The Tattered Notebook: How not to sell an expansion

Karen Bryan
K. Bryan|01.17.11

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The Tattered Notebook: How not to sell an expansion
One month.

That's all that's left before EverQuest II's new expansion, Destiny of Velious, goes live. I've been looking forward to this expansion since 2009, when rumors first emerged that there was some work on Velious content quietly going on. It's my favorite content from EverQuest, and it really marked a Golden Age for those who look back fondly at the game.

But with one month left, I'm left feeling frustrated and concerned. There's just too much silence about the expansion and too many questions left unanswered. Read on to see why the blank slate of Destiny of Velious is a troublesome sign for players.

I was thrilled to see the official announcement that Destiny of Velious is available for pre-order, mainly because I was beginning to worry about whether we'd even see this expansion at all. Back in August, Fan Faire attendees saw a short video that promoted the expansion, and there was a big cheer when flying mounts showed up on screen. But since then, things have been eerily silent when it comes to Velious. At first, it was understandable, since the launch date was far away and lots could change that would render some information inaccurate. But as the year came to a close, players were still patiently waiting for some sign of what to expect from the expansion... and were still met with silence.

In past years, SOE would have already set up a promo site to highlight a few zones or dungeons. Prior to the last expansion, players could see livestream video tours of Sentinel's Fate content, and the developers answered many questions along the way. In one of the most clever marketing campaigns I've seen, several fansites and blogs were given puzzle pieces containing snippets of lore that had to be translated and then pieced together by players.

Unfortunately, the only official "site" that promotes Destiny of Velious is a news post from the summer, and there has been little else to showcase this expansion.

A quick glance at the news archives on the EQII site is pretty revealing. There have been 49 news items in the past month, but only three direct mentions of the expansion -- one to announce beta, one to remind Fan Faire attendees to register, and one to announce the pre-order. Three news articles marginally pertain to the expansion, if you consider vampire lore to be a part of Velious content.

That's only six articles out of 49, so what else was newsworthy in EQII? Surprisingly (or maybe not), there were fourteen news items about Station Cash, three about Legends of Norrath, and one article about the new Facebook game, Fortune League. Hopefully, the proportion of news topics doesn't match the proportion of resources and time devoted to each of them.

At best, one has to wonder if all these side projects have become a distraction to the core game. Destiny of Velious has the potential to be an amazing, nostalgia-filled expansion that could breathe new life into the game. But right now, we almost know more about Blizzard's next MMO than we do about Velious.

Give us some Velious lore that doesn't talk about vampires. Show us some screenshots of Coldain Dwarves, Giants, Othmir, a snowflake, anything! Even EverQuest had a trailer to promote its Velious expansion. Granted, it was a little low budget, and those filming it forgot to hide their UI at times, but it's better than nothing.

It's probably too late for a new site, but what about sending out some press releases on zones or dungeons? How about some new information about old Velious dungeons that will return or mobs that players will see once again? Show some more videos of flying mounts in action. Talk about any new game features that players might see for the first time in EQII. I'm not asking for Powerpoint presentations on gear changes or class tweaks. I know those are still in flux and are an emotional flash point, but why not broadly address zones, dungeons, mobs? If all that is being kept secret because things still might change this far into beta and this close to release, well, that really worries me.

Players have been clamoring for some marketing love for EQII for a while, and sadly, the only marketing so far has been the addition of three ads on game sites that, for some reason, I can't even see. The irony of all this is that SOE isn't even taking advantage of free marketing right now. Like Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, EQII players are kicking locker room walls yelling, "Help me help you!" Whet our appetites! Get us reminiscing about the old days. Get us excited to relive the fun of Velious, and we'll pull our old friends back in game to join us.

Put down the Station Cash for like two minutes and get talking about Velious. Please! If the old EQ trailer is correct, there are at least 700,000 players who trekked through the snowy lands of Velious and who probably would be eager to relive some of that nostalgia in EverQuest II. But it's hard to sell a game when people don't even know about it.

On another note, I've been livestreaming some instance runs in EQII, and I'll continue this Friday at 10:30 a.m. EST with a trip to Erudin Research Halls. The Erudites originally built it to study teleportation, but ended up porting in some very dangerous creatures. Join me and a group of my guildmates as we tackle the zone and prove that, once again, Gnomes are evil! I'm also interested in your suggestions for future shows. What would you like to see in EverQuest II? Interested in seeing an old dungeon crawl or some classic raid content? Curious about high-level group content or maybe a tour of the RnH guild hall? I'm happy to showcase whatever interests you, so let me know!

From the snow-capped mountains of New Halas to the mysterious waters of the Vasty Deep, Karen Bryan explores the lands of Norrath to share her tales of adventure. Armed with just a scimitar, a quill, and a dented iron stein, she reports on all the latest news from EverQuest II in her weekly column, The Tattered Notebook. You can send feedback or elven spirits to
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