Opinion on Daybreak Games: It Didn’t Have To Be This Way

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

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UPDATE: SOE President John Smedley has responded to this post.


The day has arrived that I’ve been dreading since I heard the first rumors. Layoffs have befallen Daybreak Games, affecting H1Z1, Planetside 2, EQNext/Landmark, EverQuest, and EverQuest II. The Community Relations team was one of the hardest hit, with Brasse, Amnerys, Ashlanne, Hats, and Afista all let go. We haven’t confirmed any other layoffs in any other department such as QA, CS, Platform, Web, etc.

I have to hand it to the EQ2 team who has pulled together as a family over the last week in the face of such terrible questions as “What content could you do with 10 people?” The EQ2 team isn’t as large as in the Kunark days, yet it continues to release Game Updates throughout the year plus an annual Expansion. The team puts in crazy hours to try to deliver what players want and I can only dream of what they could do with more staff. When they heard the news, and in the face of crippling uncertainty, the team started collecting notes on what they’d been working on so that the people left wouldn’t be totally screwed. They did this without prompting and it’s a sign of how strong the team is.

So with today’s news, armchair MBAs have been pontificating with their years of financial knowledge and apparent business acumen that this is “business as usual” and that these kinds of layoffs are inevitable. This could not be further from the truth. I almost consider it a kind of Stockholm Syndrome that those who have played and followed SOE games for all these years have come to believe that it is acceptable for profitable games that keep the company afloat and fund development to regularly experience debilitating layoffs.

It Didn’t Have To Be This Way

According to a source who spoke to me on condition of anonymity, two years ago, Sony Corporation expressed its desire for Sony Online Entertainment to be spun off as a separate company. Not only would this allow SOE to develop games for other platforms such as Xbox One, but it would give the company a freedom it’d never had as a subsidiary of Sony. However there’s no denying the primary motivation. Anyone who has followed Sony’s financial troubles over the past few years knows that this fits a strategy to raise cash.

You would think that Sony Online Entertainent president John Smedley would have sought bids from companies that had the best interests in mind for the long-term growth and survival of the company in mind. However you would be wrong. According to an anonymous source at SOE and verified by a source in the gaming industry, SOE turned down three serious offers to buy the company, with one deal falling through literally days before the papers were to be signed.

Perfect World expressed serious interest in buying and supporting the games by increasing staffing for the game teams, possibly spinning them off into individual smaller studios, while trimming what they perceived as waste in the executive and management levels. In short, John Smedley and his friends at the top of SOE would see their jobs in jeopardy. Of course there’s no guarantee that PWE would have treated SOE’s IP any better, as they have not been the best custodians of other games, but at least it would be a gaming company that understands developer resources. But at the last minute, he torpedoed the deal and SOE’s search for a suitor continued. 

Snatching Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

I have talked extensively on this site over the last 7 years about SOE’s failures to market and position its games to the correct audiences. Smedley sold kid-friendly FreeRealms to investors as “World of Warcraft for tweens” and the company dumped $20-30 million into the property, including nearly a year of the EverQuest II team diverted to work on the game. For the game’s release, SOE had contracted with a 3rd party promotion company, yet despite warnings to prepare for large numbers, SOE’s servers were completely crushed under the load and some 90% of potential players who attempted to login over the first few days were unable to do so, wasting millions of dollars more of marketing money. Worse, the game completely undershot its target audience, with gameplay that a 6-7 year old could master. Most 6 year olds don’t have a lot of disposable cash. FreeRealms never made its investment back.

Despite three years of development, girl-friendly shooter The Agency never made it past a procession of teaser trailers and a playable demo or two, constantly morphing its gameplay style to another each year as it tried to find itself. The game was never released and declared a total loss. Development costs incurred at SOE’s Seattle Studios remain unknown, but the studio closed shortly thereafter, so just the expense of maintaining an office cannot be discounted.

EverQuest Next has been a going concern at SOE since at least 2008, more likely 2007. Players first heard about it during Jace Hall’s wretched Evercracked documentary released in 2009. We saw the first screenshots and concept art at the 2010 Fan Faire convention. At SOE Live in 2011, we saw a screenshot of a human male character. Then at SOE Live in October 2012, Smedley admitted that the first two revisions of EverQuest Next had been “blown up” and the team had started over. Finally, during the August 2013 EQN Building Worlds panel, EQN/L Art Director Rosie Rappaport admitted that the EQNext team had thrown out a 3rd revision of the game which had fixed-sized voxels like Minecraft.

Think about that. If we are very conservative on our timing, that’s January 2008-December 2011 or four solid years of development thrown in the trash before the team started over with what we see now in Landmark and what we will eventually see in EQNext. If we assume staffing numbers between 30-70 personnel during this time, a completely realistic number for the development of a new MMO, that’s $10 million just in staffing costs for EverQuest Next, not including all the incidental costs, servers, license fees, HR, etc.

So adding all this up, and despite receiving a cash infusion of $7 million from ProSieben Games in exchange for rights to SOE’s EU customers, the collective losses resulted in slews of layoffs and a stunning writeoff in 2013 of $60.7 million.

Through all this, SOE has had few solid performers to allow this freewheeling and completely undisciplined cash burn: EverQuest and EverQuest II. More recently, Planetside 2 and DC Universe Online have caught players attention, especially on the game-starved Playstation 4, but SOE’s bread-and-butter for many years has been the EverQuest franchise.

No Consequences?

EverQuest II is profitable. SOE does not share numbers, but from what I’ve been able to confirm, plus the information available if you know where to look, subscriptions and logins have remained strong over the last year, with respectable numbers two months after the Altar of Malice expansion. If you add up expansion purchases, StationCash sales, and monthly subscriptions, EQ2 continues to support itself AND the development of SOE’s many other properties. I have enough information to state this unequivocally.

There have been three rounds of layoffs since 2010 in response to poor financial decisions.  The cuts have been deep; players have sacrificed the content we’d love to see, development teams have sacrificed time with family, and investors have sacrificed a fair return.  So, what is Smedley’s sacrifice?  Where is the pound of flesh to pay for his poor decisions?

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This is all the man has to say. No leadership. Just a frowny face. Rather than finding a home for SOE that would foster the profitable game teams, John Smedley has gone out of his way to choose a buyer that will protect his job as well as those of his executive friends in finance, sales, and marketing.

Sony Online Entertainment nee Daybreak Games seems to have forgotten that this is the house that EverQuest, EverQuest II, and Star Wars Galaxies built. While some of SOE’s new games have shown promise and have the possibility of taking their rightful place as a tentpole of the company, they’re not there yet. A smart business man puts his resources into profit centers, and is cautious about investments in unproven ideas. Smedley has been reckless and he’s forgotten where he came from.

What can we expect from this investment capital company who are our new overlords? We don’t know, but during a companywide meeting at a nearby hotel, Columbus Nova representative Jason Epstein, who has been described to us as professional, respectful, and engaged with the facts, said “Developers are sacred. Most of the cuts will be from everywhere else in the company. Obviously we need some developers.” Maybe there is a silver lining in all this, but either way, I stand with a much smaller EverQuest II team who have continued in the face of adversity, while allowing the company to chase the latest trends with reckless abandon.

Update from John Smedley, take it how you will…

 

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Comments (70)

  • Alawi

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    I think I’m devastated really. I know this is business but an end of an era is at hand.

    Say what you will about SOE it was part of a giant multinational empire and had the resources to back it up, Daybreak is another game outfit it means nothing in the end.

    I don’t just miss the personalities involved such as Georgeson, Brasse, Butler, the team etc but I will miss them in this ecosphere ; the EQ sphere and knowing they will move on doesn’t really offer solace because I wanted them in *this* world, our world, the EQ world.

    I suppose Omeed Dariani is stirring somewhere going ‘whoa I actually avoided the purging.’

    Sad sad situation.

    Reply

    • milliebii

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      Dont forget Margaret Krohn, she moved on at just the right moment.

      Reply

      • asdf

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        Do you think it was by luck?

        Reply

        • Taka

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          Nah, I think she’s further exponentially increasing her sexy power by way of a place where she’s less confined from stretching her creative muscles in a variety of ways.. props… Either way she’s a badddd mamaja. Just sayin…

          Reply

    • BA Page

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      I remember when I first experienced Everquest, a friend’s roomate was killing spiders in the.dark elf Forrest and I was amazed. We were all on dial up back then and it was a dream realized. Finally I could find others who loved fantasy games and join with them for epic adventures. I still have my account to this day although I ran out of excuses years ago. I’m saddened that the individuals who created and maintained eq, a true landmark in gaming have been given the boot so others may have positions in other companies. It was a beautiful ride. I do not know how you can recapture the magic and authenticity of the orginal eq but I’m sure it’s with the developers not the executives. I’ll be watching and waiting. B.A. Page

      Reply

  • Baarbosss

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    I had a feeling cuts were going to happen. This is the only mmo that I’ve e we stuck with nothing has came close to eq2 for me. I’m hoping we still see expacks and decent updates. I don’t want to see the doors close…made some amazing friends here. I wish those who got laid off the best…I hope a company sees the talent lost and grabs it. Let’s hope daybreak doesn’t harm our game anymore than it has.

    Reply

  • Cherise

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    Thanks for writing this, it gives some much needed perspective to the situation. It does seem that the firings have been made around the CEO, which is only to be expected in the situation you describe. Smedley has negotiated a better deal for himself. We see many of the producers/community people gone, but what about the people that are not in the public eye?

    I have to wonder if some of the coding/programming staff are up to the tasks described in some of the promo material that Georgeson narrated with his “living world” descriptions of EQ Next. There was a lot of stuff in there that seemed evolutionary that now has fallen by the wayside, and throwing more people at the issue isn’t going to get it done. It seems that there was a brainstorming session and people did outline what would be necessary to bring the genre to the next level, but in the execution it turned out to be too much to actually do.

    Coding things like that is a tremendous challenge, and it would take a person with particular talents to lead a team and accomplish that. People, business executive types, seem to think programmers are like the machines they work on- interchangeable and expendable. But above the basic level of cookbook coding there is a kind of artistry and visualization that exists and is entirely disregarded by people who have never tried it. Not everyone has the talent to be a great painter, and not everyone can weave the magic of programming to accomplish new things.

    From what we’ve seen with H1Z1 and its rather lackluster emulation of Day Z, it appears that there is a missing component of the team- an exceptional individual who can see the big programming picture and make things work. It isn’t very surprising given the way all of American business has been going recently, which is to get rid of the individuals who stand out. It would have been more surprising if they could pull off an H1Z1 or an EQ Next without one.

    Moreover, EQ and EQ2 had a certain something that made them special, and it would be great if that could be bottled and imported it to the next generation of MMO gaming, while moving on from some of the less fun gaming systems that act as a Skinner Box more than an integral part of a fun hobby.

    What can be done to move the genre to the next level? The CEO of a company has to have a talent for recognizing talent in the people they hire. And they have to have a broad idea of what would make their company’s products successful. Right now MMO’s are in a stage where they must advance or fall by the wayside, and evolution is what the CEO needs to be concerned with. Even if the problem is recognized, which I do think it was at SOE, there is the matter of finding that wizard who can make it happen.

    It doesn’t look hopeful at Daybreak. Perhaps it will take a series of fits and starts with many enthusiastic Indie hobbyists before someone can put the big picture together and MMO’s can evolve.

    Reply

  • Wilhelm Arcturus

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    Part of me thinks that perhaps it did have to be this way. SOE has had an odd existence. It came into being under the Sony Pictures umbrella, where it got to do its own thing for years thanks to the huge success of EverQuest.

    They had to shape up a bit when they finally got moved under the PlayStation people, but it took them a long time… they got a Mac OS version of Free Realms out long before the PS3 version went live… and the PlayStation team is all about selling hardware, so I am not convinced they had to live in the real world even then.

    Now though, with the EverQuest franchise still profitable, but no longer a juggernaut which can finance whatever goofy whim they choose to pursue, the rubber is truly hitting the road. Columbus Nova Prime will put their financial house in order so that they are a sustainable business, but I still wonder to what end. It is not a stretch to wonder if they will trim things down so the financials look good, then turn around and sell the whole thing to another buyer at a tidy profit. PWE or some other entity may still end up running things eventually.

    Reply

  • Alawi

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    By the way Feldon this was a hell of an excellent write up. Well done. But don’t forget Planetfall 2 also probably sucked resources.

    Basically you’re right, the stuff Smed was passionate about; The Agency, Free Realms, Planetfall etc the public wasn’t and it killed SOE.

    Had he focused on the Everquest IP and grown the two games and courted Hollywood (animation, feature film etc) the franchise would be a billion dollar one.

    It’s too late now.

    Reply

  • Baarbosss

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    One more thing…this company managed to be more than a company to us. They connected as friends as fellow gamers like no other gaming company. We knew these people as friends as personalities to our hobby. I’m truly afraid that community is now lost. I know not every decision has been good but they listened to us and tried to make it out game. I feel we lost friends…and it just sucks.

    Reply

  • Anaogi

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    First: Given what I’ve learned elsewhere since yesterday’s events, this was very near the best that could have been expected given the circumstances. (The best would have been Smed handed his head. And I suspect that may come soon enough.)

    Second: Next is dead. It’s been the poster child for the sunk costs principle, and how people react irrationally to them; the plug should have been pulled years ago, and with all due respects to what’s been done with Landmark, it’s a sucking chest wound kept alive by egos. That’s it. It needs to be put out of its misery, and I can’t conceive of a sane businessman from outside the fold concluding otherwise.

    Third: I’m going down with the ship. The game’s been as much about relationships as anything else for me, and as long as my guildies and raid buddies still log in, so will I. Who knows, we may even be pleasantly surprised…but if not, I’ll be there when the servers get turned off.

    I suppose that’s all I’ve got. I hope the good people will find new opportunities…and hope someday those responsible for this continuing travesty will reap what they have sown.

    What a stupid, stupid waste.

    Reply

    • Wurm

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      “I’ll be there when the servers get turned off. ”

      Same Here. Just like I was when SWG went off line. sigh.

      And Dear Mr. Smedley… this two finger, two hand salute is just for you.

      Reply

  • Ziggs

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    Way to go Feldon!!!!! You apparently got Smed’s attention. He’s taken to Twitter already to “set you straight”. HAHA.

    Reply

    • Skitterfast

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      Good

      Maybe we’ll get real information, not just corporate speak.

      Reply

  • bhagpuss

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    I was in the middle of writing a post about the current events based on David Carey’s very illuminating Reddit post that you linked. I stopped for lunch and came back to read your Op Ed. Not sure there’s much point finishing that post now.

    If your assessment of Smed’s leadership thus far is correct, though, it seems unlikely he’d be seen by the new owners as a good fit to carry on in the same role. Whether he goes or whether he stays we should be able to draw some conclusions by how differently things are done at Daybreak. Not that we, as players, have any say in any of it, as those of us who were sold to PSS1 and then traded back know all to well.

    Reply

  • Sadric

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    Smed could set things straight by correcting, publicly, Feldon’s “factually inaccurate” comments. Alternatively, he could hop out of the plane with his Golden Parachute as the failed executive he is.

    Reply

  • Carnifex

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    Certainly there was, and still is, bloat at DGC. We’ve not had expansions for years, but rather trivial updates with tiny content. The cutting of costs, however, should have started with Smedley. I hold him fully accountable for the whole free debacle, and the games that were aimed at 5 yr olds, namely Realms and Skidmark. EQ2 was great, and could have been easily maintained that way, there are people that actually appreciate a challenge in games and don’t mind working for the good stuff. Even this new zombie thing looks like total garbage to me, if there is another EQ game it for damn sure needs to be more like EQ 1 was than anything that has been created since.

    Reply

  • Merriel

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    Nice write up Feldon. I took the time this morning to email ColumbusNova, and addressed my email to Andrew intater, Jason Epstein, and Paul Lipari, who are listed as their team.

    In my email I asked them to check out the EQ/EQ2 forums, EQ2U news broadcasts, and other gaming industries forums so they can see for themselves the uproar they have caused with these layoffs.

    I also requested that they take the time to address us on the forums and inform us of their true intent regarding our beloved games, and to please be honest about it, even if it’s negative, asking that they not make the same mistake SOE did with false hopes and promises they don’t intend to keep.

    I think if enough people take the time to email them, it may get their attention. My request alone probably won’t do much, so I am hoping others get on the bandwagon about this as well.

    Reply

  • Eric T Lewis

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    I have decided that I will be with eq2 until we get the sunset message. I for one am glad that PWE did not buy us out. I hate that company. I know where all in the dark with the new company but anybody has to be better than PWE. Gosh knows I don’t want to get loot boxes only to have to go to the store to buy keys in order to receive my loot.

    Reply

    • Skitterfast

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      Don’t even mention ideas like that. They are some of my worst fears.

      Reply

      • Eric T Lewis

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        I played sto for a short bit, and when they added that loot box key stuff. I removed it from my hard drive. So when I saw Feldon write about PWE, I was like OMG NO!

        Reply

  • Sandain

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    Let’s see if Smed actually point out the factually incorrect information. I won’t hold my breath though.

    Reply

  • UnknownPerson1

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    there is one thing smed can do to, put out the facts. Put out the sub numbers for eq2/eq and show where the other games were a success.

    Reply

    • Eric T Lewis

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      Some sort of fact put out would be nice it would go a lot to putting players fears in check if handled correctly.

      Reply

    • Saltydbs

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      He stated that Planetside 2 just recently turned a profit which I find peculiar as at release it had very high numbers and now is dwindling because they halted content on it for H1Z1. I’m kind of thinking he’s adding in other costs such as the graphics engine as that was the first to use the new Forgelight engine they made. It’s had to turn a decent profit, not to mention as stated above they stopped development on it for H1Z1 and even ignored going the MLG route and lost all of their hardcore players.

      Reply

  • Oxymorphone

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    Oke John dude, come with the facts then 😀

    Reply

  • mizgamer62

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    Brilliant, gutsy, and right on target. Good job as always Feldon. I think Smedley’s snarky reply shows that you hit him where it hurts…with the cold hard truth. If what you said was laughable and factually incorrect, then why didn’t he give a professional and factual rebuttal/response? His attitude continues to uninspired the current or potential players of any games he is in charge of.

    Reply

  • Saltydbs

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    Feldon, me and you don’t normally agree nor get along much but I’m with you on this one.

    In the last decade, pretty much, SoE has released DCUO (which got minimal traction and probably profit because of high voice acting costs) and Planetside 2 (which was there most profitable game). IN A DECADE THEY’VE RELEASED TWO GAMES. And then they question why they’re not making bank? Really?

    So from there they then put 3 games into development at once while shifting resources from the only game that was making them profit of any sort. A call from the PRESIDENT.

    Why would you have two Everquest franchise games in development, one of which was put into alpha which wasn’t even the most anticipate one, then surpass the primary EQN with a zombie survival game that nobody expected/asked for? Your primary franchise, Everquest, couldn’t even be put into Alpha before a zombie survival game that nobody loyal to the SoE franchise wanted?

    And we’re not to blame Smedley? Clearly this was a call by the other games division heads? Even though Smedley only wanted to do H1Z1 because he started playing DayZ and thought he could do it better immediately? Good fucking call!

    Long story short, they let SJ go and left Smedley on board. He needs gone, he is the issue and some of these other layoffs I can understand in the community relations sections, but not SJ.

    Reply

    • Saltydbs

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      Many spelling/grammar errors, holy fuck sorry lol,

      Reply

  • Brakepiston

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    EQ2 has been a part of my life for 10 years and I hope it survives the storm. I have so many friends in the game and I really don’t want to play anything else. This sucks!

    Reply

  • Tomatoh

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    Smedley reminds me of Raph Koster.. Both of their leadership styles lacked any class and any sense of ownership. They deflect and are not the managers I would want to work for anyways. I feel bad for all that was laid off in this economy and I hope they land squarely on their feet.

    Reply

    • Archangel

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      Add John Sculley of Apple, Michael Eisner of Disney, John Donahoe of eBay.

      Layoffs should have started at the top.

      Reply

  • Kruzzen

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    So I wonder how hardit would be to take the new voxel engine for EQ NEXT and implement it in EQ2. 🙂 With how cool EQ2 is, an engine upgrade could add so much more that they could do. 🙂

    Reply

    • Merma

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      If you have been following development for EQNext you would know that Next will make EQII look like EQ. Just as cool lore but with Intelligent AI and a different more interactive way of handling quests. Not just a new engine on an old game.

      Reply

      • Feldon

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        Seen it. Doesn’t look like anything I want to play.

        Reply

        • Johnnykross

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          /agreed Feldon.

          However, I would not be opposed to a revamped eq1. For the record I love EQ2 but have been an eq’er since 1999.

          Reply

  • Eric Poling

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    I will most definitely believe Feldon’s account over Smedley’s vague denial. I have been on the fence about continuing on with EQ2 for some time now and everything I have learned since yesterday morning has just pushed me further into the “quit” camp. If they decide to fire this guy and get EQ2 back on a decent track, great! Otherwise, I just don’t see much past more bone headed decisions that aren’t ultimately for the good of the game.

    Reply

    • Murfalad

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      I’m simulary annoyed over this, but quitting over it is like cutting your nose off to spite your face. Instead its going to be a question of if EQ2 is no longer keeping our attention, too little development would be it, and if it is indeed lumbered with a top heavy (cost) exec team then it is doomed to fail 🙁 We shall see though.

      Reply

  • Jimbolini

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    With Smed denying the report, any chance he would sit down for an interview to clear things up?

    Reply

    • Wurm

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      LOL If he does, it will be just another sign of the end of days.

      Reply

  • Gourdon

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    What boggles my mind is the notion that Smed should have any authority at all in the process of an outside company acquiring SOE. One would think that Sony Corporation would have made the deal. Smed’s motives would not be aligned with Sony in any way, shape or form.

    Reply

  • NIbaazi

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    First, just a nit pick: Sony Online Entertainment nee Daybreak Games is incorrect. It should be Daybreak Games née Sony Online Entertainment.

    I can’t say this, especially that asshole Smedley’s actions, are any surprise. I started playing EQ2 the day the first servers came up, and played religiously up until a couple years ago, when the bullshit and constant nickle-and-diming of players just got too much to bear. Frankly, I am surprised it took this long.

    My predictions:
    They will gut the company for anything of value, lay off all but a skeleton crew. Perhaps squeeze out a few more bucks by releasing anything they can cobble together of the next year or so. Then will sell the right to the Everquest IP and trademark, after shuttering all the studios, and probably the servers.

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  • Betony

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    Excellent write up Feldon! I’ll have to check out the Twitterverse and the Reddit romperroom for Smed’s responses. 😉

    Reply

  • Belinda

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    “I think I’m devastated really. I know this is business but an end of an era is at hand.”

    This sums it up for me. Well said.

    In an MMORPG the entire point of the game is to know people. Interact with people who love the game as much as you do. Over the years I have become so familiar with these folks that I can’t imagine where these games go from here without them at the helm.
    You can pour tons of content into the game but these awesome personalities will not be a part of it anymore. Many times they got us excited about what was coming. They were excited, we were excited…we bought the stuff everyone was excited about !

    I look at all of the responses to this situation and sadly know it makes no difference how much we complain. We could storm the doors with our torches and pitchforks but it won’t change the outcome.

    Reply

  • Afterthought

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    “Feldon I’ll make it simple – your article was so offbase I actually laughed. so much of it is just factually incorrect.”

    Sounds like narcissistic personality disorder.

    Reply

  • Leamie

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    Feldon,

    Thank you for all that you do to keep us informed and, btw, welcome to SC. 😀

    Reply

  • Arabel

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    To be fair most of what Epstein said is true. Very few developers got hit, they really did just trim the fat around the edges.

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    • Feldon

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      You haven’t seen the complete cut list for EQ2 yet.

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      • Eric T Lewis

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        we had 25 before, what do we have now?

        Reply

  • Striinger

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    Considering all above including comments I really think it’s a mistake to cancel their convention with players tl this year. It’s a way to give the community some face time, paint a picture of the future and recharge the hard working dev teams through some fan worship.

    Money may be tight and the future unmapped, but successful businesses never let weakness worry their customers or slow the hype engine. There is still a hype engine, it’s just not being driven by DGC.
    DGC con 2015 FTW!

    Reply

  • Daalilama

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    Good write up….

    as for Smed’s response I wouldn’t even wipe by backside…its that pathetic from a man who always protected his wallet but ignored the community’s and the company’s financial well-being.

    Weak Smed…just weak!

    Reply

  • GriffonLady

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    I literally scared everyone and every pet in the room twice when reading this article. :\
    “Oh NO!” scared my hubby quite badly and sent my cat running when I saw That Brasse is no longer with EQ2, and a horrified “Oh my god” when I was how close we were to being bought by Perfect World (which would have us pay money for gems that we’d need to combine for a big gem to combine with other gems and a piece of rare armor (most likely gambled for as well) and every step of the way has a large chance at getting nothing for the money involved… SOOO glad Perfect world didn’t buy SOE! (Oh yah, and you have to pay to chat there, and there’s a gamble for mounts, any thing that actually enables you to play at top tier such as battle bets, armor.. everything… money AND the chance at not getting anything worth getting. [email protected]#$%#!$ hate that company.)

    Reply

  • Dan

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    Someone needs to get a reliable EQ2 emulator/private server going. When this all goes to hell (which it already kind of has) I want to make sure I can still play the game in the years ahead.

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    • Susan

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      Yes and I suggest sooner than later.

      Reply

  • Moose

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    [Editor’s Note– extremely inappropriate comments deleted. There’s a limit!]

    Now if that pisses someone off, good.

    Feldon, thank you for this well thought out point, and now it makes me glad I uninstalled and never looked back at playing. I follow the game only because of your honest and well thought out commentary.

    Hats off good sir.

    ** Please feel free to edit as needed good sir!!***

    Reply

  • lili

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    Nice write up Feldon! … Actually Smed posted somehwere (when the Agency thing started) that it costs about 60 – 70 million to develop a game like that. I can’t tell where it was posted but I know it was … so the losses that were covered with EQ and EQ2 were probably much higher.

    Imho Smed is a very selfish person who lies to everyone to get his way. I wonder how many of the fired people could have kept their job if Smed would be gone … his salary/share must be enough to pay a bunch of regular salary folks. I much much rather would have seen him gone … but then I would have liked him gone years ago, since I think he is not only a bad person, but also not a very good busines man.

    Oh and Anaogi … you know I am not going to let you turn off the light in our guild hall all by yourself! … so guess … I’m gonna stay too :))

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  • Richard

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    I agree that Smed’s own time is limited, I believe he is a dead man walking, until the Daybreak powers find a stooge loyal enough to them and not the game franchise to put in his place.
    Being a loyal EQ Fan, I’ll be in landmark (as I was in Alpha) a building to the last day, and if given enough warning, I’ll be in that world, still a building when the plug gets pulled for the final time.

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  • Megera

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    When City of Heroes went dark, I couldn’t believe it. But this is worse. I’ve played eq and eq2 since they started. Smedma is as he has always been. Just here to milk the cow. I regret buying a huge wad of station cash over the holidays – I won’t be buying anymore. Who can risk it when we have no idea how we’re (and the game’s) going to be treated?

    I’m looking for the next game company i can devote 20+ years to now. This one is rapidly losing my loyalty.

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  • Kahonen

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    I just received a 5-day ban on the SOE forums for a post asking about credit card security.

    I’ve been in EQ2 as a fully paid-up member since beta – needless to say, my account is now closed.

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  • mmofan

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    Why they have never created a sequel, with a similar feel and game style of their original Everquest game is breath-taking.

    Their Star Wars Galaxies crafting system is usually referenced as the very best crafting system ever created. Again, no sequel.

    How can so many years go by and yet you have a company that apparently was really struggling and yet completely blind to some of the most valuable gaming properties ever created. Mismanagement is likely so much of an understatement that I am not sure any set of words can really detail what a disappointment they have become.

    Hopping onto the casual, free to play, console crowd is apparently the marketing strategy. From what I have seen, you cannot create an MMO anywhere near the complexity of Everquest for a console. Free to play also destroys the entire concept of a challenging, competitive, and interdependent MMO. Consoles can do a lot of games very well, but not an MMO. You really do need a keyboard and a mouse to support the type of required interfaces.

    I am not at all excited about the recent sale and I am also not excited to see much of the management team still in place. From my perspective, we will likely never see another game like Everquest. That alone makes me very sad.

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  • Drstrange

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    You know that a company is in trouble when it automatically bans game journalists from its forums and then from it’s twitter/facebook pages if they start asking awkward questions. That sort of nonsense started a while back, add to that Smedley, as always, being woefully ignorant and oblivious to what was happening in SOE’s games – the problems with Planetside 2 alone – broken mechanics, cheating becoming rife, especially lag switching, regular server crashes and poor performance and hit registration.

    In short, Smedley has run Planetside 2 and other games into the ground and should have been the first person to be given the boot. He’s an utter shambles as a CEO.

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  • Jack

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    I thought the Captain was supposed to go down with the ship. Why is Captain Smedley in the first life boat?

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  • BuzzCutz

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    A smart business man puts his resources into profit centers, and is cautious about investments in unproven ideas. Smedley has been reckless and he’s forgotten where he came from.

    Ignorance is bliss eh Feldon? If it wasn’t for Smedley, EQ would not exist… World of Warcraft would NOT EXIST!!! Just ask the first developers there. The entire genre of 3D MMORPGs came from John Smedley’s pushing into the area of ‘unproven’ ideas.

    What a bunch of sad sacks you all are who are whining and moaning about how the people who are pioneering the game industry are not doing exactly what you think they should do.

    Any good Entrepreneur will tell you that in business, if you are pushing the boundaries of known business models or technology… you’re going to fail…. A LOT!!! Well John Smedley is one of the best Entrepreneurs out there and I for one support his vision…. you guys are like those kinds of people who bitch and moan and naysay until something succeeds… and then pretend you always believed.

    Reply

    • Feldon

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      Please tell me more about how a company that has lost money every year for the past 5 years, just had to do 50% layoffs, and is mostly playing catch up with F2P and other moves is “pioneering the game industry”

      Reply

  • Phaad1

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    There comes a time when we all must make the hard choice of sending that subordinate, who could even be our; spouse, child, parent, favorite relative, lover or very best friend, into a situation that is undoubtedly certain death. The big question in these moments are not will you or won’t you, is there any other way or how close you and that person are, but what is your true motivation for doing so? If it is for the good for the body to cut off and arm to save it, then that is a good thing, but if it’s cutting off both legs and arms just to save the ass and head… because you have to save the head and it’s wrapped inside the ass… or you are just looking to make sure you don’t have to go look for another job, then you made the wrong decision. While I can see the ideas behind pushing the boundaries of conventional thinking to bigger and better things, one has to keep in mind that there is intelligent expansion and then there’s foolhardy expansion and someone who has done nothing but push ahead soon finds his supply trains in danger from attack and being stretched too thin to do anyone any good. It ranks right up there with the saying, your “X” was writing checks you “Y” couldn’t cash. Push the edge, but mind the gap. and respect the source. We are all responsible for our actions and we are all accountable to others for them.

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  • Vraesh

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    Ever since the Star Wars Galaxy “New Gaming Experience”, the word “Smedley” is used as a noun and a verb.
    “I sure hope the devs don’t Smedley this game, I’ll have to quit playing”.
    “I’m leaving this MMO, they pulled a Smedley”.

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  • HammerFist

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    Cycle begins again – get people to invest time and money building a community then smash it up when it isn’t making enough money. SWG all over again. Free realms, EQ2 the pattern is emerging here.

    Whether gaming entrepreneurs or venture capitalists – all have one thing in common – none of them give a rats ass about anything except your money. Only way of combating this shameless greed and abuse of people’s trust is to stop giving it to them. Since SWG I haven’t played any game I felt invested in because at any time they can pull the plug.

    Smedley – you haven’t learned anything from the SWG mistakes and continue to blunder on regardless. Even using your daughter in forums as an ‘I feel your pain’ marketing prop – have you no shred of humility or decency?

    Really feel for the folks that lost their jobs, although at least they are now free of an arrogant turd like you. What is a real shame is that you could have been the lead player in a new age of MMO gaming, instead of the scum bag who blew everyone’s houses down. I suppose your legacy can always be that you got rich off the people who trusted you so why care what they think. If that’s enough for you then you have my pity.

    Reply

  • dale

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    Never could understand why they had to push all the changes onto all the servers? I do now realize if they didn’t force those who still loved the game to eat the poop coming from the king A-hole they would have been out of a job long ago. EQ2 as a game 5 or 6 years ago was the greatest game ever. Trying to get into the new time lock server but unfortunatly I have to still look at the garbage from the last 5 years. An instant broker in the start menu ROFLMAO If someone could find an old backup of Nagafen and launch it would live longer than Monopoly. Well that’s as long as Shmedly was gone and someone with some balls didnt turn it into GimiQuest.

    Reply

  • Muriel Hykes

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    Let Smed’s bluster and arrogance serve as a textbook warning to companies who deal with dissent by banning customers who complain.

    Reply

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