I eventually quit after a year. Everquest was far to grindy for my tastes and it took far too long to reach the end-game content, especially for the semi-hardcore player.
So being an old Everquest player, I am well familiar with the name John Smedley. I have no particular memories of him, other than that he was the producer of Everquest. I reserved most of my distaste for designer, Brad McQuaid. (After quitting Everquest, I resolved never to play a Brad McQuaid game ever again, and I've kept that resolution. Not entirely difficult, considering he's continued to design garbage since Everquest.)
I was a tad confused early this week when I received notification that John Smedley was following me on Twitter.
Why would the president of Sony Online Entertainment be following me? Looking into it, he'd begun following a few other EVE Online bloggers as well.
My initial assumption was that, with the impending release of DUST 514, Sony was getting a feel for the EVE Online community (not that I'm representative of the community, though I'd like to think some of my anti-Carebear and anti-Theme Park MMO views might be.) Perhaps getting a feel for the community with an eye to a potential purchase of CCP? Especially if DUST 514 turns out to be a success? It's certainly not out of the realm of possibility. A popular game on the Playstation 3 console by a small, affordable (by Sony's standards) game development house. That's something Sony would like to have complete control over.
Having a high level audience member, I decided to tweet some quick views on a potential Sony buyout of CCP:
Here's a message for Sony. If you're considering purchasing CCP, do not pussify EVE Online. This is not a theme park MMO. You will lose most of the current subscribers. And the game is too difficult and doesn't have the PvE content to attract theme parkers.Following is one thing. Actually reading is another. I was happily surprised when he replied:
Just a player. Nothing more. I like Internet Spaceships. Well I like blowing up other people's Internet spaceshipsSony buying out CCP. This is purely thought experiment. I don't even see CCP wanting to sell, to anyone. Viking pride and all that. At least on the part of Hilmar. He has investors, of course, and they might be swinging a different axe. But it's an interesting exercise to consider the prospect of such a purchase nonetheless. Hell, the idea of this happening comes up every couple of months. And when it does, I, like most of you, immediately assume that it will be the death knell of EVE Online. Sony created the theme park MMO, after all. Everquest. That landmark title still defines that market thirteen years on. As highly passionate fans of EVE Online, we know that the theme park and the sandbox are a hard mix. Two entirely different MMO concepts. Sony, we fear, would simply try to wrestle EVE into the theme park model.
When The Mittani tweeted some information on Mr. Smedley, his insight was nothing but confirmation that Sony is chock full of theme parking carebears:
He's in Eve Uni and a big EVE nerd.Can't say that was at all surprising. The dude that created Everquest, in the University, with all the other super carebears? Nope. Not that surprising at all. Now all I wanted to do was to find out who his character might be so that I could hunt and gank him.
But wait. The Mittani had out-dated information. John Smedley corrected the error with another tweet:
Hah all I'll say is I'm in the CFC now :)Holy shit. Mr. SOE-President-Dude is not a carebear. You don't hang with the CFC and then bemoan privately to yourself that highsec should be PvP-free. Seriously. Colour me exceptionally surprised. You can't be in the CFC, by personal choice, and not understand what makes EVE Online fantastic, what makes it tick, what makes the sandbox work. You can't be in the CFC and not understand tears.
A little later he confirmed that he understands EVE:
More power to anyone that likes to mine. Makes them easier targets.There'll be shits who'll want to bitch that ganking miners (or encouraging it) is not becoming of the president of the gaming division of a respected multinational company. Put that shit to bed. Dude's a gamer. He can enjoy EVE however the hell he wants. If the Pope wants to gank miners, thumbs up to him too (although that would be less surprising; Elisha ganked children with bears, after all.)
So, back to the Sony/CCP question. What if Sony was interested in purchasing CCP?
The first scenario, is that Sony expresses an internal desire to purchase a sci-fi MMO. They approach Smedley for his opinion. Given that he's an enthusiastic EVE player and seems to understand not only the game, but the culture, he might very well dissuade Sony from pursuing CCP. The culture of EVE Online is wrong for Sony, and any attempt to change the game would likely result in the exodus of a good percentage of the playerbase. I see this as the most likely scenario. Sony moves on elsewhere and purchases Perpetuum or something.
But, what if Sony is really persistent, or if Smedley gives the nod to such a purchase? What if Sony bought out CCP?
CCP would likely come under the purview of John Smedley, if such a purchase were made. It's not quite the immediate death knell to EVE we might have expected. If the dude who might potentially oversee EVE Online plays it, enjoys internet spaceships, and doesn't play it as a carebear, then that person probably understands EVE and enjoys it for exactly what it is.
Don't get me wrong. It wouldn't be great if Sony purchased CCP. It wouldn't even be good. But it would no longer be an automatically horrible thing. So, in terms of EVE remaining harsh and dangerous, hardcore and difficult, I couldn't see Smedley changing that direction in the game. I think he knows it would kill the game. Dead.
There, of course, would be certain changes. The forums would be more heavily moderated. Language in the game would be, as well. Carebears would raise more of a stink than ever before, knowing that it's easier to influence a company like Sony than it has been influencing CCP. And then the questions of microtransactions and pay-to-win? Sony would have no problem milking that cow.
Kind of a cool insight in John Smedley, for sure. Erased a boatload of misconceptions I had about him, him having been so intimately tied to Everquest in my memories. And as the overseer of Sony's online gaming division, it's not bad getting to know who the enemy is, and that he's not quite the enemy we might have expected him to be. Maybe a little bit of friend in there.
And if Sony ever did purchase CCP, at least I know I will not have to quit the moment it is announced. I can cautiously play wait and see.