The original design for Everquest Next, the upcoming installment in Sony's massively multiplayer online series, was scrapped so as not to present players with content similar to games like The Secret World and Star Wars: The Old Republic, Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley said in a recent interview with Massively.
Smedley said that Everquest Next was overhauled a year and a half ago. Although the engine, "guts and infrastructure" are the same, the company focused on changing "what the game is all about," tweaking design elements and moving towards more emergent gameplay.
"Once we made that shift, everything else had to follow," said Smedley. "And what we saw was Rift. We saw the writing on the wall with SWTOR. We saw The Secret World. We saw all these games that we knew were in development and very high-quality, but we saw what was going to happen—this big spike and then it goes down.
"That's the truth of what's been happening with MMOs," he added. "The fans need to realize that if you don't change the nature of what these games are, you're not going to change that core behavior. We want to make games that last more than 15 years. That's why we made the decision to change it."
Smedley added that most MMOs follow the same looting-based play structure, with very few moving beyond it. He said that while the next Everquest game will preserve its role-playing heritage, it will treat the world as its own in-game entity.
"What is the world in these other games?" he said. "It's a simple backdrop. It's nothing. We are changing that greatly. We're changing what AI is in these games to a degree that we're going to bring life to the world. That to us is the essence of the change that we're making."