Today marks the twelfth anniversary of the original EverQuest. What keeps one of the original big massively-multiplayer fantasy games going after all these years?
Ask a hardcore EverQuest player why they're still playing a 12-year-old game, and they'll shower you with stories of their fantastic adventures, anecdotes that are only humorous to folks that have spent time in the Norrathian trenches, and fond recollections of friends that have come and gone over the years.
I spent more than my fair share of time in Norrath, so I understand the allure. Had circumstances been different, I might still be playing today.
But for an outsider the allure is hard to quantify.
Even for gaming insiders the appeal can be a mystery. In the past 12 years EverQuest has fallen from its position as the leading fantasy MMO, Blizzard's World of Warcraft eclipsing its success as well as the success of its follow-up, EverQuest 2. Other subscription-based games have made the move to the free-to-play model, leaching away even more former EverQuest players.
Yet still Sony Online Entertainment soldiers on, releasing regular updates for EverQuest, EverQuest 2, and working on the mysterious third entry in the series, EverQuest next.
What keeps them going? I asked SOE president John Smedley that very question.
"EverQuest is still a large part of who we are at SOE," Smedley explained. "It's our past, present and our future. It still has a lot of players and it still makes a lot of money, and we see that continuing for many years to come."
With the anniversary upon us, SOE has released some impressive numbers generated by the game over the years that support Smedley's words. More than 12 million characters have been created in the game, with more than 3 million of those being played in the past six months, exploring EverQuest's 16,000 quests, 350 square miles of explorable area, in search of the 3,000 items that have yet to be discovered by the game's players.
So there's still life in the old girl yet, and SOE doesn't plan on pulling the plug anytime soon.
John Smedley will be joining the EverQuest community team today at 4PM Pacific time for a live webcast looking back at the first 12 years of EverQuest.