Daybreak exec on early access, e-sports, VR, EverQuest Next, and the future of EverQuest

Yes, this assuages my nervousness, you bet. has published a lengthy interview with Daybreak chief publishing officer Laura Naviaux Sturr on the evolution of the MMORPG studio¬†over the last year. The interview was conducted at GDC over a month ago, but it’s still relevant — Sturr says Daybreak is in “growth” mode, touting 30% revenue growth year-over-year, H1Z1’s top five Steam release last year, and the rehiring of laid-off employees. She also talks up early access.

“[Early Access is] not for everybody, but I think you’ll see the tide turn where more companies do turn towards it,” she says. “For our games, Early Access makes a lot of sense because we know that we’re invested 5 to 10 years or in EverQuest’s case, 17, and in order to really have a game that has those kind of legs, the community’s got to be behind it. And what better way than making sure that they’re part of that process from day one? […] We’ve been doing games as a service since our inception. It’s in our DNA.”

Sturr also discusses the role of e-sports (she believes the community has to be behind it to make it worthwhile), the potential in VR (Daybreak isn’t as into it now as it once was), and what’s in store for the EverQuest franchise after EverQuest Next’s cancellation:

“It’s heartbreaking to have to cancel games. They’re a labor of love, especially with a community and player base that’s as engaged as the people who love EverQuest over the years. But I think the reasons that we did it were so sound and exactly what we want to see in the industry – that if a game isn’t finding that fun factor and isn’t going to live up to expectations, it’s not just in our best interest as Daybreak, but it’s in the players’ best interests for us not to release that game. And there are high expectations for the EverQuest franchise and we probably set them higher than anybody and we really want to live up to what we know Norrath can deliver – I think you’ll see more of Norrath to come I guess is a better way to put it. EverQuest is just near and dear to our hearts as it always has been. And the lessons learned are probably no different than the fundamentals of game development. You find the heartbeat, you find the fun; we did some amazing things on the technical front that really blew industry insiders’ minds and maybe there’s something in there that we can use in the future. Who knows what the possibilities are? […] I’m focused on moving forward and making EverQuest an experience that can live on to the next generation of gamers.” [Emphasis ours.]


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