EverQuest abandons monthly fee to bring back lost players

March 15, 2012 | 9:00 a.m.

EverQuest, once the king of all massively multiplayer online games, will open the doors of its virtual fantasy kingdom to all on Friday as a free game.

The move by Sony Online Entertainment is part of a broader effort by the company to shift its online titles toward the more popular free model, in which games make money selling virtual goods rather than charging a monthly fee, typically $15. Sony, for example, decided to make parts of its DC Universe Online game available for free last year in order to lure more players.

Launched 13 years ago, EverQuest defined the massively multiplayer online, or MMO, genre long before World of Warcraft came around in 2004. But Warcraft gradually eclipsed EverQuest as well as its successor, EverQuest II, and amassed 12 million subscribers at its peak in October 2010.

Sony will not disclose current subscriber numbers for EverQuest, but the game had less than half a million players when the company last released its subscriber count in 2004.

In total, about 5 million people have played EverQuest, according to John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment.

“Our goal with EverQuest is simple — bring a lot of older players back,” he said. “When we’ve done our win-back campaigns, they’ve been very successful.”

After EverQuest II became free in December, Sony saw a 300% increase in the number of players in the following three months — many of them lapsed EverQuest players. Sales of virtual items grew 200% in the same time period, Smedley said.

“The economy’s changing,” Smedley said, “and we’re trying to change with it.”

– Alex Pham

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Comments


10 Responses to EverQuest abandons monthly fee to bring back lost players

  1. Flash says:

    After ripping people off for years and blood leeching as much money as they could (15 dollars a month and 50 dollars per expansion) do the math, raising the price to play year after year. NOW they finally want to make the game free play…YOU CHASED EVERYONE AWAY!

  2. John says:

    They did not raise the cost year after year.

  3. Daniel says:

    I actually went all access after playing Everquest 2 for a year. Now I play both EQ2 and EQ. EQ is actually very enjoyable, despite the dated graphics, but then again, I remember when games had to rely on story and humor instead of graphics. My wife and I have been playing fantasy games since the C64 days.

    If I'd realized how good EQ was, I'd have played it years ago. Free to Play gets people in to a game but subscribing is best. With Station Access, I can play both for about $20 a month. We went lifetime in LOTRO the first year so we have three inexpensive options. Just have to watch how much we spend on station cash. That's where games get you, all the cosmetic items, house items, pets and mounts available for real money.

  4. andrew says:

    EQ back in 2002-2007 was the best 5 years of my life. it doesnt matter if the graphics are dated. The friends you make online and the fun times were well worth my $15 a month.

  5. Tommy says:

    Am I mistaken, or was it like 6 years ago it was 13 dollars? Think about the player increase if you lowered it to 10 dollars (which is understandable if not due to server upkeep). You think they’d promote me if I advertised at school and around town? XD

  6. DungeonTroll says:

    Noone is going to pay $15/month for a game made in 2004 and noone is going to play a free-to-play where everything costs money. Greedy SOE gets none of my money.

  7. Lindsy says:

    Everquest WAS just under $11 a month back in 2000. I know because it has my payment history from back then!I signed up for EQ back at the end of 1999. Haven't touched it since around 2002 or so… and I was able to contact Sony, and get back my old account, with all my toons still there! NOW, talk about nostalgia!

  8. Damian says:

    Per a previous post, EQ dates back to at least 1998 which is when I started playing. The games graphics are dated but it remains one of the best MMO's of all time in my book and so far no game has topped it. I keep returning to EQ after being continually disappointed by newer games.

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