EverQuesting: Columbus Nova or not, Daybreak is tying its own noose

How about those Red Sox? Seriously, that’s a conversation I’d rather be having than the one that has cropped up this week — and I don’t even follow the Red Sox. Instead, we’ve got the Columbus Nova fiasco and Daybreak’s disasterous response. I feel as if I am witnessing my favorite game studio hang itself.

As I sit here watching as this story all unfolds, I almost wonder if I’ve stumbled into some crazy movie plot or scripted prank show. Is this seriously happening? It doesn’t seem real, and yet here we are; I’m right with you, following each new step in the saga as it happens. Sadly, in this narrative there are no winners, only losers. The studio, the developers, the players, the industry — we’re all losers. No matter how this ultimately turns out, much damage has been done. The hopes that my favorite game will continue are crashing and burning alongside the last vestiges of trust I had in my favorite studio. How did it come to this? These are my thoughts and feelings as a long-time fan on the matter, basically my WTF reaction to it all.

The odds are not in your favor

Of all people, I am known as one to give the benefit of the doubt. It’s in my nature to assume the best of folks. It can take quite a bit of some pretty blatant evidence to sway me. This whole thing that’s playing out now? I’m feeling pretty swayed. My jaw is on the floor. I simply cannot believe it is actually happening. And yet, it is. For those not following the big story, in a nutshell it’s the fact that the parent company (Renova Group) of Daybreak’s parent company (Columbus Nova) is in trouble. That’s not the problem; Daybreak’s reaction to that threat is what is causing all the trouble.

Daybreak’s answer to this risk is to inform us that the assertion that Columbus Nova acquired then-SOE was a miscommunication. Instead it was a private individual (who just happens to me a major employee of said company) who bought the studio. A miscommunication? Seriously? If it were true that citing Columbus Nova as the owner was a miscommunication, it was a miscommunication that was perpetually asserted for more than three years, over and over again by multiple sources. I was there. I know very well — often first-hand — what employees, from the top on down, said. I received the press releases very clearly stating that Columbus Nova was the owner. It was Columbus Nova this, and Columbus Nova that; here a Columbus Nova, there a Columbus Nova, everywhere Columbus Novas.

Still, let’s try the benefit of the doubt thing. Is it possible that Columbus Nova didn’t really own Daybreak? OK, almost anything is possible. Even a .000000000001% chance is a chance. But is it probable? Does not seem likely, does it? Daybreak PR is asking the world to believe that every press release and every quote from Daybreak and Columbus Nova employees alike for the last three plus years were in error. Again, that’s over three years. Certainly that was plenty of time to clear up a misunderstanding. Those items are only just now being corrected, coincidentally exactly after the sanctions were threatened. If it was in error, you couldn’t have picked a worse time to try and fix it!

However, it goes beyond just PR and interviews. Setting those aside, what about the terms of service that all players had to agree to? Am I being asked to believe that this ToS passed legal muster with an incorrect company name attached? Wouldn’t a lawyer have pounced on such a mistake and insisted it be corrected to save from possible future litigation? And what about misuse of logos? How on earth could all that get past everyone?

This is what Daybreak wants us to believe. It’s just a whoopsie. MOP has even heard from a reliable source that this is the case. But honestly, at this point how can we believe it? I’m having a really hard time. That big of a miscommunication could not have been overlooked for over three years. No way. That’s some seriously gross incompetence (which doesn’t look all that favorable for the studio, either). Were we intentionally misled? If Columbus Nova was never the owner, the two companies said and did quite a bit to make everyone believe it was. Was that a lie? Was being attached to that name meant to engender more confidence and trust? (Obviously that totally backfired.) Or is the narrative now a lie? It feels like we have to pick: Either Daybreak lied then, or it is lying now. Not exactly a great choice.

Speaking of, what about those layoffs? That is quite a chunk of staff to suddenly be let go. Daybreak wants us to believe it is telling the truth, but in the same breath says that these layoffs won’t affect the games or operations. Oh come now, there is no way losing that many isn’t going to impact things! Daybreak, you are making this harder.

Talk about the past haunting you

Undoubtedly, Daybreak is trying to distance itself from Columbus Nova in order to protect itself and remain in operation. I can’t fault that. After all, I want EverQuest II to continue more than most. But how the studio is going about that goal just flabbergasts me. Who in heaven’s name advised Daybreak that trying to quietly scrub all connection with Columbus Nova was a good idea? Do these people know how the internet works? Don’t they understand that stuff on the internet can’t just be erased? Abundant copies of all these items exist. Even if the claim that Columbus Nova didn’t own Daybreak is true, the purge looks as unscrupulous and shady as all get out. Surely there was a way to do this without looking like the studio was sneaking around in the dark hoping no one would notice? And if it was owned by Columbus Nova, systematically rewriting history is the epitome of dishonest. How could anyone have trust in the studio after that?

If I thought things were iffy before, I am more resigned about the fates of EQII and Daybreak now. I can’t really see any positive way to come out of this. If the games go down because assets get frozen, we lose them. We’ll be saying farewell to EverQuest, EQIIDC Universe Online, PlanetSide 2H1Z1, and Just Survive. That would royally suck. On the other hand, even if the games survive, how Daybreak has dealt with this situation has given it some serious black eyes. Trust is pretty shattered. Even if the studio isn’t tied to Columbus Nova, its integrity seems even more questionable as demonstrated by its recent actions. And worse, if Daybreak was tied to CN but pulls off erasing its association through all these suspiciously shady shenanigans, we know the studio is willing to force a historical rewrite when it suits its interest. That means it could easily pull that again when it needed to, to the detriment of anyone.

This whole thing breaks my heart. Do I want these games to survive? You better believe it! EQII is a home away from home, a comfort game for me that I never want to lose. Ever! But I want the studio to do it in an above board, ethical way. The way things are going now, it appears to be anything but. And I can’t even describe how much that truly disappoints and saddens me. I want to believe the best, but it feels like this week is doing everything to convince me otherwise. If CN owned the studio, why didn’t it avoid all of this by just selling off/trading/giving Daybreak new ownership legitimately by the June 5th deadline noted in the sanction? What ever could Daybreak gain by this course of action — by alienating fans, by appearing completely dishonest and unscrupulous, and by possibly risking legal action — that made this path more appealing than other possibilities? Even if the games don’t shut down, how can Daybreak recover from this?

I don’t get it. I am watching what has been my favorite studio carefully tie a noose for itself. No matter which way it goes, damage is done. I am stunned. And I am crushed. There are no winners here.

The EverQuest franchise is a vast realm, and sometimes MJ Guthrie gets lost in it all! Join her as she explores all the nooks and crannies from Antonica to Zek. Running biweekly on Thursdays, EverQuesting is your resource for all things EverQuest, EverQuest II, and Daybreak. And keep an eye out for MJ’s OPTV adventures!

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78 Comments on "EverQuesting: Columbus Nova or not, Daybreak is tying its own noose"

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Edene

New York Times is reporting the story too.. naming Columbus Nova

VentyRed
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VentyRed

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators have questioned a Russian oligarch about hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments his company’s US affiliate made to President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, after the election, according to a source familiar with the matter.

FBI agents asked Vekselberg about payments his company’s American affiliate, Columbus Nova, made to Cohen, according to one source.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/08/politics/robert-mueller-russian-oligarch-payments-michael-cohen/index.html

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Adam Russell

Playing devil’s advocate:
Is it possible that it was a ‘miscommunication’?
Is it possible that the miscommunication was a fib based on the fact that they didnt want to say “some guy bought us”? Yea thats possible. And if true, that means that even if they were lying in press releases, they could still be in the clear financially.

amkosh
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amkosh

Irregardless, I don’t think the FBI or DoJ would buy that, not without substantial proof. Fortunately or Unfortunately, the DBG sale is recent enough that no one should have purged the sale documents yet. SIE, a unit of Sony, should have sales documentation.

I highly doubt DoJ or the FBI will trust any of the player’s documents because they have altered docs. Had these guys just put out a single press release saying “Yeah, we done fucked up and misrepresented ourselves over the last X years. ” without modifying the old docs, they probably would have been fine. But no, they had to doctor docs. That at the very least is Obstruction of Justice, and if its true CN had done any money laundering, Racketeering.

This should be an interesting thing to follow.

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Adam Russell

IANAL, but I think when you sell a corporation there is documentation filed with the government. Hell even my house has documentation filed with the county. You cant sell it without filing an ownership transfer with both party’s signature. That document is the controlling document, and no one can just alter it.

gylnne
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gylnne

Nice article MJ.

I recently started playing EQ2 again and this type of behavior saddens me also. For some folks Daybreak Games from the start had no honor, now it seems what ever is left has been shredded also.

But I am going to be positive about this and believe if the EQ franchise is put up for sale someone who loves the history will purchase it.

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Neurotic

Whilst the whole thing is hugely unfortunate, and I resent the entire universe for endangering my favourite MMORPGs ever (EQ etc), at this point I really don’t care how they do it, as long as they keep doing it. My feelings are not hurt, and my trust and confidence in the publishers and bill-payers is not that much worse than it was before. About the dev team and the CMs, I have and have had, only sympathy and support. Honestly, let’s just get the games safe and secure and jump the rest of the gates as we come to them. And please remember everyone, the coders and artists and so on are not to blame here, it’s ‘the suits’ at the top you should reserve your ire for.

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mysecretid

The only Daybreak game I’ve played since they took over was DC Universe Online, occasionally, on my PS4.

I just “had a bad feeling”, personally, about Daybreak as a company, and I didn’t want to play any games which would require me giving them my credit card information directly.

Call me foolish, as you prefer, but I tend to trust my instincts.

While I used to LOVE EverQuest II, I was ready for an update, and when EverQuest Next got cancelled, it kinda broke my heart.

I haven’t been able to go back to EverQuest II since.

My take, anyway,

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jrox

Don’t care about these fools! Just open it up and sell me the emulator or server files. Maybe someone on the inside will smuggle something out one day! /snicker

Kheldar
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Kheldar

@MJ Guthrie Thank you for this first of all.

Secondly, I know you are a huge EQ2 fan, as am I, and several friends of mine, (though most have left over the last two expansions), and I am wondering how you feel about the outright post deletions and bannings on the official forums, as well as the bannings on the Discord channel? Do you think that a company should at the very most just lock threads they disagree with, after posting why? or is outright deletion/banning okay?

And third, I’m sorry to say, that I have pulled all of my credit card info from all of my DBG accounts, and have cancelled all subs. That unfortunately includes several friends, who because of their financial situations, were under my CC. In all, it was 11 accounts. I actually have a hard time even bothering to log in anymore, since I hate only having boring instances to run, and the ridiculous melding of tradeskilling and adventuring that was introduced (long after the release) of PoP. PoP killed EQ2 for me, and the absolute, blatant lies from the company are just too much to take for something that was supposed to be fun in my free time.

I’ve been in EQ1 since launch, and EQ2 since launch. Sad to say, I doubt they will miss me, or even look over my exit polls (x 11).

Edit to add:
DBG will NOT let me delete my last payment source, so I just scrambled the info on it to hopefully make it impossible to process.
Edit again:
Okay, I can finally delete it, forgot that I still had my all-access going.

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Denice J. Cook

I suspect all the thread deletions are going on because the powers that be are of course afraid that players will see the threads, get skittish and cancel their subs. That wouldn’t look too hot in the midst of any sort of impending buyout, now would it!

I haven’t been banned off the EQ2 forums nor Discord nor have I seen anyone else banned so I can’t comment about that. However, I’ve definitely started a couple threads in both places about this issue, and have participated in a few more of them in both places, too. I’ve also watched those threads get deleted, on the EQ2 forums anyway, but I can’t say I blame Daybreak. The saddest thing is that Dexella, the forum mod, lost her job, and whomever is ham-fistedly attempting to take her place isn’t properly deleting threads. You can’t read the posts, but their titles kinda say it all and they’re still hanging around in General, lol.

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Bruno Brito

Honestly? I don’t. I won’t give the benefit of the doubt to this jack shit company, and i want EQ2 to die. Not because it’s a bad game, but exactly because it’s a great one. DBG doesn’t deserve EQ2. They didn’t treat the franchise with the ultmost respect it deserves.

At least let it go graciously, but that ship has sailed. It’ll go down in the midst of corruption and suits running with money in their underpants.

EQ2 deserved way more than that. Hope someone buy it or make a pserver of it. I don’t care which.

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Nick

I still wish I quit before they went DBG and the AoM summer ethereal event signaled the beginning of the end when it comes to any sort of mechanics making sense. AoM wasn’t the greatest but it also seemed like things were headed in the right direction, the beginning of an ‘up swing.’ That is until they laid off some smart people and it started free falling.

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Bruno Brito

Not a EQ veteran in the slightest, and i wish the game had held me down, but it didn’t. Honestly, i kinda hope for a Massively revival of the game, some people grouping up without much concern for stuff ( 15 years of content, why would i care about endgame ), but for now, i’m ok to let go.

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Suikoden

This whole thing reminds me of everything that was going on last summer/fall with Gazillion. All these weird things were happening, in and out of the game, surrounding Marvel Heroes and Gazillion. Yet they kept saying everything was fine, right up until their dying breath. I can see the signs of the same thing happening here. DCUO isn’t getting a dime from me until I am convinced otherwise.