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SOE Director talks Everquest, Pirates of the Burning Sea and MMOs

by Steven Williamson on 18 January 2008, 10:06

Tags: Sony Computers Entertainment Europe (NYSE:SNE), Sony Online Entertainment (NYSE:SNE), MMOG

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qalap

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We always try to create games that are easy to pick up and play, but offer complexity to those that desire it.

SOE The following Q&A was conducted exclusively for HEXUS.gaming with John Hayase, Director of Development at Sony Online Entertainment's San Diego studio.

John discusses the Everquest brand, SOE’s commitment to developing new entertainment experiences, and the swashbuckling MMORPG, Pirates of the Burning Sea.

HEXUS: The EverQuest brand has been around for many years – can you encapsulate what you feel the brand stands for, how you feel it has evolved over the years and the reasons for its success?
John:I would say that the EverQuest brand stands for great story-telling, solid gameplay and attention to detail. The lore behind EverQuest is rich and complex, with epic storylines that can be played and replayed from many different perspectives. I think that the main reasons for its continued success are the passionate and committed individuals that develop and support the game.

HEXUS: Do you feel that the EverQuest I/II is still a title that newbies to the MMO scene can easily get into or do you feel the focus and user base is geared more to the ardent and dedicated players?
John: EverQuest II is certainly a game that newbies can easily get into. The gameplay mechanics and controls are relatively easy to understand and there is a tutorial that walks new players through the key aspects of the game.

HEXUS: It is confusing to many that there are two EverQuest brands. Can you briefly tell our readers how EverQuest II evolved from EverQuest and how each correlates to the other?
EverQuest and EverQuest II are both based on the same lore, but are otherwise separate and offer distinctly gameplay experiences.

HEXUS: Relating to question 2, with each subsequent expansion for EverQuest II does the game exponentially lose a number of avid gamers and how much fluctuation is there with the user base?
John: All games experience a certain amount of turnover in their player communities, so we’ve learned to live with that. Since we are operating a paid service, we have a live support team that actively updates the game between expansions to provide fresh content to our player community, keeping them interested on an ongoing basis.

HEXUS: There has been media opinion over the last few years that the MMO scene is a rapidly growing one but the user base does not seem to be growing at the kind of rate expected. Do you feel that the rapidly expanding console base will eventually overtake the massive PC base and is Sony looking towards PS3 and 360 as a target audience?
John: I believe that the PC and console markets should be able to coexist without much trouble for quite a while. SOE has recently announced that many of our new MMO games such as The Agency and Free Realms will be designed for PC and PS3 online gameplay. We’re also working on a plethora of downloadable games for the PS3.

Interview continues overleaf (click drop down bar).