An Editorial by Raya
Sony Online Entertainment has shocked the gaming industry, players and devs alike, with its recent announcement post on the EQII Producer's Forum by Steve Moorgard, Community Manager for EQII. The news itself was from SoE President, John Smedly. Here is an excerpt:
Originally Posted by Moorgard
Starting in late June, SOE will begin offering a new service called Station Exchange. This secure service will allow EverQuest II players on specific servers to buy and sell the right to use items, coin and characters. To be clear, all we are doing is facilitating these transactions. We are NOT in the business of selling virtual goods ourselves. [Go here for the full announcement.]
This is a huge break by a major gaming company in the previous line against secondary in game sales for real world money. With the Vanguard community wanting some kind of reassurance from Sigil Games Online on the issue, I went to the spokeswoman for Sigil. Here is what Cindy Bowens, Community Manager at Sigil, had to say:
"We have always been opposed to secondary sales in Vanguard and will continue to do all we can to keep them from harming our game. Other companies may choose to incorporate them into their games, either by design or as an afterthought. And that's their choice. Our stance has always been that these sales should not be allowed into games against the wishes of the developers. While we may not choose the same path as other companies, it is their right to make that choice. But again, this is not the plan for Vanguard.
"Nothing has changed as far as we are concerned."
This assurance comes on the heels of the post recently by Aradune Mithara (Brad McQuaid, President & CEO of Sigil) on the official Vanguard forums in answer to the many calls for reassurance on this topic:
Wow, what to say. I'm still reeling a bit.
A lot of you brought up money: that this sort of decision was based on money, and in one sense it likely was.
But, honestly, we're all in this for the money (and the fun, etc. -- how often does one do something for only 'one' reason?).
The money and fun we're looking for results from a popular game that lasts years and years. To that end we're constantly thinking about retention mechanisms -- ways to make the game stay fun and entertaining and compelling for that long. It's not easy. One thing we know is that we have to protect the long term health and balance of the game, and that a big part of that is the game's economy (especially given its item-centricity).
There are a lot of ways to do things short term in an MMOG. You could be a really popular company short term by popping into an area of the game for a few hours as your GM character and handing out high level items to newbies. I'm sure you'd be cheered and have quite a following. But it would mess up the game and cheapen other players’ experiences, so it would be a bad idea.
Likewise, one could sell high level items in-game for in-game plat or out of game, on eBay. The former could be quite an in-game money sink, and the latter a real-life money maker. Both, however, would hurt the overall health of the game.
My point is that facilitating the out-of-game sales of in-game items is undoubtedly a way to make money short term and also to control to some extent (or at least get a piece of) the money being made by third parties engaging in this sort of thing. This is, obviously, appealing in the short term and to someone who may not understand the importance of protecting the long term health and integrity of the game and what really makes an MMOG tick.
Vanguard is being designed as a home for the core gamer for months and years. It is also a game designed such that the integrity of the player driven economy is paramount. Because of that, out-of-game sales will harm Vanguard (they will happen to some degree, although we are determined to stop them in any way possible). Likewise, participating in shortening the lifespan of Vanguard in order make money short term is not compatible with our business plan... our vision… our desire to make money long term and host a game that lasts for years, do expansions, build our company, and hopefully create other MMOGs in the future.
So it's not going to happen.
President & CEO, Sigil Games Online, Inc.
Executive Producer, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
There are a few threads at the OVF dealing with this matter. The links are listed below:
Sony sold out…will Sigil be able to resist the 2nd Market?
Sony seems to support selling in game items for money now...
I don't think people can get much plainer than that. It seems incredible to this reporter that some people keep on asking for reassurance. The game is not in beta yet and the hatches are battened until E3, at which time Sigil spokesmen, including Brad McQuaid himself, have promised a lot more information. We await May 17 and onwards with great anticipation. In the meantime, it will be very interesting to see what develops over at EQII.