Daybreak President John Smedley Responds to Article

Written by Feldon on . Posted in Commentary, EQ2

Not surprisingly, my article “Daybreak Games: It Didn’t Have to Be This Way” received a lukewarm response from its subject, Daybreak President John Smedley.

After exchanging a few candid e-mails with him, I’m able to release this comment:

We absolutely made sure that taking care of our employees was the highest priority and this deal was by far and away the one that took care of people the best.

It is absolutely true that Columbus Nova honored severance packages for those who were laid off and so salaried employees have time to find a new job, most with several months not including unemployment. CN could have reduced or eliminated this program as part of the deal but they did not. Mostly, Smedley feels that whoever I spoke to about the quantity and suitability of the buyout deals mentioned, specifically why Columbus Nova was chosen, doesn’t have all the facts.

Also since the publication of the article, I’ve heard from several players of PWE games that were skeptical about the rosy optimism. Specifically unlock boxes and cash shops and how their Customer Service is structured. PWE supports its developers, but was it a good fit for Daybreak’s games? We’ll never know.

Trackback from your site.

Comments (59)

  • Aqua

    |

    I appreciate you going to the trouble of following up, as well as making a post specifically about it. Speaks to the continued credibility of the site. Keep it up, brother.

    Reply

  • nart

    |

    About PWE lock boxes, I play Neverwinter and unlocking box is like playing at casino, guess who win….

    Reply

  • Sadric

    |

    Sometimes you just have to poke the bear to get a response.

    Thank you for your continued work, Feldon!

    Reply

  • mithreal

    |

    Mr. Smedley, why did you ignore the player community’s reaction for so long and not do something to get out ahead of it? You must have known how passionate people are about EQ/EQ2. Your lack of attention is causing disruption.

    Reply

    • Wanda_Clamshucker

      |

      No, disruption is something that happens when you are in a line for groceries in the 1-9 item line, and a busybody with OCD notices you have 10 items. Smed’s lack of attention and narcissism caused critical levels of financial failure resulting in the catastrof*ck we are currently witnessing.

      As for his response to Feldon’s article..pfft. I expected nothing less than a school yard level of retort. It was the equivalent of, “I know you are, but what am I?

      Reply

      • thomas

        |

        bingo. Pfft and everything. Right on the money.

        Reply

  • Adegx

    |

    Well i certainly know one employee the deal took care of. Yes, I’m looking at you Smed. Cant help but to notice your still employed.

    Reply

  • Oxymorphone

    |

    Rift had lockboxes after the F2P conversion. When they put BiS gear in there I quit.

    Feldon, great job as always !

    Reply

  • Betony

    |

    I agree with Aqua, Feldon. Alas for ‘poor Smed.’ His lack of presence and support for anything Everquest over the years is too heavy for even a smidgeon of support to be believable now.

    On a personal dislike note: his corticosteroid bloated body and hipster bald pate have revolted me for years and, in my belief, can be the cause of his behavior and lack of logic. MY opinion only.

    Reply

  • unclex

    |

    honestly if PWG would have taken over SOE I would have became a full time wow or ffxiv player

    Reply

    • Finora

      |

      I would likely just have sworn off mmos.

      Thanks Feldon for poking the bear as Sadic said. 🙂

      Reply

  • Kong

    |

    Cant anyone start a “Fire Smed Instead” list where we can sign our names? Im guessing his salary equals to two or several of the actually GREAT people that we lost yesterday….

    Why do you guys think that the people who have commented after they got fired, either had very little (neutral) to say or said “Its best for all of us and all of you” ? Its not because they believe it, its because a severance packet has A LOT of things to abide by. Probably one clausul being to never speak ill of the company for a 5/10 year period or even give a final statement, saying its the best for everyone.

    I dont trust Smed, I dont trust the management group and because of this – i no longer trust Daybreak.

    Reply

    • Archangel

      |

      Kong – “never speak ill of the company”

      Standard Non-Disclosure Agreement, and the understanding that said terminated employee can be (illegally) blacklisted or (legally) sued.

      Like some company buyouts, John Smedley likely negotiated before anything else a contractual ‘when I’m fired’ large buy-out clause. While other company buyouts, have a bonu$ given to key personnel to stay. John Smedley doesn’t seem to have this … hmmmm.

      Reply

  • UnknownPerson1

    |

    I understand he went for the good of the developers, which is a nice thing to do. But seems to me that he still ran SoE into the ground with one failed pet project after another. When they could have been pushing the eq franchise and adding players.

    Reply

  • Eschia

    |

    Regarding PWE Lockboxes, I don’t like to waste money on a random chance of loot, so when I loot a lockbox in Star Trek Online, I usually let them stack up until the end of my mission and delete the whole stack. The way I see it, I would have probably got some useless junk anyway.

    Reply

  • Archangel

    |

    Feldon, if your article were that off base John Smedley would be suing you.

    The sound of crickets from Smedley’s lawyer. Didn’t think so.

    Reply

    • thomas

      |

      yup

      Reply

  • S1lence1

    |

    People got fired who shouldn’t have and paid “severance” to keep their mouthes shut.

    People who still have their jobs are scared of the same and will say anything they are told to say, so Smed actually has a valid excuse for lying to us this time.

    Players who speak negative against Daybreak in Official forums are being suspended in large numbers.

    The spin is obvious and nothing can be trusted except the fact that we are not getting told the truth. It’s kinda ironic.

    Reply

    • Blacktopnl

      |

      Layoffs happen, its sucks but its a fact of live.

      But bashing your ex-employer is never a good idea. it seems pity and it can have a impact on the people/friends that are still working there, it can even really hurt your career in the future.

      its just not worth it, NDA or not if you talk there is a good chance no one will hire you again

      Reply

      • 7rlsy

        |

        Best to do that over beers with collegues a few months later, privately, to blow off steam. :p

        Reply

      • Gaealiege

        |

        It seems petty? How about laying someone off when their salary is pocket change? How’s that for petty?

        Blacklisting is illegal, so in that scenario take them to the bank. If a corporation is being corrupt, whistleblow. It’s cowards that allow such things to continue.

        Reply

  • TBone

    |

    Is Smedley responsible for the 7+ years of development that hasn’t produced a shipped version of EQN? Or does that fall under SJ?

    Reply

  • elquinjena

    |

    I find a lot of truth in this article. Many things that just can not be over looked. 2013 the big focus was EQN Smed was excited. 2014 EQN is still there but now the big focus is H1Z1, and Smed acts as if EQN is just a after thought. Before all these were Freerelams which would have been great if it had been aimed just a bit higher.

    Smed attention seemed to go everywhere except back to his money makers. Though I will say he got excited about planetside which does have a large following.

    But…my opinion of smed changed the day I watched him do one of his few Twitch stream while demoing H1Z1! H1Z1 seemed like a very selfish game, no grouping, just out for your self type game. Why do a MMO if its a single player game. At least that is what I saw when watching smed do a “every man for them selfs” playing style. He took great glee in beating down his H1Z1 Devs who were in game during his twitch demo.

    Guess I have never seen such a cruel side to Smed before, even if its a zombie game. There was no banding together to survive in this game.
    Maybe its just the PVP mind set, get everyone else before they get you.

    Another thing that I will never forget is the fact that Smed has stated that he Hates EQ2. It did not turn out as he wanted and it is too late to change it. Which is why I think he keeps trying to find another star game, but so far has failed to grab the players passion like EQ and EQ2 does.

    Reply

    • Jalek

      |

      Nothing new, Smedley said he played WoW with his kids since they didn’t like EQ2 many years ago. He was pushing FreeRealms within just a few months of EQ2’s launch, even if he couldn’t name the F2P project he thought would be the future.
      Pretty amazing that he’s still around, buyout or not.

      Reply

  • Neiloch

    |

    As much as I like Daybreak and even smed in a respectable, head-butting way I give no weight to his denials without WHY they are wrong and what supposedly really happened. Anyone can just say ‘you’re wrong’ about anything and walk away, it doesn’t hold sway without info to back it up.

    Reply

  • Enoeraew

    |

    I know I’m in the minority but in these cases I liek to blame the insiders that have kept quiet and let speculation run amok to protect their own careers. When you personally build a community like some of these EQ devs and commnity managers have done and get people to invest their time and money contributing to that community you have an obligation to those people to let them know if the ship is going under. /spit on these people who just walking away to the next gig with a twitter post and basically leaving the rest, and our investment, hanging.

    Reply

    • Gaealiege

      |

      I concur.

      Reply

  • Tomanator

    |

    The only reason severance packages are offered are either in pre-arranged golden parachutes or a way to limit the companies risk.

    The anti-competitive clauses they are forced to sign as part of the severance package are used to minimize this risk. The clauses would keep the newly unemployed out of the MMO gaming market for a couple of years.

    Reply

    • thomas

      |

      I hate Arizona, but one thing I like about living here…right to work state. NDA’s and non-competes don’t hold any weight here at all. Thanks, republicans!

      Reply

    • Cheggers

      |

      Not really. Non-competes aren’t valid in CA except under specific circumstances, none of which apply in this case I don’t think. Without knowing the exact circumstances of the individuals involved, it is just speculation. It is feasible CN simply didn’t want the bad press of tossing out a bunch of Dev’s onto the street with nothing. Or, the employees in question could have had employment contracts. Or Smed/CN really were concerned for their well-being. We just don’t know, and it’s doubtful you’re ever going to get a straight answer because nobody is obliged to give us one.

      But also, former employees aren’t going to speak ill of CN unless they are sure they never want to work in the games industry again. It’s a competitive industry at the best of times, and the last thing a prospective employer is going to want is a troublemaker.

      Reply

    • milliebii

      |

      Strange, in Australia such a clause would be struck down by the courts as a ‘restraint of trade’. It is very, very hard for an employer to win a case to enforce such a thing and the longer the period of the non-compete the less likely it is to get past a court, six months is generally the limit unless it can be shown that the former employee had access to confidential information or vital trade secrets with a life longer than that and that disclosing them to a new employer was likely to harm the former employer.

      Reply

      • Gaealiege

        |

        That’s because Australia isn’t as corrupt as the U.S.

        Anything that can harm the people doing the actual labor is perfectly fine here. Something about freedom and all that.

        Reply

  • Sarl Cagan

    |

    Smedley is a dumpster fire of lies and can only spread more shit as he saves his own job and tries to convince the world that H1Z1 isn’t a shit clone of Day Z. He will drive daybreak into the ground while getting paid more than he was at SOE.

    Reply

  • GriffonLady

    |

    In EQ2, you want a flying mount, you can buy one for $20.
    In Perfect World, you can gamble away 100s of dollars and never get that mount or anything else usefull or nice.
    Actually, every thing there that is decent/will enable you to survive in top tier areas is gambled for with IRL $, and has more of a chance of nothing/worthless items than anything else.
    Chat is pay-per-chat. (IIrc it was per line or something like that.)

    Admittedly, It’s been a few years since I did play PW, but took me a month or so to leave that POS with a bitter hatred for the scheme they used.

    IMHO, more pressure to pay for subscriptions makes for a healthier game and a stronger player base.

    Reply

    • Mentin

      |

      I really need to defend Neverwinter a little here:
      * Yes, lockboxes are a bad deal. But you do not have to use them to get BiS items. While they can drop BiS stuff, equivalent stuff is available in game without paying real money. The lockbox stuff might have unique looks, but no functional advantages. Also lockbox stuff is tradeable so you can buy it on the AH.
      * The chat thing is just bs. Chat is free of course.
      * Neverwinter basically is pay-to-accelerate, not pay-to-win. There are no significant items you can aquire by real money that cannot be obtained from normal play. There is a real money to game money exchange, so everyone can obtain the real money currency from normal play.

      However, note that the grind in Neverwinter is long, so if you MUST have BiS in all slots, 24 hours a day grind probably is not enough to get that before they raise the target. You can get a 90% character with a reasonable amount of grind, a 100% character probably requires acceleration by real money.

      I am playing Neverwinter without spending real money, and at the 90% level I do quite well in PvE. (Not a fan of PvP) There are not many players at the 100% level, so it is not required in any way.

      Reply

      • Gaealiege

        |

        I hate to break it to you, but Pay-To-Accelerate is identical to Pay-To-Win. If you can purchase best-in-slot items with real life money, that is pay-to-win. It requires no in-game effort and as such is an unfair advantage conferred by cash.

        The day EQ2 does that is the day high end guilds will completely disintegrate. This game will die.

        Reply

  • Yabusame

    |

    I’m glad he ‘made it simple’. English is hard.

    Reply

  • mithreal

    |

    I continue to look for more insight and the reviews of former employees working there has cooled my perspective somewhat. While the new owners CN may be reputation-ally challenged, it’s probably gotten bad enough for everyone working there that a strong hand was needed. If the former employee reviews are anything to go by, the whole culture there needs to change with regard to unqualified or incompetent employees. Many of the people cut were valuable and do we even know how many total have been terminated? Is a lot of the work going to be outsourced now?

    Former employee reviews of SOE

    In the last year I bought 2 CE’s 1 yr prepaid subscription and a stack of SC cards and I am on a tight budget. I spent that money to support the development of a game I love, not to fatten it up for the pickings, but that’s looking back.

    I bought a stack of Krono and it will interesting to see if Krono’s continue to rise or fall. When I bought them on AB not that long ago, it wasn’t hard to get them for 2.5k, but now they are a bit higher on the broker. I think we may have a good idea how players are taking the change by watching the Krono market since few will speak up.

    I’d ask Mr. Smedley to be honest with people in exchange for our loyalty and the clock is ticking. It’s uncertainty that has caused me delay in spending money in the past and that includes paying for my yearly sub last year. I waited to hear some certainty and the clarification of the monthly 500sc sealed the deal.

    I would suggest that DG do something special for the loyal subscribers as soon as possible. Have your new public relations person or anyone in marketing, come up with something similar to the free heroic character that was offered. That probably brought in returning players, did it not? And it was cool for the rest of us that took the offer as well. Maybe give away a mount, 1 per account, call it daybreak thank you or something, maybe hire some more developers and create a new city festival that celebrates a new trading company called Daybreak. I can brainstorm ideas but I encourage you, Mr. Smedley, to respect the player community going forward and get ahead of the uncertainty you have created. It’s not good for my game.

    Reply

    • Missty

      |

      I love ur ideas Mithreal! probably the only sensible comment on the whole page =) I have been a loyal customer of EQ2 for many yrs now and I am happy to see many more ppl r loyal as well…I think there is plenty of room for inspiration in the game and I am looking forward to many more years of fun =) I really believe eq2 is the best game ever invented just a bit sad it was slow in the last few yrs…more devs need to freshen up the game and it will be fantastic !

      Reply

  • Old_Gnome_Yaroop

    |

    Feldon — Thank you for these updates and perspective, and for EQ2Wire.

    For a long time EQ/EQ2 fan, these past few days have been unsettling. There is little information coming from old SOE, but you provide the community with the unvarnished truth.

    Reply

  • milliebii

    |

    http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/236266/Layoffs_sweep_SOE_as_it_transitions_to_Daybreak.php

    Update: A source close to the matter claims Daybreak parent Columbus Nova informed studio employees last week that mass layoffs were expected, but that game teams were “sacred” and cuts would come from divisions like QA and International Operations.

    This source estimates that nearly 200 positions were cut, and suggests that the company may have lost up to 45 percent of its staff.

    Looks like things were a little grimer than we have seen.
    Care to comment Feldon?

    Reply

    • Feldon

      |

      The 45% number sounds right, although development teams were hit hard too.

      Reply

  • Wirewhisker

    |

    It is absolutely true that Columbus Nova honored severance packages for those who were laid off and so salaried employees have time to find a new job, most with several months not including unemployment. CN could have reduced or eliminated this program as part of the deal but they did not.

    Translation: “be glad, we could have treated you a lot worse”.

    The exact same thing was said to me, almost verbatim, 8 years ago when I got to gather with my former company’s best and brightest around a conference room table.

    Reply

    • Betony

      |

      Yep, nearly verbatim was said to us at a former company as well. The big surprise came when a few of us were called in to that same conference table a little later and offered gigs with the takeover company. Most said ‘yes,’ stayed a couple of years and moved on. That company is still around and so are we wherever we went. Ya never know how things turn out.

      Reply

      • Wirewhisker

        |

        Indeed, my ex-company is around as well…but now suffers from drastically lower positive consumer perception ratings.

        Such things happen when you Go Cheap instead of Go Good.

        Reply

    • Eric T Lewis

      |

      Not all companies live up to that promise. I was a cobol programmer, and worked in retail and banking. I been through 3 buyouts. The first two I was promised a package deal if I stayed until our systems were synced up and converted. Only to find myself later with no job and no package. The third company I was with called us in and told us we had been sold. I quickly found another job and did not stay around for conversion.

      Reply

  • Kahonen

    |

    (Apologies for duplicate post in the other, related thread. I saw that one first and realised I should probably have posted here)

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

    Amazing!

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

    Reply

  • Pipsissiwa

    |

    I suspect the ban had more to do with your mention of the class action than asking about CC Security :/

    Reply

  • Kahonen

    |

    I wasn’t aware it would be inappropriate to mention that

    Reply

    • Pipsissiwa

      |

      They’re always twitchy about legal stuff.

      Reply

  • kahonen

    |

    I just tried to log into the game and got a message to say I’m banned from the game as well for 5 days. Reason given is excessive negativity.

    Reply

    • Pipsissiwa

      |

      WTF, you haven’t even posted that much!

      Reply

  • Lynn

    |

    While it is true that the people laid off are usually barred from speaking ill of their former company… nothing requires them to speak of them at all.

    The positive attitudes I’ve seen from people with actual names that were laid off means a lot more to me than the anonymous finger-pointing of someone who, if they even worked at SOE, would not have been in a position to know what he’s claiming.

    Reply

  • Notclownshu

    |

    lol look at Smed trying on his papa bear britches and ‘saving face’.

    Ace Feldon, pure ace.

    Reply

  • Momster

    |

    “. . . your article was so offbase I actually laughed.”

    Anyone else imagine Smed with a Dr. Evil maniacal laugh? With his minions laughing with him, too afraid NOT to laugh?

    Reply

  • Drumstix42

    |

    Smed only cares about his latest projects, even if that means changing focus before a game is even completed.

    I’m sure H1Z1 will see cash shops soon enough, if not already.

    Reply

  • John Claiborne

    |

    I expect that EQNext is a failed project. Smedley has never had an original idea in his life. He is a bully and a tyrant.

    Storybricks had some people with vision and was the only hope for EQ to evolve. I wish Sony would have kept Smedley and possibly sparing us the complete failure of EQNEXT. I know, lets charge people for the privilege of making the game for us which is the Landmark debacle and resulting ghosted fail.

    Reply

  • Honeybush

    |

    In light of this recent DDoS attack which can only be attributed to Smedley’s inability to control his outrage he should be fired immediately.

    Reply

Leave a comment

- Name (required)
- Website (optional)
Please post your comments without flaming or insulting other players or personally attacking SOE employees. Comments from bogus e-mail addresses may be deleted. If you wish to have an Avatar picture, feel free to create an account on Gravatar.com. Once you sign up for a Gravatar account, then any Wordpress-powered blog you comment on will automagically show your avatar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Powered by Warp Theme Framework