Thursday, September 9, 2021

The Perks Of The Game - EverQuest Style

I woke up this morning to an email from Wilhelm of The Ancient Gaming Noob advising me of a curious development over at Darkpaw Towers. I like to think of the EverQuest devs there, all safely ensconced in their monk-like cells, draped in hessian robes, cowls pushed back, hammering away at the keys by the flickering light of tallow candles.

What might they have come up with this time, I wondered. I clicked through the link to find a list of "New EverQuest Perks", three new ways for loyal customers to give the company more money. There was even a joking explanation in the language of lore to frame the pitch:

"The Nameless created these Perks during the time of the Dragons and we just found them! (We've been busy . . . really, really busy!)"
Aw, cute!

So, just what are these "perks", anyway?

It seems there are three to be had, one for Adventurers, one for Challengers and one for Merchants. Let's run through them, one by one:

A 5% permanent xp bonus is not a trivial thing in Norrath, even nowadays. When it says it "multiplies with other experience bonuses" I wonder if that's really what they mean? Do they mean it stacks? Anyone who knows math care to explain what would happen if you multiplied cumulative xp bonuses by a fixed percentage?

10% more "coin" is nice but I wouldn't have thought most people make bank on coin drops these days. I make my millions in the Bazaar as I imagine do most people. 

"Alternate currency from modern raids" is a
little outside my realm of experience. Okay, a
lot. I imagine it's important to raiders but how
important is anyone's guess.

I have a vast amount of the "Loyalty" currency, Crowns, which piles up all the time just from having a sub. I have yet to find anything I want to spend it on so a 10% discount is no incentive at all.

Levelling up my mercenaries is something I've never even begun to work on. I probably should. I can wait for a bonus for that, probably forever.

The last perk puzzles me. I was under the impression the possibility of losing a level when you died was removed from the game about a decade and a half ago. Did they put it back?

This is the perk that most appeals to me. Twelve-slot trader's satchels means an additional 20% sales space on your Bazaar trader, although I note it only gives "access" to the bigger bags. How you get the bags themselves is another question.

An additional inventory slot is a huge deal in most games. People buy expensive collector's editions just to get those.

It's a long time since I crafted in EQ but I seem to remember it being very rng-based. Could be useful.


At this point I should mention that none of these perks come free. They don't even come as part of the current All Access Membership. In a very important way, a way that speaks directly to the use of language as we know it, these are not "perks" at all. 

Here's the definition of "perk" from the Collins dictionary website:

"Perks are special benefits that are given to people who have a particular job or belong to a particular group."

Note the word "given". The whole point of a "perk" is that it's incuded, for free, as a side-benefit of something else. If you have to pay for it separately it is not a perk.

These "perks", if that's what we have to call them, you do have to pay for. Here's what they'll cost you:


I don't have a problem with the pricing. It seems reasonable for the services on offer. I certainly don't have any issues over any so-called "pay to win" elements that could, arguably, be involved. Firstly, all mmorpgs are inherently "pay to win" to some degree. People just like to draw their personal lines in different places so they can fight over them and claim some spurious moral high ground. 

Secondly you can't "win" at EverQuest. Good luck trying.

What this seems to me to be is a very clever way of getting around a problem that's been much discussed in this part of the blogosphere, namely how to increase subscription charges to reflect growing costs in a market that's been trained to be extremely resistant to paying for anything much at all.

Had Darkpaw chosen to hike the All Access Membership by $4.99 there would have been outrage. Even if it had been grudgingly accepted by most Members, the PR hit would have been severe and at the end of it Darkpaw would presumably only have received a percentage of the increase, since it would have been split three ways between them, Dimensional Ink and Rogue Planet.

You might think that it wouldn't matter all that much. It would be splitting hairs, since all three are owned by Daybreak Games and Daybreak Games is owned by EG7 (let's go with that for now). I can attest from decades of working for companies who've chosen to set divisions and branches against each other in competition for resources as individual "profit centers", for the people running each of those divisions it most definitely will matter. A lot.

By doing it this way, Darkpaw stand to up the cost of a monthly subscription for a good proportion of their core customers while being able to claim with good reason that the price of the sub hasn't changed at all. It's a conjuring trick and it's a good one.

My All Access subscription, which I pay annually, renews later this month. Even though I'm not currently playing any of Daybreak's games regularly (blame Bless Unleashed for that) I know I will be soon enough so I'll gladly take another year. I won't be adding any of these EverQuest-specific perks but I'll be watching to see whether the other games and studios follow suit. 

I'll be quite interested to see what Darkpaw comes up with for EverQuest II. I would say it's all but certain the perk system will cross to the younger game; virtually every similar innovation added to one EQ title has eventually made it into the other.

Whether I'll want to pay money for anything the EQII team come up with is a lot less certain. I'd guess not but we'll see. It would certainly have to be some quite different "perks" to most of those on offer here, few of which would make much difference to my gameplay in new Norrath. 

Whatever they come up with, I hope it does well for them. These games have to be paid for somehow, by someone, and this seems like a pretty harmless way of bringing in a few more dollars to me.


  1. That's really interesting. I think this kind of thing is going to become more common.

    If I had to guess I would say that FFXIV is the current market leader now, at last here in the west. If you decided to get serious about crafting and gathering, it is very hard to play without buying access to extra bank NPCs and the storage they come with. Before I recently wound down my sub, I was paying I $2 extra a month for two of them, if I remember right. It may have even been $4.
    Regardless, I had two out of the three that they will let you add to your account.

    For most of us, the difference between $15 a month and $20 or even $25 a month is not really that big a deal. But I also think you are correct that there would at the very least be massive wailing and gnashing of teeth, and more likely lost subs on top of it, if EQ or anyone else tries to bring in more by simply raising the sub. I feel like all of the major players are sitting around a table waiting for someone to blink on this.

    1. I'd forgotten the way that works in FFXIV. I remember thinking how odd it was when I played, particularly the sliding payment scale for how many character slots you want, which is very strange in a game where one character can be everything. Square Enix are so famously peculiar, though, I think some of the things they do that would draw attention if tried by other developers get a pass "because Square". Daybreak, conversely, could send every player a free $50 bill and people would be "What's the catch?"

  2. "Perks" also known as "how can we say 'give us more money and we'll give you something that costs us nothing' that'll sound like we're GIVING them something nice?" *sadly shakes head*


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