EverQuest Next Landmark: Pay-to-play alpha

landmarkBig news yesterday, as SOE announced that EverQuest Next Landmark was starting to sell pre-order packages, I’m sorry, Founder’s Packs.  This was paired with the news of test schedule dates, with alpha being “on or before” 2/28/14 and closed beta “on or before” 3/31/14.  So alpha for a month, closed beta for a month, and presumably open beta in April.

Lots of excitement and debate over these pre-order packages, especially since one of the big selling points is getting that alpha or beta access.  For some folks, paying for alpha/beta is a win-win scenario for studios (“they’re paying to test our game!”) at the expense (literally) of the playerbase.  Of course, this sort of thing is nothing new; Ultima Online sold beta keys back in the 90s, and just about every Kickstarter MMO out there right now has early access/alpha access/beta access as part of their reward tiers.  And those might not even come out at all — at least Landmark is a pretty sure bet, right?

Hey, I’m not going to tell you how to spend your money.  Heaven knows that I usually go a little bonkers with pre-orders and collector’s editions (can’t wait to see what WildStar’s is!).  But this is making me contemplate.

First of all, I am still trying to get a feel for what Landmark *is*, and I don’t think I’m the only one.  It’s something a little bit different to the point where SOE is struggling to sell it clearly.  It’s both a toolset and a full MMO.  It will have many of the same features of EverQuest Next but it also won’t.  It’ll have multiple worlds and ways to sell your creations for real money and I don’t know what else.  Honestly, if EQN and EQNL came out at the same time, I’d probably go straight to EQN without apology just for the clarity of it all.

That’s not to say that Landmark doesn’t look intriguing.  I’m hearing really, really good things about its toolset, its ease of use, and I think the potential could be incredible.  And the fact that it’s coming out first means that even if Next is your thing, you can either get a taste of what Next is like with Landmark or just wait.  I don’t think gamers are generally patient enough to wait.

MJ told me yesterday that even though there will be alpha and beta wipes, you will be able to save your creations via templates, so there’s some persistence that will happen.  This kind of changes my approach.  Normally I’m not that keen on betas, but a beta that allows me to carry some progress forward is a different story.

Then there are the packages.  The lowest tier is $20 for closed beta, a banner, and a fancy pickaxe, but once beta ends that’s not a lot that you’re going to retain for the live game.  For me, if I’m going to buy into one of these, I might as well either go for the higher-priced packages.  Increased inventory, a fancy vault, bonuses to gathering and crafting, cool outfits (which you can see in videos), and that alpha/beta access.  The $100 package has the most bells and whistles, including a two-day head start in the open beta to stake your claims and get the best plots before everyone else comes in.

I think this last perk won’t be as big of a deal as some think it is.  The worlds will be large and undoubtedly SOE will be releasing new worlds (and virgin territory) as time goes on.

So far I haven’t bought anything.  I might wait until after Christmas to do so, if I do at all.  It’s important to remember that Landmark, like Next, will be free-to-play.  These packages are just niceties, not necessities.

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6 thoughts on “EverQuest Next Landmark: Pay-to-play alpha

  1. That’s interesting information about saving progress in Templates. I have no issue with paying for a beta package – as you say it’s a practice that’s been around a long time. I did, however, struggle with the idea of participating heavily in a beta for a game based on building things and then having everything I’d built wiped away for Launch.

    I’m also leaning towards the $50 alpha Explorer kit, although if I have enough patience I might wait for the $20 beta one. Pretty sure I won’t have the patience to wait all the way to launch.

    I also agree that the significance of getting to claims first just can’t matter *that* much. Imagine the game turns out to be really successful and a couple of million people jump in over the first few months. If all the really good land went to the early adopters, what would that do for the ongoing commercial viability of the game? I would bet there will always be enough desirable land to go arou8nd now matter how many people turn up to stake a claim nor how late they arrive.

  2. I am debating going all in on this one. I love these types of games, plus the ties to Everquest and the potential for carry over into Next makes me want to go hard at trying to build some really awesome dungeons.

  3. I agree with your sentiment on where Landmark stands in the grand scheme of things. I think my biggest problem with this is that I have no idea what Landmark really is and how it really connects to EverQuest Next. I want to play EQN. Is Landmark going to be really connected to EQN, to the point that I would miss it if I did not get involved? Or will it be essentially a different “game” that people can indulge in as a whim?

    Pig in a poke, as they say. Call me when EQN access is under discussion.

  4. Remember, one of the things SOE said about Landmark right from the beginning was that stuff built in Landmark has a chance of being included in the full Next release. Presumably either in the base client or in the cash shop under the Player Studio banner.

    To me that’s what the main point of Landmark seems to be, a way for SOE to ensure that Next launches with a large in-game store with lots of selection without burdening their art team with the entire endeavor. An additional goal is probably to suss out any really heinous exploits and bugs that still linger within their player controlled world editing tools so as not to taint Next’s launch with such drama.

  5. To each their own, but paying for access to an incomplete and buggy version of a game that will be free at launch is a very tough sell for me. No thanks.

  6. I feel that SOE is hoping that there is enough hype being generated to entice people to spend money on the founder’s packs. If people want to spend their cash now on these things it is fine because the bonus items will most likely be available via Station cash.

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