SOE to Unlock Race & Class For Vet Characters

In a move surprising to some (and even me for a different reason,) SOE is electing to grandfather existing EQ2 characters who are currently locked down by the race and class restrictions of Silver accounts. (Link, Discussion & Massively news item.)

The details: Any character created before 12:01AM on 12/06/2011 will get race/class restrictions lifted, and former subscribers who purchased race or class unlocks between 12:01A< on 12/06/2011 and before 4:30PM on 12/08/2011 will get their purchases refunded. This does include me, so I am happy with the call. Not mentioned are character slot restrictions, so I assume that means that those restrictions will not be lifted. This is not live yet (as far as I can tell on my account) but word is it will be in place as of tomorrow’s patch.

There has been a great deal of sound and fury over the last few days on this issue; returning vets wanting to check things out under the new regime logged in only to find every character locked and left pissed off. I don’t endorse the worst of the entitled whining that ensued, but I do understand how the way it was working was a powerful disincentive to coming back. In other words, if the subscription plan wasn’t working for you before, nothing has changed about it, and so it will likely continue to not work for you. And the free/Silver plan might require you to shell out a significant amount of money just to get logged in and check things out.

I myself was in a semi-fortunate position, in that the two characters I had spent the most time with are in free races and classes. As it stood before the announcement, I would have had to spend quite a lot of money to free up all my characters and still get upgrades and the like. Assuming that the number of character slots I have today will carry forward, I am happy with this outcome. There are still issues with the way things are playing out with established accounts, but this is an equitable step and a good example of SOE trying to do the right thing.

As for the reason it’s surprising, SOE is a weird company sometimes. One moment they seem incredibly torpid, and the next they’re reacting to player demands with immense agility. One month they seem to ignore near-universal feedback and the next they’re paying too much attention to what players are telling them. It’s like the best company in the MMO business and the worst are both operating out of their offices.

Regardless, though, this is the right thing to do. The subscription remains as attractive as it ever was, and the whole idea behind freemium is to get people in and playing and spending a little bit here or there that they would otherwise have been prohibited from spending under the sub-only model.

12 responses to “SOE to Unlock Race & Class For Vet Characters

  1. SoE is always chaotic but at the moment it’s going through one of its manic phases. I really hope that it pays off for them commercially and that they maintain the current levels of energy and enthusiasm for a good long while.

    If you listened to Smokejumper’s extremely long podcast interview recently you’ll have heard him pretty much announce, by announcing that he was not authorized to announce, that there is more F2P to come from SoE. Unless I’m forgetting something, only Vanguard and EQ1 are left in the sub-required stable. My money’s on Vanguard to go F2P first but this time next year I would be surprised to see any sub-required MMOs left at SoE.

  2. Well, smoke is in charge of EQ1 so its probably that one.

    EQ1 would make a huge splash and keep the momentum up. If Vanguard goes F2P first, it might just fizzle and kill the momentum they have been building. If Vanguard goes F2P after EQ1 then it won’t hurt as much.

  3. Excellent! It happened….I can now access my previously locked 53 Half-Elf Monk, and several other alts.

  4. So, I haven’t played for about a year and been following this f2p thing peripherally. I had 12 character slots of which none were a free race/class combo. I had a ton of money, SF raid gear and the like. I just assumed I would have to resub or be nickled and dimed to just come back and check out f2p.
    I come across this today on my semi-regular blog run. Interesting. Sounds like I can at least update, log in and access all 12 toons.
    My question is should I resub or pay for various unlocks, would my gear and ALL my plat become available at that point or because the first time I log in will be under the basic vanila model, anything i’m not flagged for access to wil be lost?
    Thanks in advance for any insight or knowledge.

  5. You don’t lose anything, you’d only have to pay to equip new gear or spells, and if you’re under the currency cap you can’t get any more. If you then resubbed, all the limits go away.

  6. Smed has already strongly suggested that both Planetside2 and EQNext will be F2P. The whole interview appears to be behind a paywall at Gamesindustry.biz but the quote that as excerpted was that F2P is “something SOE is taking a close look at for our existing games and certainly for our future games.”

    I agree that Vanguard would hardly be worth the effort of converting at this stage, even though it’s a great game and very close to being my personal favorite MMO. The recent changes to things like the death penalty and the adding of a “golden path” do suggest the possibility, though. EQ1 at this stage would be overwhelming as a free product – it’s insanely large and complex compared to virtually anything else I can think of in the Western F2P market, plus there’s the issue of the decade-old graphics.

    On the other hand, why not?

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