"Social media has obviously become a game changer in the past few years, but in many respects it has been even more to the benefit of players than developers," said Pyle. "It was always fairly easy for developers to have a one way conversation with their players, and in that manner social media today replaces the .plan updates, forums, and IRC channels of the old days. But where it has played a major role is allowing us to hear from our players in new ways. Twitter and Twitch streams have really created a new avenue for players to become and stay connected to the games they love and the developers behind them."
While Sony Online Entertainment (SOE has opened up its development process for new titles like EverQuest Next and H1Z1, the company's original MMO game remains alive and kicking despite having a full-fledged sequel and a lot of big budget competition in the fantasy MMORPG genre.
Dave Georgeson, director of development on the EverQuest franchise at SOE, believes there are two major things that keep a warm spot in players' hearts for the original EverQuest after all of these years.
"The first is that for many players, this was their first MMO," said Georgeson. EverQuest launched in 1999. "Your first virtual world is special. It's the first time you've been fully-immersed in a 3D world for long periods of time and it's a singularly involving experience. But for many players, the second reason is that the world is just enormous. We've had over 15 years of constant expansion and dev team work on this game. There are thousands of playable zones in this world and you will NEVER run out of new things to do."
Georgeson also said the fact that SOE owns the IP has helped with its longevity, while licensed MMO products it published like Star Wars Galaxies and Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures were ultimately shut down. But even internally owned IPs like Free Realms, Wizardry Online and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes have recently been shuttered, while EverQuest lives on.
"EverQuest has stood up to time because there is no other flavor out there in gaming that's like EQ," said Georgeson. "Other games mostly tried to emulate World of Warcraft's style and mechanisms. EQ was first and so it was not influenced by that game. Therefore, it feels completely different. Not being able to get the same taste elsewhere means that players keep coming back to EverQuest, and that helps its longevity."
That doesn't mean EverQuest hasn't evolved with the times. In 2012, after 13 years of catering to paid subscribers alone, the game switched over to a free-to-play model — though plunking down cash will still get you extra goodies and content.
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