Daily Archives: November 19, 2015

The Departure of a False Prophet

Dragon’s Prophet left the Daybreak fold pretty much as it entered; almost completely unnoticed.  I totally missed its launch at SOE and was only reminded that it was even a thing when I noticed its logo mixed in with the other SOE titles.

SOE Live 2014 list

SOE Live 2014 list

So I was late on board with the game, tried it for a bit, and never went back.  I think that was more than what most people did.

Dragon’s Prophet seemed to be the Asian import replacement for Wizardry Online, which SOE shuttered, along with Vanguard, back during the summer of 2014.

Not that it felt like SOE needed a replacement Asian import MMO.

But Dragon’s Prophet was from the same people who did Runes of Magic, an early free-to-play title when it came to the west (perhaps most famous in some corners for the now-it-seems-cheap $10 horse)and one of the few Asian import MMOs that seemed to succeed in getting a decent following outside of its place of origin.

Unfortunately, that did not seem to be enough.  Being from “the same people as…” can be a dubious tie to fame in a market with few recognizable developer names.  Meanwhile Wizardry Online had a history that gave it some name recognition on its own.  It had its roots as one of the great early dungeon crawler RPGs.

Apple ][+ The Upgrades Begin

My Apple ][+ and Wizardry back in 1983…

Granted, the Wizardry franchised moved from those origins through a long and winding path to become a Japanese RPG, but it was still a name that a lot of people knew… even if the current incarnation seemed a bit odd.

Some find me... disturbing

What is it with the little people with big heads in these games?

So Wizardry Online at least had a chance based on name.  It attracted some attention.

Dragon’s Prophet enjoyed no such luxury.  It never even made it onto the SOE All Access plan, a sign for me that its days were numbered.

All the games we say, not actually ALL the games...

All Access: All the games we say, not actually ALL the games…

I predicted back in January that it would be gone by the end of the year, and felt that was pretty much a gimme.

Now it is gone, at least in North America, where SOE/Daybreak was the publisher, removed completely from their web site.

It apparently lives on in Asia, from whence it came, and in Europe, where a company called Infernum Productions is the publisher.  Given their portfolio, Dragon’s Prophet probably means much more to them than it did to Daybreak.

Now, will somebody else pick up the game for North America, or it is just done here?

Will Daybreak try its hand with another Asian import, or was that sort a thing only an affordable luxury when they were snug in the embrace of Sony? Now that they have Columbus Nova Prime looking at the bottom line, it seems likely that Daybreak can’t screw around with science experiments and things that “seem” like a good idea the way they could when then were SOE.

And so it goes.

DragonsProphet450

Did you play Dragon’s Prophet?  Will you miss it?

EverQuest – The Broken Mirror Lands in Norrath

I thought The Broken Mirror expansion was going to go live today… I seem to recall reading the 19th as the date over at Massively OP at some point… but when I went to go check for this post I found that the the EverQuest Twitter feed had already announced the expansion as live.  Memory is a faulty receptacle at best, and my own is more flawed than most.

So here we have expansion number 22 for EverQuest.

Mirror cracked... also boobs

The mirror cracked… also, is that Firiona Vie in a bikini?

I won’t reprise my full commentary about Daybreak announcing that expansions were out and that adventure packs were in, only to change their mind for what I consider a clear and pressing reason.  You can read Tuesday’s post for that.  I’ll just repeat my suspicion that it is all about the money.

The Broken Mirror? Try the broken gaming budget!

The Broken Mirror pricing? Try the broken gaming budget!

Money is important, without it the game goes away, so Daybreak can hardly be faulted for going back to the expansion plan with its $140 option.

Instead I want to go with how SOE/Daybreak, despite their many mistakes… common enough for me to create a “Because SOE” tag for the blog… and the many dev hours they have squandered over the years on dubious projects that never went anywhere… SOEmote and the SOE Launcher spring to mind, while Legends of Norrath remains in some horrible limbo, neither fully exploited nor completely neglected, just lingering in some middle state… has gained, somewhere along the way, the institutional/organizational knowledge of how important expansions are to keeping their player base engaged with their games… at least their EverQuest games.

EverQuest II, which launched less than a month before World of Warcraft, just had its 12th expansion go live.  Not bad for a game that just turned 11.  Meanwhile, as noted above, EverQuest has had twice that many expansions in its 16 years, 14 of which have been launched during the reign of Azeroth over the MMO universe.

World of Warcraft… five expansions in 11 years, with a sixth set to hit just before the game turns 12.

Now, there are more than a few low cards in that 22 expansion hand that EverQuest is holding.  Some expansions arrived broken or had content of dubious quality… especially so during the rush-rush times when SOE felt the world would end if they didn’t have two expansions out every calendar year… but SOE clearly felt a sense of urgency in getting out content.

An urgency you never really get from Blizzard.

An expansion a year though, that seems to have worked out as a decent pace for EverQuest.  I think there can be too many content drops.  I think EVE Online is feeling a bit of a pinch with its every six weeks or so expansion pace, in part because now expansions are not special, so there isn’t the big spike of returning players anymore.

No, once a year seems good for Norrath.  It gives the game new content on a regular basis and has allowed enough time for some major features to be added, things like player housing.  Okay, nobody wants that in WoW, but still…

And you can certainly argue against what I am saying by pointing at the success of WoW.  The population of Azeroth is down… way down… down below half of one time peak of 12 million subscribers, with only 5.5 million hanging around now, and that is still an order of magnitude larger than EverQuest’s subscription peak of approximately 550,000 players back in 2004.  Who brings in a billion dollars a year baby?  Not Norrath!

The flip side of that of course is that Daybreak, with a small fraction of the revenue and player base somehow manages to get out an expansion a year.  You would think that Blizzard would have the resources to move a little quicker.

Anyway, there are many complexities in that comparison, not the least of which is the culture of the organization that makes the games.  But WoW is still the cash cow for Blizzard… to the point that I wonder if their move to stop reporting subscriber numbers was as much to blend WoW revenue in with their other games (like they did when they announced the combined revenues of Destiny, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm) as to stop people declaring the game is dead because it isn’t the biggest subscription MMORPG by a large enough margin… so I still wonder at their sometimes glacial speed.

Thoughts for the day as EverQuest launches expansion 22, The Broken Mirror.