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1999: Warning - EverQuest Is Bad For Your Health!
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 13, 2002   |   Episode 18 (Show Archive)  

The Scoop: We have talked about how Final Fantasy VII made the suits realize Role Playing Games had a loyal following (1997), and we've discussed how online gaming seems to be the way of the future (2002) ... but in 1999 marrying them was a risky venture.

The same team responsible for the terrible, terrible Twisted Metal 3 and a number of other horrible PlayStation games, finally found an engine that would lead them to greatness. EverQuest quickly found an audience who was willing to pay a monthly fee to take over an alter ego, and have the adventure of their lifetime. Be it with friends, or solo, EverQuest had a community like no other.

Even though Ultima Online was released before EverQuest, it's Sony's title that would ultimately spawn a whole new world of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games. EverQuest would prove that a large amount of people were willing to pay a little extra a month to play certain games online, a practice found even today.

The Other Side: Many gamers don't want to pay a monthly fee to play their games online. They understand the need, and the
benefits it brings them, but when it comes down to $10 extra a month, many frugal gamers just aren't interested. It's also a hard sell to just casual gamers, those who do not plan on spending twenty or more hours a week on a game.

There were other Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games on the market that offered similar content, including Asherons Call and Ultima Online. Early on it was hard to decide on which game you wanted to pay to play, and so many gamers just lost interest. And frankly, a lot of gamers found it hard to justify paying a monthly fee when they were having just as much fun playing Diablo or WarCraft online for free.

The Impact: While there were other companies making you pay to use their service, no game was able to attract as many users in as short amount of time. The Success of EverQuest proved that this marketing structure could work, and if done correctly, it could be extremely profitable. If companies hadn't considered it before, online RPGs were suddenly right in the middle of their consciousness.

Console gamers have not been left out, either. Though Phantasy Star Online can hardly be classified as a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, Sega has made gamers pay to play ever since Episode II on the Dreamcast.
Final Fantasy XI and EverQuest Online Adventure both take PlayStation 2 users online for a price, and even the Xbox requires users to pay a yearly fee to go online.

Where Are They Now?: EverQuest is still bringing the big numbers, even if the huge push for the game has died down a bit. At this years E3 Sony Online Entertainment showcased what they had of EverQuest II, not to mention, show the first screens of what would be the PlayStation 2 version, called EverQuest Online Adventure.

Away from the confines of the game, though, there are EverQuest conventions, web sites, and more fan fiction than would ever want to read. It's a phenomenon that is unlike anything the video game market has ever seen. In fifty years EverQuest may not be THE name in Online RPGs, but it will always be remembered for ushering in this new experience.


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