EverQuesting: A 2016 franchise forecast for EverQuest Next, EverQuest, EverQuest II, and Landmark

We've looked back at 2015 for the launched games EverQuest and EverQuest II, the long-lasting beta of Landmark, and the MIA-and-presumed-dead (by some) EverQuest Next. Now it is time to look ahead at 2016. Instead of noting what we know, we get to speculate on what could be. What is on the horizon for this franchise? How will Norrath weather the next four seasons? Obviously a working crystal ball would be ideal right about now, but without one, we are left with trends, hopes, and outright wishful thinking. In 12 months we'll see just how many of these were accurate predictions! Here's what I see happening, what I want to happen, and what needs to happen in this next year for my favorite franchise.

What I see happening

Overall, I can see the franchise having a good year, but it will have to put some work into more than just the development side of things (see below in what needs to happen). EQ and EQII will continue moving ahead in development and keep their loyal fans fairly content with content. EQ Next will wow us with something; the world will see that it is still alive and kicking and has been chugging along steadily in development this whole time. And Landmark will see some updates expanding the building palette and adding at least one other feature (perhaps dungeons). It will also be the proving grounds of at least two more building contests, with one or more being focused on racial architecture. Of course, we'll also be amazed by awesome creations players have constructed!

Expansions are in! It looks like expansions are here to stay for the first two games. (At least until minds change again, that is.) EQII even has a leg up on its older sibling, having already given fans a hint at work being planned on the next expansion. That same tweet also noted possible spring content, so there might still be DLC-type releases like Rum Cellar. As for what is in the expansion, you can basically count on there being a new zone. However, previous expansions have already gone into the sky, underground, back to the starting isle, and even to the land of the dead. What is left? There is an exploded moon in the sky if we want space travel to start. Although an expansion underground seems to have the highest probability, a surreal experience visiting a realm of consciousness would certainly intrigue the psychologist in me. Perhaps we can enter the mind of an old god who slumbers? Or what about visiting a realm of those gods we worship on Norrath?

Classic EQ will also surely see another expansion. With so many more expansions already covering tons of content, I can see it being a bit dicey coming up with a completely new area, so perhaps an area from before will be expanded upon. What I do not see happening is anything akin to new races or classes for either game. Although those are definitely money draws, the amount of work needed to pull them off (reskinning gear, animations, new loot tables throughout the game, skills, class balance, etc.) is way out of proportion with the resources Daybreak appears to have to devote to them. Better to use the time developing new areas and such. I also see the expansion pricing scheme to continue as it was introduced last fall: a regular version, a pricey version, and an excuse-me-how-much-did-you-say version (with many extra goodies in the latter).

What I want to happen

One thing on the top of my 2016 want list is the return of a convention. It will undoubtedly have to be scaled back, but SOE Live not only did much for player morale but helped strengthen loyalty. And loyalty and morale are hot commodities! A new convention where devs show off stuff and mingle with players will rebuild those connections that were strained or lost during last year's turmoil. Trust me, players want to believe! And the familiarity and comfort of tradition will be soothing.

Game-wise, I want the storyteller game master system in Landmark. This is one piece that will expand the game into a game, and not just a building simulator, in the minds of many. It is the thing I am waiting for most! And while this almost fits in the needs-to-happen category, I'll place it here: Landmark's beta needs to open up. A closed beta for two nearly full years feels extreme.

As for EQN, by the end of the year I want to be able to jump in and test a part of the game. Yes, Landmark has the basis of many EQN systems, but I want to walk around Norrath itself. I'd be happy to be a ghost figure that can't do anything except just wander the landscapes and streets of the cities, looking at the environment. Even if we can't do anything in the world yet, let us see how it is coming along.

What needs to happen

I think Daybreak may have had a little more leniency this past year than it will enjoy in the new one. Folks can understand the chaos and shuffling that comes with massive upheaval, from the company change to the personnel changes to even the office change. However, the studio has had a year now to settle in and get things sorted. Whether that was truly enough time or not, public perception is going to think it is. There comes a time when reason starts blurring into excuse; in 2016 Daybreak won't be able to lean back on the changes as a reason for anything without losing face, or worse, riling fans up. The best way I see to avoid that pitfall is the one thing I see as really necessary for this next year: a return to the open development model that was being practiced so heavily in 2014.

eq16 3

Once you start being so open about development, you can't just stop! Players got used to hearing about what was going on, even when all of it wasn't earth-shattering news. It could even be talking about the difficulties and developmental walls that the team had run into. The point was devs were talking, keeping players in the loop. Now for EQ and EQII they still are. And bravo and thank you for that! But Landmark and EQN are still relatively -- if not totally -- silent. Switching from being open to closed-mouthed really makes it look like there is something to hide. This is surely not the image Daybreak wants to convey now.

I understand with a dwindled team and resources, that as much time that was devoted to community interaction and communication before -- be it in posts, livestreams, or even cons -- is not going to be happening now. Heck, we want the lion's share of attention to be focused on the actual development of the games as well. But informational feast versus famine is not the only option here. There's an awesome message I ascribe to in life: moderation in all things. The lines of communication need to open a bit more, not to flood us, but to provide at least a steady trickle of information. The key here is steady. Devs need to just start talking about Landmark and EverQuest Next again. It doesn't have to be a massive reveal of major proportions. It just has to be something. I've said it before: The silence is deafening. If we haven't heard anything by spring, I think folks will have officially moved on and just crossed EQN off their list for good. I would love to be shocked by an announcement of the game's launch this year, but I am not keeping my hopes up that far!

Until devs actually start dishing some EQN dirt, disappointment and even apathy is going to reign for this game. While it definitely isn't vaporware, that's not going to stop folks from feeling like it has all gone up in smoke. 2016 can be the year Daybreak reclaims the hype, or it can fall flat by leaving players in the dark too long. Once all the excitement that has been generated to play your game has been redistributed to something else, you'll never get it all back. And the longer you wait, the less you can retrieve.

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41 Comments on "EverQuesting: A 2016 franchise forecast for EverQuest Next, EverQuest, EverQuest II, and Landmark"

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jakemorey
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jakemorey

Knew it all along eqn cancled

Madda
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Madda

TrueGamer99 Madda Madda was totally was shooting for realistic. Yes. Very much so.

TrueGamer99
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TrueGamer99

Madda Somewhat amusing, but completely unrealistic. I hope you weren't shooting for realistic.

TrueGamer99
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TrueGamer99

ohforfs I'm pretty sure they have nothing Amazon needs or wants.

TrueGamer99
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TrueGamer99

Landmark, as a game, is pretty terrible. If you don't like building things, or just like to dabble, but you're terrible at it, then the game will have very little of interest to you.  Even those with the talent and skills to build magnificent creations will get bored eventually. The combat system and monsters are absolutely simplistic and boring.  I paid the $100 to get into the alpha/beta and I must say, that was probably the biggest waste of money I can think of. I'm not upset about having spent the money, just not happy that I got next to nothing for it. 

I'm sad to say that Daybreak is irrelevant in the gaming world of today and EQ fanbois who are still living in the year 2000-2005 are probably the only people who would disagree. I played the hell out of both EQ and EQ2, but let's get real. They are old, outdated games, hence the need for a new, shiny and modern Everquest Next.

Clearlee Chatterbox
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Clearlee Chatterbox

TheDonDude wrote: "... clearly Daybreak is not a company that cares about community relations."
QFT! And THAT is why they will die in 2017.  The sooner, the better- teach a lesson to other companies on how to lose your business.

Clearlee Chatterbox
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Clearlee Chatterbox

ohforfs 'sold to Amazon' would be a dream come true.

Clearlee Chatterbox
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Clearlee Chatterbox

Players are content with content?  Where did you hear THAT?

Alyndale
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Alyndale

2016...Daybreak...communication...
This is key if we are to actually hear evidence that there, in truth, is actual development of a "triple A" mmo in the works at Daybreak. All I, as a consumer and mmo hobbyist ask is that those people in charge of development actually talk to us without any "political double speak". I really do NOT want to hear the same thing delivered in a different way. I do not want to be told what I was told in 2014 or 2015. Just gimme some truth...as John Lennon sang back, "in the day"

Even if they had to go back to "square one" yet again, I actually think I could bear that. Yes, I would NOT be happy, but at least I heard some truth. Possibly, there was some technical problem that caused development to slow or completely stop while a "work-around" or a total revamp takes place. I can handle that. Maybe there were some changes in staffing that shifted a "philosophical" change in the way the mmo will appear. This isn't a BIG problem, just tell me and the hundreds of folks still slightly interested, (...and this is waning by the month).

Terry Michaels, it's time brother. Tis time to bring what is left of the followers of the mmo news. ...ANY NEWS, sir...Even better, show us you entire staff. I don't think I have actually seen the folks that are doing the brunt of the creative work. Seems like I remember Smed, as he was promoting H1V1 early last year sitting the quite a few of that mmo's creative force. Wouldn't that legitimize, in some way, that indeed we have coders, artists, story writers, ect. working to complete EQ:N and prep it for some kind of alpha before the decade is out?

Truth, and communication is all I seek, Daybreak.
https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/buddha133884.html?src=t_truth
https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/buddha.html 
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuFScoO4tb0
Alyn

ohforfs
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ohforfs

I foresee they will cancel EQ NExt in order to "concentrate on existing customers" - DAybreak will fattenup the studio with sub numbers and sell it in 2017 to someone like Amazon for a healthy profit - which was their mission all along. Failing this they will asset strip it.

You are dealing with the Russians here guys - the most brutal outcome is the most likely ;)

Madda
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Madda

Madda's Super Correct Predictions for Everquest in 2016

1st Quarter: 

Daybreak will showcase a new program that adds subscription models to all of their games.

2nd Quarter: 

Another Everquest Next Leak. Hype before realizing the game is nowhere near completion for an alpha or beta build.

With the success of the Warcraft movie, Everquest hatches their own idea for a film based on their game. Directorship goes to Uwe Bole

3rd Quarter: 

John Smedly will inadvertently slip and inform the public that Everquest Next will not release before 2017.

Landmark owners log in to find out they were playing a really well done Minecraft clone on Steam.

4th Quarter:

Daybreak is purchased by Amazon.

Tulerezzer
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Tulerezzer

EQN will be released... as a MOBA.

AaronTallman
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AaronTallman

karmamule jackofrost I think they lack the people now. with Dave G. gone, they seem to be lost whenever they speak up.

AaronTallman
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AaronTallman

thatchefdude Cujo H He's a really likable guy, I have no idea why they even thought they could do without him.

Caec
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Caec

I predict EQ Next will have been quietly revamped yet again and the next time you see a truly big reveal, it'll be a mobile game. 
/mic drop

AaronTallman
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AaronTallman

Wild_Phil The loss of storybricks makes game's future questionable as well.

thatchefdude
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thatchefdude

If EQN somehow manages to live up to all the promise from 2013/14 it could become one of the greatest MMOs ever for me personally, or it could become one of the best examples of all time of vaporware....

I don't really see any middle ground here

thatchefdude
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thatchefdude

Cujo H He's the Western Yoshi-P, shit gets done just by sheer will of his positive willpower and endless enthusiasm...

thatchefdude
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thatchefdude

If EQN launches (and I mean a real launch, not some early dev access shit) before mid 2017 I will eat my hat....

AaronTallman
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AaronTallman

Cujo H Yeah, that was a horrible mistake

Cujo H
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Cujo H

You could see the dividing line, the changing moment, after Dave G. was fired.  The whole series just hit a brick wall.

Serrenity
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Serrenity

Satyros Actually, the mobile market is really really risky.  There are a few big players in the space (Clash of Clans, Blank Blank Saga, etc) but the vast majority of mobiles games are only barely profitable.  If you look at companies GluMobile, or Gameloft, they produce the same essential game reskinned 20 or 30 times.  
There might be a lot of money in mobile, but it's such a ridiculously over-saturated market and any gains there are short term at best (like Rovio / Angry Birds has all but faded into obscurity as a mobile game).  Without a franchise to carry fans in, the mobile market has a lot of risk and not a lot of return.  Columbus Nova, may their name bring lice, will likely be very risk adverse--which we can see with doubling down on existing franchises and established games.

Sarigar
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Sarigar

I can't remember being more excited about an MMO than when I found out EverQuest Next was in the works. That was in 2013. Now I'm just waiting for the dread news of its premature demise.

_Space_Viking_
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_Space_Viking_

i tell everybody not to buy games from this company.

Wild_Phil
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Wild_Phil

chernabog Yea, Landmark was really neat in on paper in theory, but turned out to be a total dud in reality.  And I doubt it can actually be used as part of a game or anything.  And it, itself, is not a game, but some sort of tools for players experiment .

Damonvile
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Damonvile

welovekah TheDonDude They have no reason to cut any of the half finished titles though. People are still buying them even though they get next to nothing added. They'll also never say EQN is dead because people will wait forever hoping but once they get confirmation they may just move on to other places.

I think you're right about them not investing in new titles though. CN is in this for the quick buck. Spending 100s of millions of dollars building "a game" in the hopes of some wow like return just isn't going to show up in the numbers. It will always be a bad investment on paper for these types of people.

Wild_Phil
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Wild_Phil

I predict Daybreak sells the Everquest IP in 2016.  And if they even mention EQN again, it will likely be used as hype to show buyer there is interest in a new Everquest online game.

chernabog
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chernabog

I'm having a ton of fun on the EQ2 PvE progression server. While that does not give DB money for new expansions, it does keep me subbed (and I would not otherwise be).    
I still think Landmark was a terrible idea from inception.   Fans wanted a GAME, not a quasi-game toolset.   It sucked resources from making an actual game into building a (moderately) user-friendly building tool.   But so what?  Players don't have building tools for EQ1 and EQ2 and the programmers still seem to know how to make buildings and terrain.  

Hell, even EQ1 with updated graphics would be freaking amazing at this point.

agemyth
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agemyth

siiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh
I'll be here. Waiting with tempered expectations, but waiting still.

TheDonDude
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TheDonDude

welovekah TheDonDude I agree.  I mean more of a "assuming EQN is still in the cards, they should say so" thing.

But EA would totally survive without EQN, agreed.

mrnastybutler
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mrnastybutler

I hope we will get some information for EQN.  Even if it's just to say it's not happening.

Satyros
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Satyros

What I foresee is this year being just like the last.
No news on EQN at all.
Slight modifications to Landmark. More of the same, just to keep those few players they still have.
Focus on H1Z1.
Expansions to EQ1&2.
And, maybe, some sort of mobile game. That's where the money is right now.

McSleaz
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McSleaz

Daybreak will die this year.

Akami
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Akami

Let's be realistic here, the lack of any communication about EQN's progress points to one thing.  The fact that they have either halted all progress on it, or simply canned it all together.  They can't actually acknowledge this though, as it would mean bad publicity, a drop in sub numbers in their other games due to a loss of faith in the company's future, and possible loss of stock values (if the are publicly traded).

So instead of admitting they have cancelled development, they just remain silent, as it's the only thing they can do from a business standpoint.  There is no other realistic explanation for their total lack of silence.  In the face of all the bad publicity they have been getting in the last 6 months, they would be extremely foolish not to at least confirm that they are still working on EQN, if that was the case.  As a simple confirmation would do wonders for the public faith in the company, and have the reverse effect of what I stated above, thus helping their overall portfolio, numbers, and in the end profit.

welovekah
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welovekah

TheDonDude I think the big difference here is that CIG only has one egg in their basket. They need to keep people interested in Star Citizen because it's their only project.

Daybreak inherited a large number of titles from SoE, and it would not be the end of the world for the company if they let one or two in-development projects slip off the table.  The fans would be devastated, sure but clearly Daybreak is not a company that cares about community relations, if it means they can trim some fat by cutting out EQN/Landmark and focusing on games that already exist. Especially when they're rapidly downsizing their development teams, it makes more sense financially to double down on supporting old titles rather than making new ones.  That's why you see so many old MMOs bounce around between holding companies on life support. It's way cheaper to run one than to actively develop one.

TheDonDude
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TheDonDude

I don't feel it would take that much time to do a quick write-up about EQN's progress, just to confirm that it's still being worked on.  CIG does a huge one every month.

karmamule
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karmamule

jackofrost This is almost exactly what I'm feeling too: I'd LOVE the article to be right, but am skeptical at the moment.  The most likely scenario I foresee is that, yes, there will be some form of playable demo/pre-alpha-version for EQN, but it'll be missing most if not all of the more exciting features (e.g. smart NPCs) and we'll get a fairly stereotypical game with the cool features coming "real soon now".

But, yeah, I have a fond spot in my heart for the whole EQ series of games and hope they prove me very wrong!

Wilhelm Arcturus
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Wilhelm Arcturus

There is definitely a gap in how things feel when one compares the "legacy" EverQuest franchise and what constitutes the future of the franchise.  Holly and her team have been working hard to keep fans engaged with old Norrath, in a way we haven't really seen for years. 
On the other hand the Landmark/EQN team, purported to be the biggest team at Daybreak, hasn't really come out of their corner very much.  I follow the whole batch on social media and they are very quiet for long stretches of time.

It is obviously easier to promote a live game that has events and new special rules servers and all that, but I was hoping that with the change of owners that we might see a bit more change in the culture of communication.  We still seem to be stuck with the old SOE habit of stoking up the fires of enthusiasm and then letting them die down to mere embers by failing to follow up on big announcements.

Bertille Althusser
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Bertille Althusser

I really can't say I'm too positive with the future of EQN at all.  Part of me feels like it's something that missed its window, but we'll just have to wait and see.

jackofrost
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jackofrost

"EQ Next will wow us with something; the world will see that it is still alive and kicking and has been chugging along steadily in development this whole time."

So optimistic... I doubt you're right (since I'm just a naturally cynical individual), but I really hope you are. 

EQ was my first MMO, so there will always be a soft spot in my heart (and rose colored glasses on my head) and I really want EQN... but through the months and months of silence, preceded by the months of nothing new, I've pretty much given up.

Tandor Shadewalker
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Tandor Shadewalker

Nice read, MJ, thanks. Nit-picking, but I think you mean "are" not "or" before "hot commodities" under "What I want to happen". That's just to prove that I read it, of course :)!

For myself, I have the same solitary item on my DBG wishlist that I had on every annual SOE wishlist before it - better communication, on their own websites and forums.

I shall continue to dip in and out of EQ2 through the year, but I think I'm about to cancel my 6 monthly sub as I don't see enough benefit in it.

I'm not entirely convinced that we shall see much news on EQN this year, but I'm quite clear that if we don't it can only mean that the project is effectively dead. Not even the worst communicators in the communication age could possibly go so long without saying something, surely?

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