Everquest Not Next

There was little surprise with the announcement of the cancellation of Everquest Next. Some hopes and dreams were minorly dashed as a game that never really was a game was finally ended the way it began. As an announcement. EQ:N was never really there so the announcement that they officially ended their prior announcement that they were building some successor had all the shock of telling a 25 year old that Santa wasn’t real. Well, duh, dad, I’ve known that since I was seven. Thanks for keeping the illusion alive for a while there though.

The real question is now, is what is really next? Next for EQ, and next for MMOs? There is no future so bright shade wearing on the horizon.

Daybreak and EQ are fortunate to have the huge success of their TLPs and continued ways to get a subscription fee. Really, I bet they are the third highest subscription gaining MMO out right now if you count it that way (after WoW and Eve, is anyone even collecting subs anymore?). They can (and should) ride that train to the next sell point. Remember Columbus Nova is a private equity investor and they normally run on 5 or 10 year investments. Get an asset, ramp it up, sell it to the next, bigger PE firm. Columbus wants a high return (many PE firms think it is a failure to not get 20x, or at least, that is a waste of their capital) so it probably makes sense that they would cancel something that would take a huge investment with little clear chance of success. I’ll be back to Phinigal soon as I finish Pillars of Eternity (or unless X-COM 2 has DLC out by then). I can only give one game at a time my attention and EQ TLP is currently sitting in second place.

For MMOs in general this decline is good for them. It’s good that people have stopped trying to out budget and out muscle WoW. It’s good that developers are realizing that you can’t build an excellent graphically represented top ten MMO feature list and jam it into a soulless world and call it an MMO and reap profits. In the mindset of what spurs innovation and better business/ thinking:

  • “Business as Usual”  – until
  • “Crisis” – which leads to a necessary
  • “New way of thinking” – which, once realized leads to a
  • “New Reality” – which once executed, leads to
  • “Business as Usual”

Good businesses skip crisis and self create a new way of thinking, but that doesn’t happen often in most industries and definitely not gaming. MMOs already hit “crisis” with the huge failures of TESO, Wild*, and major MMO closures such as Warhammer Online. The “new way of thinking” is occurring with the Kickstarted and crowdfunded niche titles. We just haven’t seen the new reality yet.

But we will, and hopefully that creates games that aren’t just bullet pointed feature sets, but worlds to explore. The focus you see in these new kickstarted titles does give some hope. EQ:N also gave some hope.

The only hope I have now, is patience for a new reality.

[link to TAGN for all sorts of good coverage about it.]

10 comments / Add your comment below

  1. You missed FFXIV, which is certainly the second subscription MMO at the moment. SWtoR is also effectively a sub game by most accounts. It probably has way more subs than EQ/EQ2.

    Actually, who even knows how many subs DBG has for anything? Yes, you need a sub to play on TLE and yes, TLE has been busy, but what does “busy” mean? A few thousand players? Fewer? There’s no way for us to know.

    That said, even a thousand players is $100k a month on a sub. It does mount up. You can see how a well-designed niche MMO that corners a specific market could get by with really quite a small take-up. Mark Jacobs talks about 50,000 as the target for CU, or so I seem to recall. A smaller team might well be profitable at a tenth of that.

    1. Very true! Completely forgot about FFXIV. That game did not work for me. Still, by default its definitely a top 5 subscription game =) The best part about it is that people will pay for an experience they enjoy, no matter how that looks to the masses.

  2. Yep, by all accounts I’ve read FFXIV is the #2 subscription game behind WoW. Everyone always mentions EVE next but yeah, SWTOR is up there because their F2P model pretty much anally abuses everyone until they sub, so who knows whether it or EVE is actually #3.

    I don’t know about Wildstar because I didn’t touch it ever and don’t read about it. But I’m not sure I’d say ESO is a “huge failure,” as it has its 3rd expansion already on Windows/Mac and coming in a couple weeks to the consoles. I own it on Windows/PS4/XB1 and wherever I login there’s tons of players around so… I guess they’re doing ok?

    Regarding EQN, I’m pretty meh about it. My only experience with EQ was watching over the shoulder as a friend played and I just didn’t see myself enjoying that. Now, in retrospect, I’m quite positive it was a “you had to actually play not watch” thing (so where does Twitch fit into that now? lol) which explains why I didn’t “get” it. But I think SWG (my first MMO) gave me the same “community” experience you EQ peeps got so it’s all good. EQ2 on the other hand, still remains the one and only MMO I actually honestly regret buying. And I own Warhammer and Hellgate: London! EQ2 was just the most awful and atrocious experience for me. Others love it, and that’s great. I did have a brief flirtation with EQ Adventures on PS2 but other factors prevented me from sticking with it past beta. So I was looking forward to EQN (on PS4!!! haha!) to finally give me some sort of positive EQ experience. Big bucket of NOPE there, now.

    I suspect we’re nearing a bursting of the MMO Bubble. Which, sure, will evoke some tragedy in those of us with strong nostalgia for our early MMO days. But if I’m being honest with myself, a big part of why I rarely bother playing MMOs now isn’t the time constraints of the game vs. my life’s schedule. That’s part of it but I can make do. MMOs have largely not lived up to their potential yet and developers don’t seem to have any interest in doing so. Add to that the extreme cost and time to design, produce and release an MMO — in 3-5 years the features you thought would be cool have already been out in other games and discovered to either not work or sure they worked but it’s no longer your big selling point, it’s expected and we all just take it for granted. In 3-5 years your core design philosophy could no longer be what the market wants. Now you’re up a creek without a paddle and the weight of all the money you spent is sinking your canoe.

    I dunno, I think the entire MMO industry is in such a rut of stagancy that perhaps it’s going to take a complete crash in order to rebuild itself from its fiery remains and push itself to better potential.

    1. I always forget about FFXIV. I mean, it did fail once too, right? =) I still think TESO is a failure for the sole fact that it had to change its business model so quickly in. That means not enough were playing it like they planned… so yeah, maybe “huge” was a bit unfair but it definitely didn’t launch as planned.

      I agree that a crash is good, (hence my business as usual to crisis to new thinking….) so hopefully this is indeed enough of a crisis that things change.

      The other choice is that they just stop trying. That would be worse.

  3. I only heard about this now and here. For some reason the very old and wrinkly person that I feel like was hoping that EQ:N might revitalize the MMO scene and that I’d have some place to refill my bags of nostalgia in a modern engine. Oh well.

    So… Who’s up for some Project 1999? 🙂

    1. I tried P1999 but the progression servers have a lot of modern day conveniences and the same old EQ. I farmed the mino caves, rode the boat, grouped extensively.. it was a solid experience all around. P1999 was EXTRA painful with the modern day convenience ever so evident.

      I didn’t like EQ because it was brutal and punishing, I liked it because I made friends there and always had a team (because it was brutal and punishing).

      The progression servers were a nice gap of less punishing, but filled with people that know that grouping is better for advancement so it happens often.

      1. Yeah, having no built-in map wasn’t too fun. And not knowing what the spells do wasn’t great either. I remember having a folder full of printed maps from EQAtlas to get anywhere.

        But enough nostalgia. You convinced me to try EQ (the live one) again to see what’s in it 🙂 I’m sure it’ll feel nigh unplayable even with some modernizations, but I’m happy to be proven wrong. I was in EQ for the people and the atmosphere too, not for getting raped, I don’t enjoy Dark Souls, Super Meat Boy or 1001 Spikes either, for example.

        My Station account seems to have safely turned into a Daybreak account. Small wow moment: I made that account almost 17 years ago and all my characters and their gear are still there. Cheers, Daybreak.

      2. Oh, another thing! Have you tried Shroud of the Avatar? To me, it does have some EverQuesty elements even though it’s blatantly from the Ultima camp. There’s little hand-holding, few-ish skills available at the same time, passionate players, very dark nights and you’re the only one to blame if you ventured somewhere you weren’t yet strong enough for.

        I participated in the kickstarter campaign and hope they will soon be at the point in the alpha when they don’t character wipe anymore. I put some hope into this, even though an EQ in a modern engine would be more my style.

        1. I haven’t tried Shroud yet – I never did play Ultima so I am actually leaning more to the McQuaid release (I know, shoot me now!)

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