by Moorgard on 2002-04-09This wasn't supposed to be posted until noon Pacific time, but everyone and their cousin blew it and ran with the story anyway, so we will, too.
Anyway, here's the official press release:
SONY ONLINE ENTERTAINMENT BRINGS BEST-SELLING EVERQUEST® BRAND EXCLUSIVELY TO PLAYSTATION®2 COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM
SAN DIEGO, CA - April 9, 2002 - Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) Inc., a worldwide leader in massively multiplayer online gaming, announced today that it will develop and publish EverQuest® Online Adventures(TM) for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system. In addition, SOE is now an official PlayStation 2 developer, specializing in massively multiplayer online games, an entirely new genre for the console player. EverQuest Online Adventures will be the world's premier online only console game, bringing the player interaction and community that made the original EverQuest so popular to a whole new audience of console gamers. The game is scheduled to launch in the spring of 2003.
"We have seen phenomenal success with the original EverQuest. The look, feel and functionality of the game provided the foundation on which we built a truly unique console-focused game," said John Smedley, chief operating officer, Sony Online Entertainment. "Relying on the many insights we have gained from EverQuest over the past three years, we strongly believe that EverQuest Online Adventures has what it takes to be a major success on the PlayStation 2."
EverQuest Online Adventures is a completely new game, designed to take full advantage of the PlayStation 2 system's capabilities. But like the original EverQuest, it will feature intricate character development, continuous player interaction and a strong sense of community, which is sure to create a phenomenon that PlayStation 2 gamers have never experienced before. With an installed base of more than 8.8 million units in the U.S., the PlayStation 2 represents an opportunity to expand the massively multiplayer online role-playing game onto new platforms, delivering a whole new genre to the console gamer.
"Quite simply, there is no other console game like this," said Don Vercelli, vice president of sales and marketing, Sony Online Entertainment. "The dedicated team at SOE has put in countless hours making sure that no other game would rival the level of character customization and atmospheric detail in EverQuest Online Adventures. This is truly a new experience for the console gamer."
Using the PlayStation 2 system's network adaptor, available in stores this August, EverQuest Online Adventures will connect seamlessly to the Internet, directing players to dedicated EverQuest Online Adventures servers. By connecting directly to dedicated servers, SOE can help to ensure low latency gameplay and fast connection times. Gamers simply insert the disc and the world of Norrath is just a few button pushes away. By 2005, Gartner Group estimates that 18 percent of American households will own an online enabled game console.
In case press releases leave you bleary eyed, here's a breakdown of the features and background of the game:
Taking the best elements from the world's largest, massively multi-player role-playing game for the PC, EverQuest Adventures brings role-playing, community interaction and player collaboration to the PlayStation2. The first-ever online-only console game is set in the world of Norrath, 500 years earlier than the PC game. EverQuest Adventures brings wondrous cities to explore, mythical lands to discover and endless enemies to defeat. With such a high level of unique player interaction, a cast of new characters to play and grow, you'll find thousands of quests to lead you through a world so vast it could take months to travel across the eight terrain types rendered in amazing detail. There is, quite simply, no other game for the PS2 like EverQuest Adventures.
Millions of possible character combinations:
· Nine playable races
· 13 classes of character
· Customizable sex, face, hair and more
A huge world to discover:
· More than 360 square miles to explore
· Seamless environment (no load times and no rails)
· Nine cities
· Eight terrains
· Unique quests promote player interaction
· 24/7 Evolving world - no required upgrades or additional software
Online only on the PlayStation2:
· Completely "plug and play"
· First ever online only console game
· Dedicated EverQuest Adventures servers
· Low latency over a 56K modem
· Interact with thousands of different characters each time you log on
· A different experience every time you play
Here are some screen shots and concept artwork:
The game sounds like a slightly scaled-down version of EverQuest set in an earlier era of Norrath's history. (Interestingly enough, I've always believed it would be cool to have an EverQuest sequel set in Norrath's past--I guess I was sort of on the mark.) How well this game will fit in to Verant's existing lore remains to be seen.
So what do you think? Is this product compelling enough to lure you away from Norrath to... uh, Norrath? Is Verant cannibalizing its own audience, or expanding it in a potentially big way? There are 8.8 million PS2 consoles in the US, and that number will likely grow significantly during the year before EOA is released. It seems like this new product is bound to be another huge success.
The notion of a streamlined user interface is intriguing. Besides the network adapter thing, serious players will no doubt need to add a keyboard of some type. After all, EQ is based around a text-based command structure, no matter how many graphical bells and whistles they've added over the years. EAO gives Verant the chance to try out new methods of player interaction that might be useful in future games for the PC.
The lack of patches and add-ons makes me wonder how they can fulfill the promise of a "24/7 Evolving world." Whatever they come up with out of the box is pretty much the world they'll have to stick with, so let's hope they get it right the first time.
Before you start in with "Verant should fix EQ before they produce any new games" or "this will reduce the number of people working on EverQuest," just relax. With the announcement of the Planes of Power expansion, I don't think we have to worry about Verant scaling back their dedication to our game. Certainly their PS/2 development team will be quite separate from their PC team--in terms of design, it would basically have to be.
It comes as no surprise that Sony is finally going to capitalize upon their mega-successful PC license via their mega-successful console gaming platform. Truth be told, a lot of people were expecting this announcement about a year ago. So I guess the question to ask is, "What took you so long?"