EverQuesting: Welcome to the Daybreak family, LOTRO and DDO

Sometimes there's news that just makes you go, "Huh?" At times it happens because said information makes no sense whatsoever; other times it surprises you so thoroughly you have no words as you look around wondering where on earth it came from. Last week we got smacked with the latter. Turbine’s announcement that Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online were breaking off under a new independent studio wasn't so far-fetched, especially with Turbine's professed focus on turning into a mobile studio. I heard that and didn't really bat an eye, I just nodded my head and thought, sure, that makes sense. What was a jaw-dropping surprise was the announcement that Daybreak would be the new publisher. Who ever would have envisioned Norrath and Middle-earth (and Eberron!) becoming family, romping together in the same backyard and sharing a swingset? You never thought they would actually meet. No, we certainly didn't see that coming.

But once I had a moment to digest the news and think about it (and after we finished with a few jokes, like Justin's query on whether we should combine our columns to make EverLording), it made sense. And I can see it as a good thing for both parties. (Talking about the pairing of companies, not the columns!) Standing Stone Games and Daybreak both stand to benefit here, meaning their games benefit. Thankfully I don't see any cross-pollination between the IPs, but I do see two studios growing and see two games continuing on instead of being shut down.

Lord of the Rings OnlineIt's good for Daybreak

Quite frankly, Daybreak needs a win. It needs to engender goodwill again. And it needs to expand. This move can accomplish all three of those.

Despite what many naysayers trumpet and what some fans fear, Daybreak isn't dead in the water. It may not be riding the crest of the wave that SOE was, but it isn't crawling into Davy Jones' locker, either. However, in business if you aren't growing, you are dying. You know that Daybreak needs to expand -- the question is how that would happen. It certainly doesn't appear to be forthcoming from a development standpoint. EverQuest Next was the big flagship MMO that was taking the company into the future, and it is gone. That doesn't leave much to sail into the future with; the tugboat of an unnamed mobile title isn't going to pull things far. And since a significant portion of the studio's titles live on only in memory (or emulators), that's not much left to work with. So if producing a game is out, what does that leave? Publishing other games. And going with LOTRO and DDO is a smart move.

VanguardHow can this be a win? Not only does the studio expand, but it does so with established games with popular IPs. After the loss of the studio's biggest project and little appearing on the horizon, things did look bleaker for the company. By publishing games, Daybreak adds to its roster -- and infuses revenue and stability into the company, which benefits its established titles like EverQuest, EverQuest II, and DC Universe Online! -- without having to pour out all the capital for development on something that may or may not take off. There isn't the level of monetary commitment nor the risk of flopping that comes with developing from scratch. Both LOTRO and DDO are established games with a known track record. Both have an established fan base. It also introduces more people to Daybreak who haven't looked at the studio before. Now, Daybreak just needs to make sure it doesn't do anything to alienate this new crowd!

VanguardThere is no denying that Daybreak is operating under a pretty thick (and deserved) cloud of negative perception. Scrapping much-anticipated games, shuttering others -- folks are understandably apt to harbor disappointment and distrust over things like that. Looking at how many games have closed, you can see why some call the studio They Break Games. However, that is a narrow view of the whole situation that leaves out other facts; some folks seem to have forgotten that as SOE, Daybreak was once known and beloved for keeping games alive. Vanguard is a prime example. If SOE hadn't stepped in, that game would have never seen the light of day let alone offer years of enjoyment to players. It also brought new ideas and systems to the MMOverse. Vanguard introduced decorating on the z axis (which SOE incorporated into its other games), brotherhoods, and working boats that were also living spaces to name a few. To this day I still think Vanguard had the best classes anywhere. Yes, it did eventually shut down, but Vanguard had a much fuller life than it ever would have otherwise, and the MMO landscape is better for it. I am grateful for the time I had in it.

As disappointing as the closing of Free Realms was to all its players, all indications are that the game ran at a loss for such a long time. Daybreak kept it going. Yes, it reached a time when it really was no longer feasible. Watching so many games shutter at once did feel like some doom and gloom, but in retrospect we can better see why it happened as SOE itself was shuttered. But the fact remains that the game remained operating for a long time -- that wouldn't have happened under another studio. And isn't seeing LOTRO and DDO remaining in operation exactly what the fans want? Daybreak is the studio for that.

Dungeons & Dragons OnlineIt's good for LOTRO and DDO

The new partnership isn't one-sided in its benefits; Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online are getting something out of this deal. For one, the games are sticking around! Many LOTRO fans have been on edge for years worrying about the fate of their beloved game. And poor DDO: It has a dedicated playerbase, but do we hear much about it lately? With Turbine's obvious shift away from MMOs, the games' fates looked even more tenuous. However, with Daybreak stepping into the picture, both games have a rosier and more secure future.

Consider the fact that without the Turbine name, the new studio as little clout in the business world.  No one knows Standing Stone Games; it isn't recognizable. Indie studios, even when built with established devs, generally have a tougher time in the market. Name recognition and contacts really do mean quite a bit. With Daybreak as the publisher, Standing Stone has instant established connections. What if devs want to take the game into another market? I am not saying they do, or have any thought on the matter, but Daybreak does have experience publishing in different markets. Those connections can be invaluable.

Lord of the Rings OnlineThe partnership with Daybreak also expands the skill resource pool. The devs that broke off into Standing Stone are devs who develop the game. That is awesome news for continued development! But how many of them are big on marketing? How many are experienced in PR? The chances of a small indie studio being able to fill all the necessary roles to develop and market the games successfully are pretty slim. And face it, many indies fail precisely because of lack of marketing. Daybreak brings that experience to the mix, allowing the devs to focus on the development part that they are good at. This is a good thing. Don't worry so much about Daybreak altering the core substance of these games; as publisher, Daybreak most likely has little say in the development side of things. The pairing just lets LOTRO and DDO keep on keeping on with its own devs while taking advantage of the bigger studio's name recognition and connections. Sounds pretty win/win to me.

Can Daybreak help the games -- especially DDO -- be more visible in the market? I believe so. DDO was barely on my radar for so long I couldn't even recover my original account. Yet when I went back into the game, I really enjoyed myself. That title seems like a likely candidate to be shuttered. If Daybreak can bring the game back into the minds of gamers and entice them to give it another try, it would be a pretty great thing. I am hoping the bigger studio does just that. And that's definitely a win.

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31 comments
se7engames
se7engames

Great article MJ! this is the first time I've heard of Daybreak becoming publisher for DDO and LOTRO since the holidays. Great news! And Justin... perfect name! Looking forward to more Everlording news in the future!

Jack Pipsam
Jack Pipsam

To be honest I really am not quite sure what Daybreak's role is actually meant to be.

The way it sounds it's Standing Stone who renewed the IPs, not Daybreak. The severs and accounts are going to be the same as before, so presumably Daybreak's All Access stuff isn't going to come into play and being the age of the games I somehow doubt Daybreak is going to start printing boxes of these games or do any marketing (they don't even market Planetside 2 anymore).
Daybreak themselves haven't said anything about the games, it's not on their website, their logo isn't on the start of the games like Warner Brother's was and I doubt the Daybreak launcher is suddenly going to appear for the games.

So I am still unclear what exactly Daybreak is meant to be doing for the games. You say connections, but connections for what? Does Standing Stone need connections for LotRO and DDO?

Seems to me Daybreak might be hoping for some long term plan from all this if Standing Stone makes a new game which they can integrate with.

salidar
salidar

@schlag sweetleaf Yeah it's funny but really getting old. Maybe you could try not being negative towards Daybreak for once.

Damonvile
Damonvile

@BritoBruno @salidar @schlag sweetleaf It's kind of funny that with all the actual negative comments trashing the company a picture of jack with daybreak eyes draws that response.


I guess the answer to it is.... why doesn't daybreak do something to fix it's image first.

Reihen
Reihen

@salidar Outside of this swaying one way or the other, has Daybreak done anything positive?

FunkyCold
FunkyCold

I played DDO from launch until about 5 years ago and then quit after epic levels.... But I still crave the combat.  Tried to log in last year on my sorc and was so bad I just turned it off.  I genuinely wish I hadn't stopped but don't have the time now to learn it all again and grind optimal gear :(


I feel the game is so much better than history will remember it but I have rose tinted goggles.

Ramon Martinez
Ramon Martinez

You keep giving daybreak credit for keeping games we loved alive, like vanguard and free realms. That was SOE, not Daybreak. SOE was the company that allowed EQ next to cycle through god knows how many iterations and take a stab and so many pie-in-the-sky concepts. Daybreak shut that down right quick. Different businesses. No doubt that part of why SOE was split off and sold was because of its tendency to nurture money pits. And we loved them for that. But daybreak does NOT deserve the credit for something SOE did. I might be a bit sore about it, but I'd rather watch daybreak close and my favorite games ever evaporate into the emulated server ether than see them make a profit closing and watering down things I grew up with and loved.

strangesands
strangesands

Isn't Daybreak only the distributor for Standing Stone?  I wouldn't think that would count as being part of the Daybreak "family."  EA distributed TSW, but it has zero to do with the development of the game.

Wilhelm Arcturus
Wilhelm Arcturus

Can I get LOTRO with EQ housing (which is EQII housing done as neighborhoods) and the EQII launcher please, all on Daybreak Access with an order of Daybreak Cash on the side... all without screwing up my lifetime account?

MJ Guthrie
MJ Guthrie moderator

@Wilhelm Arcturus Yah, I think I have begged for EQII housing/decorating sooooo much I probably ask for it in my sleep!

bronzdragon
bronzdragon

LoTRO and DDO would definitely add more value to the All Access Pass, which I've subscribed to off and on over the years.


Telos_
Telos_

I wouldn't consider it being part of a family.  Daybreak is only the publisher.  It's sort of like NCSoft, which publishes other titles from independent companies.

Damonvile
Damonvile

If you look at daybreaks older games they're all stable and get regular content. There's no reason to think this wont keep happening for lotro and ddo. 


It's daybreaks new titles that are a joke.

melissaheather
melissaheather

I had to Accept a Daybreak TOS with the new LOTRO patch.   Just a publisher...  =\

shadowblender
shadowblender

'' Welcome to daybreak family..''


Yeah, welcome to the dark side, we got cookies.

rottenrotny
rottenrotny

All I'm getting from this is that both of these games are now doomed and won't be around much longer.

Sorry, but I have absolutely no faith in daybreak.

:-P

Tandor Shadewalker
Tandor Shadewalker

@rottenrotny Given that they are not developing the game or hosting the servers it's difficult to see what exactly they are doing as "publishers" and how any failure to do that could impact on the game. Personally I'd be more concerned if I had absolutely no faith in Standing Stone Games. As it is, however, I have a lot more faith in them as an independent company than I ever had in them as a subsidiary of Warner Bros in general and their accountants in particular.

Tandor Shadewalker
Tandor Shadewalker

@rottenrotny @Tandor Shadewalker I don't know about the other existing games, but in what way have they ruined EQ and EQ2? I haven't noticed any real changes since SOE morphed into DBG.  I've played those games since 1998 and 2004 respectively and my goodness SOE managed to make enough of a mess of things like Ubisoft and PSS1's involvement in them. DBG have kept them running with regular expansions and legacy servers etc, and haven't dropped any major clangers that I've noticed.

ColdinT
ColdinT

I'm almost positive that between LOTRO and DDO that DDO earns more revenue. It has a really loyal player base, and can make loads off whales who don't have any problem jumping on the TR treadmill and then buying Otto boxes to speed up the leveling.

donweel
donweel

You are probably right. It is all to easy to jump into the store for last minute spell components, hirelings or that Rez Cake for one more try.

donweel
donweel

Good article. I mostly agree. I also feel really good about the move to standing stones. I don't think WB was a good fit for the people at Turbine, I always thought they looked awkward in those WB logo shirts. This puts the staff back to where they where when Turbine was independent and inovative. I hope they bring stuff like MyDDO back I miss those days. I also agree on Vanguard so much missed potential, unfortunatly it crushed my computer and ran very badly. I think most people leave DDO for a while but it is always there for you and great fun to rediscover once again.

Cheers

Tandor Shadewalker
Tandor Shadewalker

 " To this day I still think Vanguard had the best classes anywhere."


I agree!


"And poor DDO: It has a dedicated playerbase, but do we hear much about it lately? "


No we don't, and that includes here on MOP. Why not send a sympathetic writer to play it and report back on it?


"Now, Daybreak just needs to make sure it doesn’t do anything to alienate this new crowd!"


Please, gaming gods, not the European players again!

donweel
donweel

MJ did a Haloween livestream in DDO Night Revels not too long ago but more would be welcome. I think that as a returning player things can be a little confusing because updates can cause new complications to builds. The addition of Physical Resitance Rating, and Magical Resistance Rating changed things a lot. Sometimes the easiest thing is to start a new character and play till things feel comfortable.

MJ Guthrie
MJ Guthrie moderator

@donweel I DO plan on doing more, but it has to wait until after the holidays. There is a group who doesn't seem to mind helping me through stuff once in a while to show things off, so expect to see more DDO =D (I wasn't kidding when I said I had to make a brand new account though -- my one from launch is totally lost and was never recoverable, which is the main reason I hadn't been back in years.)

Malice
Malice

your optimism is refreshing had Turbine not done such a bad job with LOTRO once it went F2P I might still be playing *shrug* I hope all involved still get to enjoy the game, and still make a decent living producing it.