John Smedley Talks About Microtransactions

Readers may recall our interview with John Smedley, where we talked about SOE's controversial decision to implement Station Cash into EQ and EQ2. During that interview, Smedley justified SOE's choice, but he only briefly touched on their goals with microtransaction payments.

Recently, Virtual Goods News had the opportunity to clarify SOE’s aspirations in another interview with John Smedley. Smedley notes that SOE has “been intrigued watching the Asian free-to-play model,” however, he also clearly states that they won’t be making EQ and EQ2 free to play as a result of introducing station cash:

The reason for the Station Cash store is very simple. It’s an additional revenue stream that gives customers something they want. The evidence of that is the sales numbers we’re seeing. We aren’t going away from subscriptions, this just gives us another avenue. I believe virtual goods sales are an ancillary revenue stream.  In fact, I think in World of Warcraft and in our games, there’s a strong sense that people understand that subscription model. I don’t see it going away any time soon.

Following this, Smedley re-mentions that “Station Cash won’t go into Star Wars Galaxies, it won’t go into Vanguard, and it won’t go into future games where it doesn’t make sense. It will be in EverQuest, EverQuest 2, and some future titles like DC Universe Online, though items we sell there in upcoming games may be very different from what we're seeing now.” While Smedley did confirm this with Allakhazam earlier, he did not mention the fact that the items SOE sells in upcoming games “may be very different from what we’re seeing now.”

One game that Smedley re-confirms will revolve around microtransactions, however, is their all-ages MMO, Free Realms. Free Realms, Smedley notes, is designed “with microtransactions from the ground up.” He believes that virtual goods are there to “to capture a market [SOE] couldn’t otherwise capture, like kids who don’t have credit cards. If my son wants a $5 gift card for a game, I might buy it for him or he might use his allowance. To me, that’s a very powerful thing. It gives kids some ability to control their own destiny when they can buy things in a game.”

While microtransactions are certainly not very groundbreaking for the Asian F2P (free to play) MMO market, it will be very interesting to see if Blizzard or EA Mythic will follow SOE’s lead. Smedley predicts that “over time it’s going to become a mainstream thing,” but over the next few years, we’ll see just how this develops.

Source: Virtual Goods News.


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not an issue
# Feb 09 2009 at 6:01 AM Rating: Decent
what will we all do when they close the doors to EQ or park it in a F2P game stable?

if the market helps keep EQ in the mainstreem of MMo games, and not parked over by planetside, I`m all for it, EQ is still a great game and has a deep seeded player/guild base that far reaches any other MMo to date.

bye EQ
# Feb 09 2009 at 3:50 AM Rating: Decent
223 posts
The introduction (or more like surprise introduction) of station cash was the last straw for me. After watching the quality of the game take a drastic downturn the last 3 years and with smedley turning the game into a Korean RMT it was time to move on. RIP EQ Dec 9,2008

After glancing over that interview it's also kind of sick how they are stooping to the level of going after a kid's $5.00 allowance.For shame.

Edited, Feb 9th 2009 7:06am by FCseven
pfff SOE...
# Feb 08 2009 at 1:15 PM Rating: Default
SOE never did care for EQ as a gameworld - ist nothing but a "electronic revenue" for them. And they don't care who or how plays the game neither as long as cash keeps rolling. If they could get away with feeding you dog poo $15 per pound - they gladly would.

This is excatly the reason one Eq1/2 started out as inherently superior game (compared to to WoW) and failed criticly due corporate greed attitude.
# Feb 08 2009 at 9:46 AM Rating: Decent
So the idea here is that you buy your weapons/armor/spells with real world cash now rather than getting them via playing the game? Can I buy exp too? How about a fully leveled character.
# Feb 08 2009 at 9:00 AM Rating: Decent
If I was a parent and saw that about Free Realms.. that game would not be purchased at all nor played in my house. What parent wants to hear begging at any time. True Greed. Someone needs to fire these morons who come up with this crap.
better stuff to buy
# Feb 07 2009 at 6:48 PM Rating: Default

Well for me i kinda like the idea SoE on the Station Cash... its something you can get easy if you have the cash for it. Am just hoping the armor package can results on armors that dont drop anymore so its worth getting... like in King's Casino but this time its real cash
better stuff to buy
# Feb 08 2009 at 12:05 AM Rating: Default
187 posts
That's the exact mentality that is ruining the game. If you can just buy your way to Uberness, whats the point in playing.

station cash
# Feb 07 2009 at 2:39 PM Rating: Decent
With subscriptions being dumped they needed another way to make money on these games.
Yea Right....
# Feb 07 2009 at 11:20 AM Rating: Decent
187 posts
Greedy Bastards.

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