EverQuest Next and the End of the Classic MMORPG

Well, that didn’t take long.

Just a couple weeks back I was on the Couch Podtatoes Podcast where we were talking about Daybreak’s first year.  Izlain and I were both very happy with how things seemed to be going with the classic Norrath team, EverQuest and EverQuest II.  They seemed to have had a great first year, even with a couple of initial stumbles.

However, we were both concerned about EverQuest Next.  We hadn’t heard anything about it lately.  Certainly nothing of note had come up since I marked the passing of the five year anniversary of the title’s initial announcement back in September.

Firiona Vie makes it to 2013

The Firiona Vie we’ll never know…

Well, the silence is over.  Just a few days shy of EverQuest’s 17th anniversary, Daybreak has a post up from Russell Shanks, the President of Daybreak Games, announcing the demise of EverQuest Next.  Quoted for posterity:

To Our Daybreak Community,

I’m writing today to let you know that, after much review and consideration, Daybreak is discontinuing development of EverQuest Next.

For the past 20 years EverQuest has been a labor of love. What started as a deep passion of ours, as game creators, grew into a much larger passion shared by you, millions of players and Daybreakers alike. Watching EverQuest’s ability to entertain and bring people together has inspired and humbled us. It’s shaped our culture and has emboldened us to take aggressive risks with our game ideas and products. When we decided to create the next chapter in the EverQuest journey, we didn’t aim low. We set out to make something revolutionary.

For those familiar with the internals of game development, you know that cancellations are a reality we must face from time to time. Inherent to the creative process are dreaming big, pushing hard and being brutally honest with where you land. In the case of EverQuest Next, we accomplished incredible feats that astonished industry insiders. Unfortunately, as we put together the pieces, we found that it wasn’t fun. We know you have high standards when it comes to Norrath and we do too. In final review, we had to face the fact that EverQuest Next would not meet the expectations we – and all of you – have for the worlds of Norrath.

The future of the EverQuest franchise as a whole is important to us here at Daybreak. EverQuest in all its forms is near and dear to our hearts. EverQuest and EverQuest II are going strong. Rest assured that our passion to grow the world of EverQuest remains undiminished.

Yours truly,

Russell Shanks
President, Daybreak Games

And so it goes.

EverQuest Next follows The Agency into SOE history, games that were shown and hyped and which got people excited, but which never got there.

The irony here is that I could swear at one point that Smed said, after the launch and rather tepid response to EQII, that MMO sequels were a mistake.  And yet there was EverQuest Next, a placeholder name that became the real name for the game that never was.

I know what I wanted out of it, what a lot of people wanted out of it.  I wanted classic Norrath, lore and places and things I knew and loved, mixed in with some new dynamic that would make the genre feel fresh again.  That’s it, just an impossibly perfect mix of the new and the unknown, the fresh and the familiar.  That’s all we wanted.

And SOE seemed to be on the case at times with a story about a dynamic world and voxels and that whole Storybricks AI thing and updated stylized graphics.  People were excited after a couple of those SOE Live presentations.  I know I was.

Then, in that SOE way, things would go quiet, all the hype would peter out and we would be left wondering what was happening.  As with The Agency, the quiet turned out to be for a reason.

So what happens now?  Is this the end of the road for the classic Western PvE focused fantasy MMORPG?  Is the lineage of Diku MUD dead now?  Should we be happy or mourn its passing?

Because, as I mentioned in my previous post, it isn’t like EverQuest itself is gone.  It and EverQuest II are still there and chugging along and keeping the core fans happy and generally refusing to die… which is part of the problem when you want to introduce a replacement.  That was certainly what happened with EverQuest II.  The genre may be in jeopardy, and there may now be nothing in the pipeline that really represents how we got here, but the individual MMORPG is a tough beast to kill.

So, to sum up the life of EverQuest Next, here is the tale as I have traced it over the last five and a half years:

At least I will never have to see the UI they had in mind to run the game on both Windows and PlayStation 4.  Dodged that bullet.  But what will I spend all that Station Cash on now?

Of course, this announcement is kind of a big deal in our little corner of the web.  So here are some other people posting about the EverQuest Next news:

I will add more as I see them.

16 thoughts on “EverQuest Next and the End of the Classic MMORPG

  1. bhagpuss

    On balance I read it as good news. I would have played EQNext, of course, but I have no love for action rpgs and I was expecting something barely recognizable as an Everquest MMORPG. The whole destructible world/voxel aspect always seemed nuts, as did the parkour movement. I guess we’ll see the remnants of that in Landmark, a game that I have some affection for still and which I will almost certainly play more when I finally upgrade my PC and have a system that can handle it.

    Looking ahead, perhaps the EQ and EQ2 teams will get at least a couple of their old devs back. They’ve both been doing a fantastic job post-SoE with extremely limited resources and this can only be good news for them. I do wonder about Holly’s workload now she’s in charge of Landmark too, though.

    What with the final withdrawal from open world PvP it looks as if the shadow of Smed is finally lifting for good. I’d love to think we might now get some new EQ franchise products that are less ambitious but more suited to both the market and the company’s resources. A mobile game surely isn’t out of the question?


  2. Izlain

    It’s ironic that our conversation happened so near to this big news. We were both really curious as to what was going to happen, and optimistic about what could be, and now the writing is on the wall.

    They sound like they are interested in some new Everquest product, but will it be too late at that point? I’m sad to see this happen because I was holding out that some day I’d be able to visit a new version of Norrath. It’s not impossible, but it doesn’t seem likely at this point. We need some talented modders to take up the reigns and give Norrath a fresh coat of paint.

    I have a post of my own incoming.


  3. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Bhagpuss – As I alluded in the post, a lot of people were projecting their dreams on the whole project, and the more we saw of it the less satisfied people started to become, I think it was in its ideal state for a few hours after that first SOE Live presentation about it.

    I am still mixed on Smed. Without him there would likely be no EverQuest as we knew it/know it. On the other hand, he did have his PvP agenda which, as I noted earlier in the week, ended up with mostly nothing for the effort when it came to Norrath.


  4. Jenks

    Sadness, but once I realized what Daybreak was I was sure this was coming.

    I would bet a lot that this was decided before SOE was sold, and Daybreak paid bottom dollar for a stable of older middling MMORPGs and a bunch of assets for a game that was already all but cancelled. Nothing I’ve seen indicates that they are anything more than a caretaker, certainly not a company capable of developing on the AAA level that EQN needed to be.

    “At least I will never have to see the UI they had in mind to run the game on both Windows and PlayStation 4. ”

    Did you play FFXIV’s, and if so did you find its UI to be that horrible? I thought the interface was so well done that I chose to play it on a gamepad on my PC.


  5. tyrannodorkus

    I can still remember watching their live announcement secretly at work about EverQuest Next and that hokey sand story thing being made as they were going on about it. I was on board day one and sad to see it cut down before it had a chance.


  6. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Jenks – “Did you play FFXIV’s, and if so did you find its UI to be that horrible?”

    No, but I played DCUO on Windows and found the compromise console focused UI to be annoying.


  7. Jenks

    I didn’t try that one, but I guess that is more relevant since it’s from the (sort of) same developer.

    I will say if you ever want to see how good a UI for a traditional MMORPG on a console can be, try FFXIV. Playing on PC and swapping to the gamepad UI will gave you the same experience.


  8. Athie

    I think this one really has to be on Smedley. He managed the development of this project for *years* across multiple iterations and never managed to come up with something good enough for release — even by the H1Z1^2 Daybreak team. That’s tragic, and in all likelihood pretty much the end of the line for the EQ franchise. Sad face.


  9. Pingback: Everquest Not Next – I HAS PC

  10. Wlad

    Now that EQN is gone, what I’d love to see is EQ2 redone in EQN’s engine. Don’t change the content or systems (OK, maybe re-itemize), just update the engine and graphics. And release it as “Norrath”.

    I’d be all over it.



  11. NetherLands

    Sad to hear though not entirely unexpected. I do hope we will see the Storybricks/evolving AI campaign world aspect in another game with lots of races, though am also happy the action-combat is off the table, too.


  12. Isarii

    As soon as SOE was sold to a private equity firm, I knew it in my gut that Everquest: Next was dead. My brain didn’t want to catch up, of course, and my heart lagged even further behind, but private equity is ultimately more interested in the extraction of cash through management fees than building products.

    It is what it is, but I really, really wish Storybricks had been able to raise the funds to acquire SOE like they initially wanted to. It would have saved the game and its purity of vision at the same time, I imagine.


  13. jtnix (@jtnix)

    Totally glad about this, but..
    wait, what? Bhagpuss, are EQ Landmark and EQ Next are not the same thing?

    I just wish they’d entirely fix up the EQ1 gameland with latest rules, all zone gfx upgrades (I mean, they’re almost halfway there!), fix the broken quest system for all quests, plonk down a few hundred new ones that make sense and ditch half a dozen of the worst add-ons (including their dysfunctional mythology) and… bring back corpse runs! Some how, some way.. make it REAL again!
    That could be EQ Next for me, only rebranded EverQuest Real. Now that I’d pay for!
    But I won’t pay for time-locked progression replays – I did that once already, and it cost me plenty.


  14. Kyff

    I’n not too surprised and not too sad. Nothing I heard about EQN I liked. Voxels I could live with. The characters didn’t look like anything I would want on my monitor. The whole Idea of being able to destroy the world which then regrows seems pointless. The video of Mr. Georgeson explaining how he would “release a band of orcs into the world” seemed so improbable that I was wondering why everyone did applaud. Finally I also disliked the movements and fights in the videos. The term action action rpg is quite fitting. And thet’s nothing I would buy into anyway.


  15. Pingback: Back! EQ Next, Wildstar, Twitter | GamingSF

Comments are closed.