As tends to happen, somebody out on the internet spotted that Daybreak Games has a pair of trademark filings listed with the US Patent and Trademark Office that suggest the company might be breaking up.
If you go to the USPTO site and search on “Darkpaw Games” (which sort of sounds like “Daybreak Games” if you mumble it) and “Rogue Planet Games” (RPG as an acronym surely won’t cause confusion anywhere), you will find a filing for each from Daybreak.
For whatever reason… likely to make one or both properties more saleable to another company or investment group, but it could be other reasons… Daybreak Games looks to be dividing the company into two parts, and it isn’t a stretch to guess which games will end up under a given brand.
Darkpaw Games, doubtless a reference to the famed gnoll who is forever assaulting the gates of Qeynos, or at least to the Darkpaw clan from which he came, looks to be the future home of the EverQuest brand and any future branches of the Norrath related properties. Basically, EverQuest and EverQuest II go here.
Meanwhile, Rogues Planet Games, something of a space theme, gets the other titles, which include PlanetSide 2, PlanetSide Arena, Z1 Battle Royale, H1Z1 (which is what the PS4 version is still called), and DC Universe Online.
I thought a bit about where DCUO might end up, since it is an MMORPG like the EverQuest games. But the fact that it runs on the PS4 and XBox One (and soon on the Nintendo Switch) made me decide that it has to go with Rogue Planet Games. I am sure the Darkpaw Games crew, which is exclusively Windows oriented with the EverQuest properties, doesn’t want that console baggage.
So what does this mean for the two new studios and the games they serve?
I think it will be business as usual for Darkpaw Games. We heard lots of upbeat comments from Holly Longdale and other members of what I call the “Norrath Traditionalist Faction” who, among other things, quashed EverQuest Next, about how well the Norrath games are doing and, on the EverQuest front at least, the player count and revenues have been up since they began to concentrate in earnest on nostalgia and special servers. There was a bit of hubris in there, but it otherwise seemed to conform to what we see from the outside.
One does wonder if the shut down of Player Studio in those two games was part of the traditionalist faction plan or just a deck clearing activity to prepare for this eventuality.
What seems less likely in the future of this Darkpaw Games plan is a new game set in Norrath. The setup seems similar to the Standing Stone Games scenario where the two solid titles were spun out to be milked for as long as possible, but where there looks to be no expectation of new development. This will be good news for the EverQuest and EverQuest II fan base, as they can expect even more focus on their products, but it you were waiting for EverQuest 3 you may be out of luck.
For the Rogue Planet Games side of the house the future seems somewhat less certain, at least from my perspective. DCUO remains solid and was, at least a few years back, the best earning MMORPG in the catalog thanks largely to PlayStation players. Likewise, H1Z1 on the PS4 seems sustainable, or did at one point. PlanetSide 2 has been dodgy over the years, with Daybreak coming out and saying as much back in 2015. Maybe that has changed. It is also on the PS4 now. Also, it still has Player Studio support… for the moment.
PlanetSide Arena is an unknown. It was pushed out to a summer release back in February, and there is still some summer left, but the lack of news about it… always a red flag from back in the SOE days… makes me wonder how it stands.
And then there is Z1 Battle Royale, what was once the PC version of H1Z1. It was handed over to a joint venture between Daybreak and NantWorks with all sorts of esports hoopla, then handed back to Daybreak seven months later after the joint venture failed to make much of the game.
In the game of Kiss, Marry, Kill here, I think you kiss PlanetSide Arena, go full polygamist and marry everything that has made it onto the PS4, and kill Z1 Battle Royale on the PC… and maybe everything else on the PC and just specialize in console games maybe?
There may be contractual issues with that. The company may be required to keep DCUO on the PC due to their deal with DC Comics. And maybe some of the PC versions are worth the effort. But Z1 Battle Royale, that feels like it will be dead before the year is out no matter what happens. It has certainly been getting the silent treatment of late… though you could say that about most things at Daybreak lately.
You might ask “What about mobile?” That was previously mentioned as a destination for both H1Z1 and EverQuest. I have no idea on that front, but I suspect that plan is in the dumpster for now.
And none of this may come to pass. The company has previously applied for trademarks that it never ended up using, which you can still find on the USPTO site.
Either way the long tale of the makers of EverQuest carries on, and at least the game that started it all seems likely to keep going. Like Fippy Darkpaw, it just keeps coming at you… sometimes pointlessly, with a shouted announcement and bad follow up… but it persists all the same.