Friday, August 17, 2012

Breaking The Deal: PSS1 and SOE

Feldon at the invaluable EQ2Wire has three news updates on the ever-rolling train wreck that is the PSS1/SOE deal. If you play any Sony MMOs, I suggest you read them all, starting here.

Here are some highlights:
  • To no-one's surprise, PSS1 have now acquired the regional rights to the SOE games they didn't take in the first raid. That means Vanguard (which we knew), Everquest (which we were told they didn't want), Bullet Run (about which no-one cares) and Wizardry (which isn't finished yet). If you thought at least a few of your options were still open, well you can forget that.
  • PSS1 has partnered with a French Television station, TF1. At least I've heard of it, unlike PSS1. No-one outside France cares.
  • The cost of an EQ2 subscription in the U.K. will rise under PSS1's stewardship by 20%. That's actually only £2.00 a month so it's no deal-breaker, but what the justification for it might be, other than profiteering, I can't imagine.
  • The DCUO conversion hasn't gone smoothly, particularly in respect of customer service. Is anyone surprised?
  •  There are some potential security issues with how PSS1 store account information. Where have I heard that before?
Still not quite at the deal-breaker stage from where I'm standing although now we're getting very close.

And then we come to:

"Each User may only create one Account."

Now that's a deal-breaker. SOE MMOs have always not just allowed but encouraged the creation of multiple accounts. Multi-boxing is a tradition that goes back almost as far as the creation of Everquest itself.

Could it get any worse? Oh, yes. It seems that "User" in this context could be defined as IP Address. If so, that doesn't just mean no multi-boxing, it means only one person per household. No families. No siblings. No couples. No flatmates. Not if they share the same internet connection, anyway.

In our house we have half a dozen SOE accounts between us and sometimes all of them are logged in at once. No more of that. Instead, back we go to late 1999, when we took turns, one of us playing EQ while the other watched. At least we won't be on dial-up.

Oh, I don't suppose it will come to that. There are noises being made about how SOE and PSS1 " understand your concerns and are working hard to address them". Yes, you keep saying that, but then every time you reach some half-hearted compromise on one issue, up pops something else that was entirely predictable only you apparently weren't able to predict it and everyone waves their hands in the air and wails " it wasn’t as simple as we initially thought".

Just over a week from now I will be playing Guild Wars 2. After that, all things being equal, I might be playing The Secret World, City of Steam, WildStar, Otherland, Rift's Storm Legion expansion and who knows what else. It's not as though all my dragon eggs are in the same Kerran basket. But there aren't any MMOs quite like EQ, EQ2 and Vanguard and there aren't any characters like the ones I have there. Even if I'm off enjoying myself somewhere else I want to know my characters are in safe hands.

And they're not, now, are they?


  1. "That's actually only £2.00 a month so it's no deal-breaker, but what the justification for it might be, other than profiteering, I can't imagine."

    Haha, if they claim it's to cover server cost I will bust a gut.

    And that IP restriction is frankly insane.

  2. Wow, SOE just cannot shoot straight on this one. I do not recall, what did SOE trot out to justify this whole deal? Are they ditching Europe because of overhead, regulations, or whatnot?

  3. What the hell? Their policy is "you are not permitted to throw more money at us by running multiple accounts"? Where did these halfwits learn to run a business?

  4. @tagn Well, to quote Smed as reported on Massively today "ProSiebenSat.1 is the ideal partner for us to reach an even broader audience in Europe". Followed by a lot more in the same vein. The real reason is anyone's guess. All they ever trot out is this pr twaddle.

    @Pai and Carson Pretty sure the whole multiple accounts thing is a crossing-the-streams effect of giving games made for an AAA Subscription model to an operator built to supply F2P shovelware. Since F2P is, well, free, most F2P operators are pretty hot on you only having one account. They make nothing if you have more (unless you are likely to spend on all of them in the cash shop, which isn't all that likely).

    I think it unlikely that in the end PSS1 will turn down your money if you want to pay them to have several accounts so I bet that gets smoothed out. Whether they will have to let multiple free accounts slide to get that to happen, we will see.

    I foresee another Codemasters/Ubisoft slow crash, ending with SOE taking the whole lot back within three years. If they are having these extreme difficulties just setting the thing up, imagine what it will be like trying to keep all the plates spinning at the same time.

    Of course, in three years there may not be an SoE to take anything back.

  5. *sigh* This is really, really depressing. How can a company be successful doing their business like this?

    As a player, I'm really disheartened; I've been thinking about returning to EQ2 on and off for the last three months, but the way this goes, I just can't get myself to do the leap of faith. Because what faith in them is there? It's a shame.

    I like the game, but this is the first time that not disinterest in the game, but sheer dismay at the company is keeping me from returning to a game.

  6. I too am so annoyed by this mess. I just would love to have been in the meeting where this was decided, that room was sorely lacking in common sense and any clue about gaming history. These deals just do *not* work.


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