I generally keep my cool when SOE does something stupid. I've been playing their MMOs for over a decade after all. I've had plenty of practice.
I didn't freak out when they dipped their toes in the microtransaction water with Legends of Norrath. I remained sanguine when they jumped into RMT with the LiveGamer deal. I was solidly behind the push towards F2P. Even during the hacks last year I crossed my fingers and carried on playing.
This is a bridge too far.
I knew about the ProSiebenSat.1 deal. It was signed in January, I believe, but it's taken until now for the details to emerge. I naively believed that a deal with a German television company would have little relevance to me, playing on American servers from the United Kingdom. After all, SoE have always been consistently and solidly pro-global and firmly against regional I.P. blocking, and anyway I'd been through this before.
In 2003 they did a deal with UbiSoft to run Everquest for them in Europe on a server called Venril Sathir. It was a pain. We had to be very careful when installing expansions for a while in case we accidentally ended up with UbiSoft accounts instead of adding them to our existing SOE accounts, but there was never any suggestion that we had to move to UbiSoft. It was a choice.
A bad choice, of course. We thought about it for all of a millisecond and then said "Nah!" UbiSoft ran a loose ship. Much complaining ensued. Eventually the deal expired and SOE took Venril Sathir back into the fold, where it eventually merged with some other server. I imagine. That's what usually happens. Don't ask me, I wasn't playing on it.
What with that and the NGE you might think SOE would have learned a lesson. Oh, and let's not forget LiveGamer and their Bazaar servers. That went well, didn't it? Where's The Bazaar now? Oh yes, that's right. Merged with Freeport. And where are LiveGamer? You may well ask.
Freeport. Hmm. Wasn't that the only F2P server for a year or so? Making it the de facto global EQ2 F2P server? Why, yes it was. And is. And as it happens every single person in our Freeport guild turns out to be European despite the server being based in the U.S. Not because we don't like Americans or Australians or [insert your nationality here]
That's the sodding POINT of MMOs. You run around bumping into lovely or horrible people from all over the world and the lovely ones become your imaginary friends. Virtual friends. Friends for pete's sake. You do stuff with them and build relationships and compile virtual collective assets like guild halls and memories and you do not expect the people you are paying to provide the communications service for all this to come along out of the blue and announce that they have sold you to someone else!
I am fuming about this. So are the people who have been fueling the inevitable thread on the SOE forums, currently at 58 pages and being Mod-Locked like there's no tomorrow. Mrs Bhagpuss and I and the European players in our guild aren't the worst affected by this by any means, though. Yes, it looks as though our personal and possibly even our payment details may be transferred without our consent to a company we would never otherwise have heard of. Yes, the deal omits Vanguard and EQ1 so our Station Access accounts will be rendered effectively null and void (FAQ on this from SOE pending, presumably while someone goes "D'Oh!!!" repeatedly, since apparently that was one of the things no-one thought of. Feldon has a list of those). Yes, we will need to purchase two forms of fairy gold because PSS1 have their own make-believe money instead of Station Cash...
But at least our right to go on playing EQ2 on US servers is grandfathered in. For now. With no details on if that includes any new characters we might want to make. And no promises on how long before that right might be revoked. At least when the dread date comes we will still be able to log in. If we still want to. Which is in doubt.
Players outside PSS1's remit, which is basically all of Europe plus unnamed countries to be added at an unspecified time, who happen to have characters on Splitpaw or Storms or any of the other European servers will be IP locked out. End of. No matter if you happen to live in Texas but have been playing on Splitpaw for years because you work the nightshift. Nor if you were in the US Military stationed in Germany when you started playing EQ2 so you joined a server with a good ping where they raided at hours that suited you. Bad luck on you when you get back to the States because your characters are staying in Germany and you just lost all visiting rights.
Enough of that. I just filled out my GW2 beta application and I'm off to fill one in for Mrs Bhagpuss. When it comes round to the EQNext beta, if my only choice is PSS1 who knows if I'll even bother?