Recently SOE announced they had made a partnership with a company called ProSiebenSat.1 to manage most of SOE MMORPGs in Europe. This would including customer support, marketing, etc. All find and good except for one detail…. Part of the deal is is that european players would be region-locked to play on european servers only. While US players would only be able to play in US servers. Exceptions would be made for european players who already have characters in US servers. Those would be “grandfathered in”. There is a FAQ about the whole deal for those interested over in the Everquest 2′s forums.
If that by itself wasn’t bad enough there has been accusations of ProSiebenSat.1 posting personal information about their customers in forums, like real life names and billing.
Not convinced yet that this is a really bad idea? Well, Feldon of EQ2 Wire wrote 20 reasons of why this is a really bad move. He also has been covering the whole thing as they happen. Worth keeping tabs on his site for interested on it.
And as to be expected by anyone with a modicum of sense, there has been a huge outrage from this change as evidenced by the (at this time) 100+ pages of forum posts in the official Everquest 2′s forum.
My position on this whole thing is this: I am a brazilian playing on the US servers. I decided to cancel my gold subscription and boycott every SOE game until they revert the decision of region-locking the game. Granted, I was already planning to downgrade my account to silver status eventually. The difference is that there were certain things I wanted to get done before that and I still planned to stick around just to enjoy the decoration part of the game. I was even warming up to the idea of buying stuff from Station Cash as a silver player. With this turn of events however I not only won’t do any of that anymore but will also be adding SOE to my black list of companies to not have any dealings with in the future.
There are a few reasons for this. The first is that I can feel the pain of people being angry about this turn of events since living in Brazil I have being region locked out of enjoying a few online services, MMORPGs or buying digital versions of games. Examples would be Pandora, Hulu, Vindictus, most games in the Direct 2 Drive catalog in their early days plus a few others. In all these cases it sucked badly. Now imagine suffering that but after having invested years of your life and a good chunk of money on it, building relationships with other people across the world then suddenly all rules changing.
The second is that I always believed that the beauty of the internet is how it can easily ignore physical barriers to bring people from different parts of the world together. Having contact from people from different parts of the world was something that enriched my life in more ways than I could ever have imagined. Any attempt of artificially separating people goes against that. This is one such case and I can’t in good conscience support it either directly or indirectly.
Lastly, and this may seem silly to a lot of you, is that the only reason I even care about Everquest 2 is due to their good house decoration system and the community that was built around it. Some of the best decorators in the game are in euro servers. With this change I just won’t be able to visit their in-game houses anymore to appreciate their work since I would be in the wrong side of the globe.
I really hope they change their mind about this. In the mean time I will be spending the time I would be playing Everquest 2 in other pastures and keeping an eye on how they handle this situation. If they do come with a good solution to this mess then I will go back to playing Everquest 2.