, they are no reason for region lockouts. Just release a base game and language packs. That will be enough, because I can’t remember ever seeing a game where the localization went further than a simple translation.
But, true to their stupidity, SOE did something even worse than launching a game with region lockouts. They’re introducing them to EQ2 retroactively. One of the great things about EQ2 and other SOE games was that there were no region lockouts whatsoever. Now they decided that they will hand over the “EU-designated” EQ2 servers to a company with quite shady history. From that moment on, EU players won’t be able to play on the US servers any more. and vice versa. SOE hinted at a half-assed grandfather clause for EU players to stay on the US servers, but there is no solution in sight for US players with characters on to-be-EU servers. And with SOE’s history of implementing anything more complicated that an ice cream scoop, it’s a safe bet that things will go wrong during the transition anyway. Especially since they have no experienced partner to help them.
It’s a shame. I had felt the EQ2 itch recently and was close to playing again. Now I can’t imagine doing that. I also thought about subscribing again for a month to try out Vanguard, but I’m not sure I can reconcile my conscience with that. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Rewarding stupidity makes you look stupid, and I’d rather not be seen with the MMO village idiot right now.