SOE’s first blockbuster MMORPG, EverQuest, celebrated its tenth anniversary yesterday – ten years of PKing, training to zone, phat lewts, and all that other fun MMO stuff.

It’s hard to imagine a MMO space without uber-juggernaut World of Warcraft, but nevertheless, MMOs did indeed exist before WoW. While it might not have been the first of its kind – preceded by games like Ultima Online and Meridian 59EverQuest was the first real breakthrough MMO, the one that first brought the genre to public notice. UO might have been Wolfenstein 3D, but EQ was Doom – the game that set a standard for the genre that is still being followed today.

In a world before WoW, “EverCrack” was once the big man on campus until its reign was challenged by Final Fantasy XI. Though it may not be as popular or as big as it once was, EQ is still chugging along, releasing its fifteenth expansion pack, Seeds of Destruction, last October.

John Smedley, the boss of San Diego-based Sony Online Entertainment, called the anniversary “a major milestone for SOE and the entire interactive entertainment industry,” and praised the EQ loyalists, saying that the brand’s success was entirely due to them. Of course, saying that a brand’s popularity was due to people liking it … feels kind of obvious if you think about it.

Smedley told Edge that development for the game had started thirteen years ago, back in the foggy past of 1996, and after three years under construction, EQ launched on March 16, 1999. To put the scale of EQ in a different light, SOE offered up some figures:

* There are over 12 million player-created characters in the game.
* Over 1 million NPCs populate EverQuest.
* There are 350 square miles of environments explorable in the game.
* Over 10 quadrillion bytes of EverQuest data have left the SOE network in the past ten years.
* The heaviest hours of operation for EverQuest are from 3 p.m. PST to 11 p.m. PST, with the biggest days being Thursday and Sunday.
* There are about 2,500 pairs of pants in-game.

Our sister site WarCry has an interview up with Lydia Pope, a SOE veteran who has been with EverQuest for all ten years, from Game Master and Game Designer to Community manager. SOE has set up an official site for the anniversary themselves.

Grats on dinging 10, EQ. Now go kill ten more squirrels.

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