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Welcome! I am teaching law at St. Petersburg State University and engaged in legal practice with the international law firm Dentons. Major part of my research is connected to virtual worlds and massive multiplayer online games (a broad field which includes Internet law, video game law, virtual law and game studies). My legal practice is focused on providing support to computer game companies. This interest derives from my passion for computer games which I consider as one of the most important cultural artifacts ever created. Please note that this blog conveys my private opinion which is not necessarily shared by any organisations I am associated with. For more formal and detailed introduction please visit my website arkhipov.info which serves more as a 'business card'.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Why The Population of Everquest 2 Has Increased

The active population of Everquest 2 has increased. Or at least it seems to be so looking through the eyes of a level 45 avatar.

This post is a quick recap of prima facie reasons for this fact (or at least a hypothesis).




This virtual world is about 8 years old and naturally has faced a decline in population. However, right now there are much more characters running through low and mid-level zones than a month ago. 

It may be interesting to fix possible reasons hot on the trail. The reasons may be broken into two general groups - internal and external.

Internal

Obviously, the updates being implemented by SOE in August, 2012:

- One of the two "main" areas revamped. Namely, Queynos, the hub for good-aligned characters. Inspite of the fact that not all of the players appear to like the revamp, most of the players logged in to check it. Then logged in for a bit of nostalgy. Then...

- Addition to "class focus development". Generalizing, it is an improvement to local "talent" system which allowed new class builds. A sweet feature to try.

- "Level-agnostic" battleground gameplay. As far as I understood though the gameplay and information available, this effectively means that starting at level 30 (out of 92) the groups for each battleground match are formed from all of the players within this scope. This appears to be what makes battlegrounds more alive than before.

- Class change for fighter class. There is a new stance which allows to deal more damage, while suffering more. 

So, generally speaking, what was done:

  1. Revamp of at least one of the hubs.
  2. Adding a new dimension to character development system.
  3. Attempt to revive an important part of the game (PvP).
  4. Making one of the specialized classes more versatile.  
If the list given above is true, and the amount of active subscriptions has increased, then it would be a checklist deriving from SOE good experience.

External

- The virtual worlds market. The Secret World, being presumably a great game appealing to those who love conspirology and H.P. Lovecraft, was apparently aimed to an audience different from Everquest 2 players, although the two audiences are intersecting multitudes. No drastic effect on loyal players.

- The giant of virtual worlds industry, World of Warcraft, did not have any major expansion after the Patch 4.3. (Dragon Soul raid and miscellanea). We have to wait about a month and a half before Mists of Pandaria is launched. And the effect of the latter is quite disputable as not everyone is a fan of pandas and pokemons. 

- The most expected August, 2012 launch is Guild Wars 2 which is planned to August 25. The players need to find a place before that, and Everquest 2 which offers technically better gameplay than World of Warcraft (yes, a Blizzard fanboy says that), is a really nice place for this.

- More and more people are getting into social media, which clearly is a form of an (in-)direct marketing for anything. My own example stands close. I read about Everquest 2 six years ago in a paper magazine, but it was social media which reminded me about this virtual world when I was in a virtual worlds vacuum.

The general summary for external reasons is a description of the moment when:

  1. One who might have been a major competitor has different niche.
  2. The clear major competitor of before is taking a pause.
  3. The next clear (or not so clear) major competitor is yet to appear.
  4. People get more and more information about your virtual world.        
So, did I miss anything on my list? Would you suggest any more examples from the past, whether it is Everquest 2 or an other virtual world?