Daily Archives: March 16, 2021

EverQuest at a Crossroads as it Turns 22

In the US at least, your 21st birthday is generally your last achievement “happy to get older” birthday.  At that point you can drink, smoke, gamble, and do whatever, where allowed.

Turning 25 used to be a bit of a goal.  There were a couple quiet unlocks, like the ability to rent a car without it being a huge hassle, that came with the age, but some of those have passed away since I turned 25.  Then, after most of your life looking forward to being older, there is often some euphoria momentum left.  But at some point you realize that you’re just getting old and the years begin to weigh on you, and you start to feel your age and wonder if it wasn’t a mistake to be in such a hurry to get there.

So there are no fun analogies for EverQuest turning 22 today.  Their official Discord channel still has the 20 year anniversary logo up, which kind of proves my point I guess.  That is a hell of a run, but like me, the game does show its age as soon as you look at it.

There is, of course, still a celebration.  A Producer’s Letter has been posted and there will be bonus XP and new quests and prizes, including an extremely tall hat.

The Othmir Fez

Even though the game’s youth is behind it, EverQuest is still moving ahead, still holding players and making money according to insights we received late last year.

Page 15 – Year to Date numbers as of Sep. 30, 2020

It is also the most profitable game in Daybreak’s portfolio.

Page 16 – Revenue and Earnings compared YTD through Sep. 30 2020

Not bad for a game that old.  A solid title and certainly in no danger of getting the SOE sunset treatment.  Enad Global 7 continues to highlight Daybreak titles in their presentations even as the continue scooping up more studios.

6 out of 8 of those are from Daybreak

However, happy talk and banner positions can only take you so far.  The game’s future lays with its new Swedish masters, and we don’t really know what that means yet.  We’re still in the honeymoon period.  It has been just over three months since the acquisition of Daybreak was announced, and that only closed at the end of December.  That isn’t a lot of time to have an impact… or a positive one.  There has been plenty of time to get the Gamigo treatment of slashing staff and crushing expectations, so perhaps we can breath easy on that front for the moment.

The question still remains about what the future holds for EverQuest and other titles in the Daybreak stable.  The Daybreak era was something of a trauma at times for some titles.  There was the bloodletting at SOE that was, in hindsight, a clearing of the decks for the sale of the division, the cancellation of EverQuest Next and the closing of Landmark, and the fumbling of H1Z1 after they briefly had a hit on their hands, along with the lies, half truths, and long awkward silences that became the hallmark of the Jason Epstein team.

But, in that era, the Norrath team quietly flourished.  There was an initial stumble when the declared an end to expansions in favor of smaller bites of DLC in the form of adventure packs, but community push back got annual expansions back in the plan.  And since then they have chugged along putting out an expansion for both EverQuest and EverQuest II every Q4 along with mid-cycle game updates and holiday revamps and special servers.  The time hasn’t been without its missteps… a vocal core of EQII fans remain a surly and restive bunch… and there have been layoffs and server issues and games down for a couple or days, but for the most part the games have carried on doing what they do without any real fear that they’ll be closed or reworked in some crazy, right angles to reality sort of way.

Let me reiterate: A paid expansion every year for both titles.

That is kind of an amazing rate of content growth in the genre.  EverQuest has had 27 paid expansions, and EverQuest II has had 16. (I don’t think Age of Discovery, which brought in free to play, was a paid expansion.  Was it?)

Companies don’t keep doing that unless they are making money on it.  Having the luxury of doing expansions is a sign of success, and not a lot of other titles have even come close.

So the question is whether or not EG7 will continue down that path, perhaps nurturing the Norrath titles to allowing them some additional resources for projects to enhance and update the aging titles.

Or does EG7 have other plans?

Their jump into video games through acquisition has an end goal somewhere beyond “let’s be a company that owns a bunch of video game studios!”  Some bright person in the board room has a series of steps up on a white board that ends with, “Profit!”

I assure you, somehow these add up to “Profit!”

What does this mean for Norrath?  The latest EG7 purchase was of Innova, a company that localized MMOs for the Russian market and runs a number of them there.  That seems like a move to expand more of their titles there, though EQII at least already has a Russian server. (Did Innova do that work?)

And even that seems like a stepping stone, not an end goal.

One has to wonder if the golden age of EverQuest might be over or if some new horizon beckons that will see it flourish even more so.  People are usually done growing by the time they turn 22, at least in physical height, and video game years are more like dog years than people years, making EQ a very old game indeed.  We will have to see if EQ7 has a fountain of youth up its sleeve or if the retirement home might be in the offing.  The Gamigo route is always a threat.