I’m eating pizza, chicken wings, and drinking a collection of stout brews that are so dark, I’m pretty sure most are pure mud. It’s a night of collecting my thoughts after being stunned by the inevitable news that EQOA, a game I played throughout high school, post-college, and dedicated this very blog to remembering,was being laid to rest. It’ll be completing its 9th full year in March and by the end of that anniversary month, EQOA servers will go dark.
When I got home from work, I had an email from Wreck. We rarely email each other given that neither of us have played the game together in 8 months. It was a single line: “Not sure if you are aware but EQOA is getting shut down on March 29.” I honestly was surprised it had taken this long and yet I feel a bit betrayed by the news. Before I go any further I want to make two things very clear: First, I’m not sappy, not looking to be sappy, and have a lot bigger things in life to look forward to than Qeynos or Freeport. Second, I am fully aware that my lack of subscription to EQOA makes me a part of the problem. SOE owns the company and this was a business decision. I refuse to take it personally. With that said, I’m still feeling queasy.
I played the game from 2003 till 2005 when I left for college. Then started up again in January 2011 until July the same year. I always had plans of returning but always pushed away the thought. Even tonight I have had the thought in the back of mind of turning on my PS2 and loading up that damn cinematic vortex the game opens with. Yes, I agree to the terms and conditions. I’ll happily pay to waste my life on something that isn’t real.
I think a lot of gamers share the same feelings I had throughout EQOA’s life cycle. You dedicate your life to improving your status in the game and then every now and then you snap back to reality and realize, it’s just a game. This can’t go on forever. When I leveled up at the gnoll fort, I wasn’t improving my life in any measurable means. When I finally got my epic, I had nothing tangible to show my friends. I had accomplished so much in Tunaria but almost nothing in life. Wreck and I have been chatting back and forth since I got home from work and I made a comment about how the game took 9 years. He responded, “it took 9 years of my life.”
And I think that’s just it. It isn’t that I truly cared about getting a CV. It’s not that I want to see Lady Vox spawn again, or hell, even memorize the maze in her damn castle. It’s that loving a video game is so pitiful it’s almost unbelievable that in the end, it’s not even myself that opted to permanently quit, it’s the company that profited from my interest.
SOE created something unique, stabbed it a few times, then left it to die. When I say that I feel betrayed, it’s because I invested time and money into their efforts but they invested nothing back. Forgive me if I sound selfish but for god sake, we the players are the largest stake holders in this game and yet we had no vote in their decision. At the least, give us a heads up that your company is exploring the options of termination and give the players a chance to truly decide on the game’s fate. If returning players was the answer, then why didn’t you come out and say it? I wouldn’t put it past old players to return if it meant you would agree to keep EQOA online.
Lastly, what irks me the most is what poor business this is. If EQOA’s termination is a business decision. If EQOA wasn’t profitable, hell, if SOE isn’t profitable, then why kill something that’s already been created. You’re eating years of research and development. You have a good product that’s the base for something great. It might take effort but you already have a following. Plus, where’s the marketing? The updates? The customer service? Let the record show that you shut down on your players, your players didn’t shut down on you.
Best of luck.