In a letter released on Sony's EverQuest site, John Smedley, the president of Sony Online Entertainment, spoke to his customers about the company's plans for the future, and the state of the online gaming market.
"With the launch of EverQuest II, our goal was to refine EverQuest… to distill the things that made EverQuest great, but also to add its own flavor and gameplay style. I think it's fair to say we also needed to aim for a more casual gamer...As a company we needed to also appeal to a wider base of people," he commented, remarking on changes to the series that came with the release of EverQuest II last November. "The biggest thing we've learned is that our players care very much about everything we do and the changes we make to their world. I cannot tell you how many thousands of emails I've gotten over the years complaining about class balance, nerfs, and overall changes we've made to the game."
Smedley also mused about the overall market and the growth it has experienced since its humble beginnings with EverQuest and Ultima Online back in the mid-90s: "
In the United States there are around 2 Million paying online gamers (this is after WoW btw[sic]). That's up from 250,000 back before EverQuest was released... and I'm only counting the MMO's.. if you start to add in the Pogo's of the world we're probably talking about 3-4 Million online gamers... and I have no idea what scary numbers some of these online poker places are bringing in."
He also complimented Blizzard Entertainment on its World of Warcraft, saying " To a game developer, having another game developer play your game is the ultimate compliment… so to the folks at Blizzard we say 'Nicely done'."
Finally, the president gave gamers a glimpse of what they might expect from Sony's future MMO offerings, commenting on the possibility of raising virtual children and user-created dungeons.
In all, the letter paints a very rosy picture for the devoted legions of EverQuest subscribers, and Smedley thanked them for making his team's work possible. He appealed to readers for their suggestions, saying "I at least want to start this dialogue and stir the pot a little. We're very interested in your ideas about where things go from here."
For those interested in the full text of the letter, it is available here. Sony currently operates a wide variety of online games from its Sony Station website.