What I’m not playing: EQ2

About 16 months ago, I started playing EQ2 on the side, while still raiding with my heavy progression guild in WoW. I think I started around the time we hit a lull, not being able to kill Sinestra despite many attempts, and slowly losing ground from our all-time top position of 800 worldwide, 400 worldwide-25, 400 European, 200 European-25, abouts; something we would never reach again. People who expected us to progress faster and faster and climb the ranking even higher got restless and annoyed, and in the end, I left mid-Firelands (and the guild collapsed in January after disappointing Heroic DS progression). By the time I started playing EQ2, I already felt slightly burned out and non-confident in my tanking abilities, so I rolled a swashbuckler. It was also the class name that appealed to me, and the fact that it was a free class choice in the F2P version of EQ2. I played a lot, only logging into WoW for raids, and when I left WoW completely, I focused on EQ2, and played LotRO on the side.

I had a lot of fun and liked the world. I started in the Greater Faydark, and although many people berate it, I thoroughly enjoyed the scenery. I progressed through lots of the older content, slowly and leisurely: Antonica, Nektulos Forest, Thundering Steppes, Zek. (not Rivervale though – if I never have to go back to that place, it’s still too early. *grumble*) There are lots of nice memories from that time:

I went to the Sinking Sands in my mid-40ies, and hit 50 there.

EQ2: Tabascun hitting level 50

I liked the scenery so much that I stayed for another 10 levels, and then some.

At some point, I reached level 70, though I’m not sure where that screenshot was made.

I worked on my tradeskill and even became a level 90 armorer, the level cap at that time:

But at some point in winter, I stopped playing. I’m not even sure when exactly it happened, but I assume it must have been around the time I went to Japan; I guess I just never picked it up after I came back. For almost half a year now, I’ve had the itch to return, on and off. The reason I haven’t returned is not with the game or its mechanics (though, with EQ2 arguably having way too many similar, but different skills on longish cooldowns, it would probably be hard to get back into the groove). No, the reason solely lies with the company.

How a company can destroy a game

In February, out of the blue, SOE suddenly announced that they would split their use base: Soon(tm), they would hand over their EU customers to a shady German-based company mostly known for cheap browser-based games. There was a severe outcry over this: would complete servers move? Only players? Would they be divided and have to forcibly transfer to other servers? SOE used their typical information policy: they said nothing. Then kept silent a bit longer. At some point, they said they understood their customer’s apprehension (how nice), and they’d “work on a solution”. Supposedly, the forcible split is now off the table, and all that will happen is that European players will have to pay a different company. Pay more than before, in fact. For less service, because ProSiebenSat1 customer service is done by volunteers. Say what?

After half a year, the details are still in the air. Latest rumors are that no more than one account is allowed access per IP at any given time (meaning couples playing together or multiboxers would be out), and that standard procedure with ProSiebenSat1 is that you consent to remote access to your system for customer service. Seriously? I’m baffled. That’s absolutely out of the question. And that from a German company, all the while we here in Germany are still kinda protective of a lot of things privacy, or so I thought.

DCUO is somewhat of a test balloon. They had their transition last week… and it was a disaster of conflicting information, bad customer service, and bugs, as far as I can tell.

Why? Why? This is a game that I enjoyed and that I would actually try again. It is the first time the reason I’m not playing a game is not because I got tired of it, but because the companies behind the game are fucking up so hard that it is sucking all the fun out of the idea of going back. I’m too frightened by them to go back and try their game. It’s frustrating, it’s disheartening, it’s appalling.

4 thoughts on “What I’m not playing: EQ2

  1. Pietro, the Customer Rep at EQ1, has been doing a sterling job of clarifying what’s going on, although it’s clear he doesn’t have all the information and can’t tell us some of what he does have.

    He is absolute on the multiple accounts issue: they *will* be allowed. The details, however, need to be agreed by both sets of lawyers. Whether that means only multiple subscriptions (which any company would want) or will also include multiple free accounts (which no F2P specialist likes or usually allows) remains to be seen.

    He is very strong on the remote control of PCs thing, too, although he doesn’t go as far as he does on the account thing (where he categorically says that it WILL be made to happen). I would say it looks as though the remote access thing will not happen, or not as the sole option. SoE seem very opposed to agreeing it.

    An interesting new element in the mix is PSS1’s apparent lack of PCCDIS authorization. That’s a mandatory requirement for any company taking a customer’s money online in the U.K. Several posters chip in to confirm that PSS1 definitely is not complaint and apparently in the past has declined to become compliant. If that’s true they will not be able to take any online credit card payments from the U.K. so unless they have some other means of taking our money, the U.K. would be out of the picture for anything other than free accounts. I’m keeping my fingers crossed on that one.

    As for why this is happening, I would bet it’s all being decided well above even Smedley’s pay grade. I very much doubt anyone in SoE had any say in it at all. Someone on the EQ Forums suggested it might be preparatory to the whole of SoE being sold to PSS1 and while I doubt that I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see SoE broken up and/or sold off in the next few years.

    Once reporting for SoE moved to the Playstation division from (I think) Sony Pictures, it was only a matter of time before someone higher up in the corporation began to ask awkward questions about why Sony had a division making online games that couldn’t be played on consoles in the first place.

    1. Interesting. It looks like the EQ customer service is at least a bit more organized than the EQ2 one. I’m pretty sure part of the problem is that they are not well-informed by their superiors either.

      I also wouldn’t be surprised if, like you say, SOE is slated for liquidation. I think Sony has seen better days, and a money influx would be appreciated. It’s just amazing how much you can botch such a thing. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they lose users over that. And that won’t increase SOE’s selling price when they go and liquidate the rest of their assets!

      Under normal circumstances, I would say that you might be lucky, because not being able to do online payments in your country because the company messed up might trigger some exclusionary clause. At least in my mind, it would make sense for SOE to say “if you can’t provide the services to users in the UK that you promised, then you won’t be able to get the users in the UK at all, and we’ll keep them”. Then again, I learned that business laws are often neither fair, nor make any sense at all.

      PSS1 refusing to get certified is very strange. I can only think of two reasons: either the daughter company in charge of billing the users is too shady and would fail the certification (I can’t imagine PSS1 itself having problem with that… it’s the second largest, private television conglomerate in Germany, that would be mind-boggling). Or the whole certification thing is more of a scam by credit card companies to make money for what amounts to no more than snake-oil security, and PSS1 refuses to pay up. I glanced over the requirements last night, and it’s hard for me to tell without details. There’s no love lost between me and either of the two types of companies, so no idea who is the bigger crook there in this special case.

      It’s all a very depressing state of affairs. I just wish it was over finally. Because once it is, I’ll probably wait another month or two and try to figure out whether our new overlords might be worth the trouble. I’ve done it before. I abandoned LotRO characters in the last big user transfer. And back then, it was a merger, not a split, so it was arguably the better deal to start with.

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