Obviously, the reverberations of the news of Landmark's closure continue to be seen across the MMO community, including in our own comments sections. The MMO blogosphere was alight with discussion and opinions about this event, with many using this as an opportunity to get in a last word about the lamentable EverQuest Next.
In today's special edition of Global Chat, we'll take a survey of gaming blogs to see what they have to say about the Landmark sunset and what it means for Daybreak, MMOs, and the community it affects.
In February 2015, following the SOE/Daybreak transition and ensuing mass layoffs, we polled our readers on the security of the rest of the studio's games. Almost half of you voted that Dragon's Prophet was the studio's most vulnerable remaining game, with almost 20% pointing to EverQuest Next. And you were right; SOE's North American-run Dragon's Prophet was gone within the year, with EverQuest Next to follow just a few months later.
And now Landmark's headed off into the sunset.
The thing is, Daybreak doesn't really have much left. The company that once won "best studio" four years in a row and had a much-deserved reputation for keeping beloved MMORPGs going is now down to four MMORPGs, plus H1Z1 A and B, and one unannounced game, plus the games it's publishing for Standing Stone. Yesterday we counted up the casualties and found Daybreak has now shut down approximately 16 games, most of them in the last few years -- more than most studios will ever launch.
Let's break out the poll for a revisit, two years on. Which Daybreak MMO do you think is most vulnerable now?
Former Landmark lead Dave Georgeson took to Twitter on Friday with a note of encouragement for fans of the soon-to-be shuttered MMO: "To those reading about the [Landmark] shutdown. Your dreams aren't dying, only this vehicle for them. Stay in touch with each other. Friends > game."
Georgeson was let go from Daybreak as part of the transition from SOE in February 2015. In an interview last spring, he said that if he had remained at the helm of the studio's next-gen MMOs, he would have delivered EverQuest Next "to vision."
Landmark will close its doors on February 21st.
Last night's startling news that Daybreak plans to sunset Landmark abruptly in February (while forbidding player emulators) sent the MMORPG community into... I'll call it "resigned and weary outrage." At Massively OP, we just spent the last month reliving last year's EverQuest Next cancellation thanks to the fact that it "won" so many awards -- Biggest Disappointment and Biggest Story, the reader vote for Biggest Blunder -- and was our most-commented-on article of the year. Landmark's sunset is sadly just a capstone to a year already dominated by Daybreak's decisions.
(The bummer is Landmark also narrowly took our serious award for Best Crafting, which it probably deserved, but most MMO gamers will never get to try it to understand why.)
Our comments last night were filled with concern for Daybreak's remaining games. We counted around 14 games canceled, most of them in the last few years, with DC Universe Online, PlanetSide 2, EverQuest, EverQuest II, and the two H1Z1 halves being the only games left under the DBG banner (plus the mystery game they've been hiring for -- and it's now publishing Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online but doesn't actually own or develop them, so they're probably safe). Do you think Landmark was the last remnant of a bad business decision finally getting cleaned up, or are you concerned for Daybreak's other MMORPGs?
Sad news for fans of Landmark who were happy to see it have its own life after the closure of EverQuest Next; Daybreak has announced that the Landmark servers will be shutting down on February 21st of this year. The game only formally launched in June of 2016 after a prolonged testing period, so it didn't even quite make it to a full year of operation.
The FAQ accompanying the shutdown also torpedoes any hopes players might have regarding private servers, as Daybreak will not be releasing the source code or reimbursing players who have purchased Daybreak Cash for use with the title. The game's site and forums will also be shuttered along with the game, so if you want to keep in touch with friends afterward, make sure to get contact information sooner rather than later. It's a sad day for the last part of a project, and our condolences go out to fans and staff members affected by the sudden and unexpected shutdown.
If you thought we lost a lot of MMOs in 2014 and 2015, wait until you see 2016's list.
It's easy to shrug off some of these, like the non-MMORPGs, the games shutting down in far-flung countries, or even Hellgate, which sunsets and revives at least a dozen times a year now.
But others sting. Asheron's Call, due to sunset in January, is probably the smallest MMORPG on the list, but it casts a mighty shadow over the genre and will be deeply missed by veterans. The cancellations of EverQuest Next and Revival still stings. PlanetSide had a long and storied run, while DUST 514 may yet live again. And our youngins will now miss out on introductory games like Super Hero Squad Online and LEGO Minifigures.
Farewell, old friends.
Last week, we posted a rundown of the most popular MMORPG articles of 2016, calculated strictly by the number of pageviews they got. Today, we're going to take a look at the most popular articles of 2016 as measured by comments, which provides an entirely different overview of the year and the genre. The other list was stuff you clicked on, but this? This is the stuff you cared enough about to comment on -- and boy did you ever.
The number of games our wee little Stream Team covers in the span of a year is staggering. If you ever wanted to know what an MMORPG looks like and how it plays before you shell out money or download a mega-client, the Stream Team is your best bet.
We’ve put together some of our favorite streams from the year, from launches to first-looks and beta deep-dives and even a series of SMITE charity streams we did with the help of our viewers. Enjoy!
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
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.
This year, we’re taking a time-machine back through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we head into 2017.
March was pretty much the worst month of the entire year, and March 11th was a particularly bad day: It was the day that EverQuest Next was canceled, WildStar was slammed with layoffs, Colin Johanson announced he was leaving the Guild Wars 2 team, and Zahrym left the WoW team. Our Week in Review summary that week is just called "Sadface." In retrospect, I can see why MMORPG players were shaken to the core. I'm so sorry if March 11th was your birthday.
The rest of March wasn't much better; Revival was more or less canceled, there was that whole Ghillie suit thing, and Guild Wars 2 ended development of legendary weapons.
March was also the month a dev team coined "shitstorm matrix," so there was that.
Read on for the curated list of our favorite posts from the month of doom.
One of my favorite things to do every year is break down the top articles on the site for our readers. You might think you already know what the biggest stories are because the comment count ran wild or it was super controversial -- or even because you saw our biggest stories award or read our biggest stories listicle. But in reality, the single posts that actually accrue the most hits aren't necessarily the ones you'd think, and they're not even entirely predictable to us. A well-timed link from a major website -- Reddit, Fark, or a game dev -- can elevate an entire month. (That's why we're so grateful when our fans share our work across social networks!)
A few caveats before we dive in: I've eliminated a couple of posts from 2015 that still continue to do well in 2016 (that's no fun). I've also eliminated contests (Paladins, Black Desert, SMITE, and TERA had the most popular giveaways this year, but again, they're sort of cheating since they aren't real content -- they're just free stuff). And do remember that the list favors posts made early in the year, so you'll seldom see big articles from December on a list like this (they haven't had as much time to circulate).
Massively Overpowered's end-of-the-year 2016 awards continue today with our award for the Biggest MMORPG Disappointment of 2016, which was awarded in 2015 to World of Warcraft's setbacks: Blizzard's massive sub slide and content drought. Hey, at least it won't go two in a row!
Disappointments can be games, launches, patches, trends, stories, sunsets, all manner of topics in the MMORPG genre and orbiting sub-genres. All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end.
The Massively OP staff pick for Biggest MMORPG Disappointment of 2016 is...
Massively Overpowered's end-of-the-year 2016 awards continue today with our award for Biggest MMORPG Industry Blunder of 2016. Last year, we called the Star Citizen melodrama the biggest blunder of the year, as we criticized the poor behavior of certain players, developers, and press regarding the sci-fi game. This isn’t an award we particularly enjoy giving, but I think it’s a fitting complement to praising trends and big stories: We must consider the mistakes of the year so we don’t make them again.
All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll
The Massively OP staff pick for Biggest MMORPG Industry Blunder of 2016 is...