EverQuesting: Is EverQuest Next in trouble?

    
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You know me: I’ve been quite the supporter of EverQuest Next and Landmark for a good long while. Even before writing about EQN these past few years, I was following its development, and I got to be one of the first ever to find out about and actually get my hands on Landmark. I’ve been at the SOE Live reveals, I’ve talked with the devs on numerous occasions, and I’ve seen their great passion and dedication to the games — and I’ve been relaying all that info to you. It’s no secret that I believe in this franchise. So when I say that all these recent developments give me pause, you can understand the gravity of my feelings. I certainly don’t make this statement lightly.

Is EverQuest Next in trouble? I think it is. At the same time, cries of doom and gloom are unwarranted.

I am not heralding doom

Before we get into this discussion, let me make it perfectly clear that being in trouble does not automatically mean that EQN and/or Landmark are doomed. The words simply do not mean the same thing. “Doomed” means that failure and crashing and burning are inevitable. It elicits cries of “abandon ship!” as folks leap away to avoid the burning wreckage. “In trouble,” on the other hand, simply means the risk of doom is more likely than it once was. And I do think the game is in trouble. In my mind the odds of things going horribly wrong have escalated thanks to recent events, making that possibility a little too uncomfortably real to me.

Do I think there is still a possibility of the games turning out wonderfully? Yes. But the chances of that not happening can’t be ignored. My enthusiasm is scaled back just a bit. I am still hopeful (and there is good reason to be so!), but I’m also a bit more wary.

Shaken confidence

Bad stuff happens in game development. We know that and even expect it. So what makes the last few weeks so confidence-shaking when compared to before? It’s not as if there weren’t issues and setbacks prior to February 2nd’s SOE buyout announcement. It’s the sheer volume and magnitude of events that make me worried; not only are they big blows, but they came so close together. Fans have every reason to be concerned!

First we had the buyout announcement. Of course that is going to put people on edge; we know what buyouts can do. They can cannibalize, parcel out, and just plain destroy the company as we knew it. New bosses are in control with their own vision, one we are not familiar with. It makes perfect sense that the new company does not garner the same amount of trust the old one had because of the new folks running the show. Unfamiliarity breeds trepidation. Only time to build a track record can truly calm those fears, though Daybreak Games did try by assuring us nothing was changing. So those first fears were allayed a bit as we put our trust in the people we knew instead of the big new unknown overlords. And how did that turn out?

Layoffs. Shortly after the surprise punch to the gut that was the end of our loved-and-loved-to-hate company, we lost some of the great folks that have been a part of making the games a reality. No matter how you slice it, this was a huge blow. Right after asking us to trust that everything would work out fine, many of the very folks we trusted to bring EQN and Landmark to us were booted out the door. It was a double hit on the trust meter: Not only was that initial promise broken, but we lost awesome individuals who had earned our trust and support. I am talking the loss of people whose sheer enthusiasm and palpable love for the game carried us along on the hype train. They believed it was worth it, so we did too. I am well aware that many awesome people still remain on the project (that’s where my hope comes in), but the fact remains that subtracting awesome from awesome still leaves us with less awesome.

Can it get worse? Oh yes, it can. The next big kick to consumer confidence was the announcement that Storybricks was no longer partnered on the project. This revolutionary AI was one of — if not the — biggest factor in setting this game up as the next big thing. We’ve been champing at the bit for such a marvelous feature, and it alone had many folks eyeing EQN. Even those who didn’t feel Landmark was for them watched in interest as this ability to script AI might very well bring them into the game to try it out. I know the devs have assured us that all the previous work is still there and will be continued in-house, but that doesn’t make me feel a whole lot better; it just looks like SOE cannibalized another group for its own interests and then discarded it, much as we fear we’re going to see with Daybreak’s new masters. That puts a sour taste in my mouth. The group needs more trust right now, not less. And going from collaborative partners to cannibals is definitely leaning toward less.

Here’s the kicker: The latest news is that EverQuest Next may not, in fact, be free-to-play. What’s so bad about that? SOE originally said it would be F2P. No matter how many times folks try to say otherwise, it was announced as a F2P game. I was sitting there right in the front of the audience when it was proclaimed that going forward all things were “Free-to-Play, Your Way.” And that definitely included EQN. I am not even a fan of F2P, so why does this switch bother me? Precisely because it is a switch. After so many other confidence-shaking things in quick succession, this just screams, “I know we told you one thing before, but now you just can’t trust it will be that way (or anything else we said!)” We’re not talking about a small change; we’re talking about the fundamental business model behind the game. Now, even something as benign as a welcome announcement will cast a longer shadow of doubt on the projects.

I can’t blame anyone for being on edge waiting for the next shoe to drop. We’ve had plenty drop already. With so much already happening, you have to wonder, what’s next? What or who is getting the axe, and when all is said and done, what — if anything — will be left of the game we were looking forward to? I commiserate with everyone who is apprehensive about EQN’s chances now.

Hope is in rebuilding trust

What Daybreak Games needs to do now (besides make a wonderful game) is restore its fans confidence. There were always those who were sitting on the fence and taking the wait-and-see attitude before; the problem is a large number of fans are in that same position now, too. Daybreak Games needs those fans back on its side. The studio needs folks anticipating EQN with bated breath. It needs the momentum of excited fans. And the only way it is going to get that is if it restores some of the lost confidence. Too many disruptions have eroded our trust, and the team needs to build it back up.

Here’s one way Daybreak could restore some lost confidence right now: release the AI scripting in Landmark. This feature was promised to come just after the first of the year, so it is already quite late. I understand why it is delayed, but the studio needs to give players some concrete assurance that plans are still moving forward. Is the decidedly intelligent artificial intelligence really still a part of the game? Show us! Put your development where your mouth is and give us proof that what you say is true. We want to believe, we really do. But Daybreak, you need to give us some positives to go on.

That first step will start the ball rolling. And it needs to come fast because the longer folks doubt Daybreak’s commitment, the less likely they’ll ever trust the studio again. Their eyes will drift elsewhere, with their wallets right behind. EQN has lost a good share of its momentum and a portion of its appeal. Let’s get it back! I still want to play the game I’ve been hearing and writing about all this time. So show me it isn’t lost. Show me I have reason to hope, to believe. Show me.

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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Nolte1981
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Nolte1981

Doe anyone know why Daybreak does not have an EQ2 tech support anymore I was just trying to understand why they would buy out the game and not have a tech support for eq2 online the only thing they have is support for the PS side of it I was recently trying to recover one of my old accounts which is over 8 yrs old and needed a lil help to recover it and cant get the support that i need they dont even have a customer support number to call like SoE that to me is very discomforting and really makes me and like 40 other people i know not want to play the game anymore feed back would be nice but they dont even answer support tickets in a timely fashion anymore Daybreak needs to tighten up there shit excuse the language but it is very true i dont think EQ is going to make it

syberghost
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syberghost

XiongLy I don’t think F2P means what you think it means. It virtually always makes more money than P2P for the games that convert, in North America.

XiongLy
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XiongLy

f2p don’t last long-  You need to charge people in order to make this game work-

Krighton_
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Krighton_

This game isn’t going to happen. There is a FILTH, at the CORE of
the MMO Genre and its taken away from the FUN, THE COMMUNITY, THE JOY,
THE ADVENTURE, THE PRIDE, THE QUALITY, THE IMAGINATION.. of the MMO
space.

It’s called Money. People want and need too much of it. 
GG.

Krighton_
Guest
Krighton_

This game isn’t going to happen. There is a FILTH, at the CORE of the MMO Genre and its taken away from the FUN, THE COMMUNITY, THE JOY, THE ADVENTURE, THE PRIDE, THE QUALITY, THE IMAGINATION.. of the MMO space.

It’s called Money. People want and need too much of it. 

GG.

JokerSF
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JokerSF

I love the EQ franchise but if they make it F2P, then I won’t ever play it.
F2P is not good for a couple reasons:
1) If you stick around long-term, you’ll end up spending far more money on the game than you would if you paid a sub.
2) This one is most important: The entire game and future content and all major decisions will revolve around how to make more money.  I’ve seen this time and time again.  Very few games are truly F2P, as they offer cosmetic things that you don’t have to have to play the game.  Path of Exiles is a good example.  In general F2P sucks for the player in the long run.

eldgrim
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eldgrim

Almost one year later, and many of these questions are still unanswered really.
There’s been -very-little- real news from EQN.   :( and some of us are still around hoping for the next big (and fun!) thing

dorjeoac
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dorjeoac

I hope it isn’t FTP, in my opinion ftp has ruined the MMO market. Game get cheesy  trying to comply with the masses of non mmo people that want easy games and superfluous features since WOW introduced FTP and other game companies were forced or believed they had to follow suit to comply has ruined most MMO. 

I for one would applaud EQN if they make it normal subscription and ditch the deceptive FTP. FTP often ends up costing way more than the traditional subscription or one time pay games..

  I really hope this game comes out lots of interesting concepts I am also gald that they are not rushing the release. I would rather have a fully functional game and wait for the time it needs to be released properly and thrive. Than an release that is not fully complete shutting it down before it gets a chance. We live in an impatient world we need to remember good things take time and are often worth the wait.

636rider
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636rider

What worries me the most is not so much, will EQN get made, it’s will EQN be made into what those of us that played Everquest want it to be. It was rumored to be based on that style instead of the watered down candy land MMORPG’s of today. I mean you could put Everquests name on WoW and it would still suck. We don’t want another kindergarten version of what some company thinks an MMORPG is suppose to be, we want Everquest. Releasing the original team scares me into thinking the new on the cheap crew will have no idea what Everquest even is or what it means or why it was so popular, because they are most likely a part of the same generation of gamers that love WoW. Point blank they will be afraid to make a rough and tumble game because they are more concerned about making max profits than making a true MMORPG that deserves the title Everquest.

syberghost
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syberghost

Hedric3248 mmofan consider that some non-trivial portion of EQ’s audience is people who are sticking with the game because their computers can play it, and could not necessarily play something with cutting-edge graphics.

SOE made this mistake once before, when EQ2 required better hardware than WoW.