The anniversary has rolled around again and EverQuest is celebrating its 24th birthday… um… yesterday. Did I miss the date this year? I blame travel and power outages. But still, here we are, an MMO that has been around longer than I have been married. (By about six months.) I mean, the game has been on Steam for nearly 15 years at this point.
Once more Firiona Vie is on another bit of celebratory artwork.
EverQuest, not just the cornerstone of the history of SOE and Daybreak games (I keep thinking about extending that post to the EG7 era), it remains an ongoing and expanding product. Not only is it one of the best earners in the Daybreak stable (DC Universe Online bring in more total dollars, but EverQuest is so inexpensive that its net revenue is something to envy) but it is carrying on. Last year we got a 64-bit version of the game. This year we have a host of roadmap items, including the 30th expansion and a rework of the now decrepit UI.
The 2023 road map for EverQuest
There are, of course, celebrations going on in the game as well. There is bonus xp and special events and some free goodies. You can read all about that here.
And so I mark the passing of another year of Norrath. I wasn’t all that young when it launched, and it has now been around for half of my lifetime.
When I get around to talking about Enad Global 7 and their financials, I am usually quick to point out that the place has effectively become Daybreak Sweden, what with the old Daybreak owners expanding control of the board and putting one of their own in the role of CEO.
His acting career continues
And, of course, the fact that revenue from the gaming side of the business has been pretty heavily dominated by Daybreak in the past has helped sell me on that point of view. They’re running the show in part because they bring in the cash, being responsible for about 75% of the revenue most quarters.
But in the Q4 2022 financials a new hero arose. The Big Blue Bubble studio and its My Singing Monsters franchise has exploded over the last year, delivering amazing growth and the revenue that comes with that sort of thing.
Much reason to sing!
I may never have heard about My Singing Monsters outside of these financial reports, but clearly word is getting around somewhere. Is this another TikTok phenomena?
You can see in their 2022 earnings summary that Q4 just exploded for Big Blue Bubble.
Big Blue Bubble Goes Wild
Meanwhile, the Daybreak chart… and while EG7 keeps talking about all the studios they have, the do consistently roll Darkpaw Games, Dimension Ink, Standing Stone, and Rogue Planet up into under the Daybreak banner… tells a somewhat different tale.
Daybreak 2022 revenue numbers
Daybreak stayed ahead, contributing more to the revenue side of things than Big Blue Bubble, but when it came to profit BBB was at a screaming 60% margin while Daybreak had a meager 21% margin, which is kind of low for a software as a service company, and down from past quarters where it was closer to 30%.
Oh, and even their total revenue dropped in Q4 2022, which I find surprising because Q4 is when at least some of the Daybreak studios launch their paid expansions, so it is when money is spent on games like EQ, EQII, and LOTRO as well as bringing people back as subscribers to see the new content.
In the report they try and wave away the situation by mentioning unfavorable comparisons to conditions during the pandemic, which were extremely favorable for many video games, but that seems unlikely. So while Daybreak brought in 47% of the revenue, when it came to profit Big Blue Bubble was the champ.
Q4 2022 Game Studio Revenue
Of course, I have no sense of how big the My Singing Monsters mania really is. Was Q4 a quirk? Dare we wonder if it was a… *cough*… bubble? Or was it just the start of the My Singing Monsters era?
We will have to wait until we see the Q1 2023 financials in May to get a sense of how durable this performance was.
Meanwhile, Daybreak, despite the margins crunch it saw in Q4, has a pretty steady track record of financial performance. Big Blue Bubble had a big quarter, but that only brought it in line with what Daybreak has been delivering for a while now.
So in the financial report and presentation the company still calls out all the IPs that Daybreak has to back them up. They even keep mentioning H1Z1 on the original IP list, wistfully mentioning how it kicked off this whole battle royale thing as though they feel if they keep bringing it up in conversation we’ll suddenly decide to give it another try. H1Z1 isn’t completely dead, just mostly dead. But there is no Miracle Max around to revive it.
But now Big Blue Bubble and My Singing Monsters has earned its place on the list of valuable IPs that the company has.
Overall, it was a good quarter and a good year for EG7 despite the fact that the Russian invasion of Ukraine forced them to divest from one of their key service subsidiaries, Innova, getting jsut 32 million out of a company they paid 109 million for previously. Then there was Daybreak fumbling on the Marvel super hero MMO thing, which was an opportunity they’ll not likely get again.
The company came out with 559 million in Q4 2022 revenue and 1,865.9 million for the whole of 2022, both number up substantially from 2021. I haven’t bothered to put a currency unit on those numbers because they’re in Swedish Krona (SEK), but the ratio is about 10 SEK to 1 USD, so just move the decimal point over one place the left and you’re at a close approximation of the dollar value.
The company also highlighted that following aspects of the business:
Strong liquidity with SEK 304 million of Net Cash balance as of December 31
Clean balance sheet after the write–down of assets with potential downside risks
Solid momentum to kick off 2023
Having no debt during a time of rising interest rates and cash in the bank is a pretty good way to start the year, especially after some of the rough patches in the last year.
The Daybreak thing now is to have an annual roadmap… and, to actually deliver on the roadmaps they publish. I am very much in favor of that. Not everything on a roadmap needs to be startling or new. Sometimes a confirmation of the existing flow of events… like an annual content expansion… is comfort enough.
But if you’re waiting for a game to do something, like make their UI playable on higher resolution monitors, it also means that you get your disappointment up front and can write off another year of the game as unplayable.
And so it is with Lord of the Rings Online. They put out a producer’s letter with a roadmap and I immediately went there to see if there was anything on the list that might make the game viable on my 34″ 3440 x 1440 monitor.
And the answer was “no,” no changes on that front at all are planned in 2023.
The LOTRO 2023 Roadmap
There is also no mention of a console version of the game, but I have made pretty clear that I felt that was a pipe dream fantasy that was never going to become reality. But I did pin a bit of hope on the fact that if they WERE going to support consoles, they would have to at least make the game playable in 4K resolution, which might mean the PC client getting some benefit from that.
But it is not to be. Not in 2023.
I get that they don’t have the resources that WoW has, that they can’t redo things that are working for most of their current players (and that even mentioning this in the forums gets a very hostile response from current players), and that they, above all, need to feed the content engine to keep their current players happy and spending money or the whole thing will fall over and die.
But I also know they have to keep the game viable for more modern configurations for it to survive. They didn’t put in the effort to get the client to 64-bit for nothing. Eventually making resolutions up to 4K viable for players is going to be a requirement for survival.
And it isn’t as though the team is unaware of this. They they were looking into it back in 2016, but doing something is another matter it seems. Also, its stable mate, EverQuest, is doing work on UI updates, so maybe the LOTRO team could get on board with this some time this decade.
I am happy that the game carries on, that it is getting updates and content and looks good for another year. But I am bummed that it is literally unplayable for me as it stands. The UI seemed poorly thought out in 2007 when the game launched… something I wrote about at the time… and it has not aged well.
On Thursday I wrote about the 2023 roadmaps that Daybreak posted for EverQuest and EverQuest II, calling out a couple of items from each that were of interest to me. On the EQ side of things, one item of particular interest was the reference to a new UI engine, which they plan to start introducing this coming April.
The 2023 road map for EverQuest
Interest in this particular update sparked notice in more people than just I, such that over in the forums the team decided to expand on their plan, at least to a certain extent.
We’ve seen lots of questions about the New UI Engine. While we’re not ready to answer all of them, here are some that we can answer now.
That was followed by a list ot things they chose to share
There’s some confusion around the new UI engine and if we’re doing a port or a revamp of the UI / UX. We are performing a port which means we’re replacing the engine (the part the runs the UI) and not planning to do any changes to the look or flow of any of the existing windows in this phase.
Once we have completed porting all the windows in the default UI to the new UI engine, we have plans to discuss a revamp of the UI / UX.
For people that use the default UI, we’re trying to make it as much like the current UI as possible. That means that ideally, in this phase, it should look and behave like the current UI except for the new features.
Some of the new features that will be there when we do the initial launch are:
Window scaling – there will be a slider that controls the scaling of all the windows that have already been ported. This means if you want to make your UI larger (or smaller) you can use this and not have to use a custom UI to change the size of the text and images. This would be like the scaling of the “Button Size” on hot bars right now or /chatfontsize in the Chat window, but it would apply to the entire UI all at once.
Window docking – each window in the UI can “snap” to the edges of the entire game window and other windows within the UI when moving around the window.
Do note that the features will not apply to windows that haven’t yet been ported and will apply as soon as the window is ported.
The initial launch will only have a part of all the windows in the UI ported. We will continue to port windows throughout the rest of the year. This means some windows will be using the new engine and its features, and others will not.
For people that use or develop custom UIs, this next part is for you.
While we cannot port your custom UI for you, we will be supplying a converter tool. The goal with the tool is to help aid with the porting of your custom UI. We can’t guarantee that it will cleanly port everything for you, but it should automate some of the parts to help you get converted.
The language that the new engine will use is HTML5 based. So, if you’re comfortable with building web sites or pages, you should already be comfortable with the new language. It isn’t fully HTML5 compliant, but a large portion of the language is supported in the new engine.
The specific details of how new custom UIs will mix with the new default UI and the old default and custom UIs will be supplied as we get closer to release on the Test server.
We plan on launching the new engine and some ported windows to Live with the April Update. The plan is to put the new engine on the Test server in March. Depending on how things work out internally it may go to Test with the March Test Update or soon after the March Live update completes. If we can launch the new UI engine to the Test server earlier, we will try to do so.
I have some mixed feelings on this, but I understand the logic of it as well. As somebody who finds the current EQ UI balky and outdated, I would prefer a clean sweep. I have, in the past, written about having Norrath content with a WoW UI being something of a dream.
Well, we won’t be getting that, the focus being on changing the underlying engine and trying to keep the UI consistent with what the current user base is used to, and rightly so. Many a title has foundered by not catering to its installed base. They need to service those who are paying the bills today and worry about people like me much later on.
That in mind, I am also a bit worried about the team killing the current custom UIs. There are a lot of slick versions of the EQ UI out there, and it is probably a surprise to many how customizable the UI has been over the last fifteen years or so. I try to avoid mods, but playing EQ is one place where I have indulged.
The worry is that when you kill off that field of options, many of which are probably now unsupported, there is a big question as to how many will become available after the change over. I am happy that they will support a form of UI customization, and the EQ installed base is nothing if not dedicated, but I fully expect the selection of options to be significantly narrowed.
That said, even with the statement about sticking to the current UI conventions, I am still interested to see what the team will bring to the table when the update lands in April.
I was surprised when Daybreak published roadmaps for EverQuest and EverQuest II for 2022 last January, and all the more so because of how well the dev team stuck to them over the course of the year. So, capitalizing on that success I suppose, they now have roadmaps for EverQuest and EverQuest II for 2023.
The 2023 roadmap for EverQuest
The graphic is nice but I am glad they break it out into some text bullet points for those of us who like that sort of thing. But first I want to call out the highlights for me on the list. They are:
April – New UI Engine Initial Launch
December – EverQuest’s 30th Expansion!
The second was hardly unexpected, but it is nice to be reassured annually that the game is still growing.
The first though, the new UI engine… well, that could be interesting. EQ has gotten UI upgrades over the years, but it is hard to keep things going as time goes on and when you’ve added more and more features… and more and more UI elements to support them. And when I go back to play it takes me a while to adjust to how the UI behaves. It feels like a 20 year old title at times.
EVE Online has gone through something like this over the last year with the new Photon UI, an attempt to create a more modern, supportable, and unified UI. The problem is that it is tough to get it all right on the first pass. Looking at the road map though, it seems that the EQ team has a phased approach planned. I will be interested to see what they have coming.
Otherwise, here is the road map in text bullet points.
Night of Shadows Tier 1 Raids Unlock
Insatiable An Appetite
New Content for Erollisi Day
Night of Shadows Tier 2 Raids Unlock
When One Door Closes
Dance of the Demiurge
Night of Shadows Tier 3 Raids Unlock
The Spirit Fades
The Shadows Move
New Content for Brew Day
EverQuest’s 24th Anniversary Celebration – New quests and a mission.
New UI Engine Initial Launch – Full engine launch with some of the windows ported to the new engine.
New Content for Tempest Festival
New Progression Server (Ruleset “To Be Announced”)
New Pride Month Familiars
Server Merge – Merging Coirnav to Vox.
New Content for Stone Cold Summer
2023’s Expansion Beta + Pre-order
DirectX 11 API port
Extra Life Game Day – Help us raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network.
And, as above, for those who cannot read the tiny print on that graphic, they have also spelled out the whole year in bullet points, which I will list out below.
But what interested me from the EverQuest II roadmap was:
May – Mercenary AI Update
Late November – EverQuest II’s 20th Expansion!
Beyond 2023 – DirectX 11 API Port
Mercenaries, which are pretty much the key to solo play in the last half dozen expansions, get some help. I mean, they’ve already gotten gear and other updates, but maybe working a bit smarter will make them more viable. Or maybe not.
And DirectX 11… makes me wonder where they’re sitting now. I haven’t been paying close enough attention, but is it still a DirectX 9 title? Just asking… because we won’t see that update this year, but at least it is in the plan.
Then, of course, the next expansion, the game’s 20th, which is quite an accomplishment.
Renewal of Ro Raid Zones Unlock
Raj’Dur Plateaus: The Hunt
Sandstone Delta: The Standing Storm
Varsoon unlocks Fallen Dynasty – Explore the Island of Mara and its environs.
New updates to Erollisi Day
Renewal of Ro Raid Unlock
Takish Badlands: The Boundless Gulf
New updates to Chronoportal Phenomenon
New updates to Brewday Festival
Renewal of Ro Raid Unlock
Buried Takish’Hiz: Emergence from Stone
New updates to Bristlebane Day
Game Update 122 Beta Opens
Server Merge: Tarinax to Antonia Bayle
Server Merge: Kaladim to Antonia Bayle
New updates to Beast’r Eggstravaganza
Game Update 122 Launch – New raids, contested dungeon, quests, tradeskill content, collections, Overseer Season 05 and more content for all playstyles.
Varsoon unlocks Echoes of Faydwer – Explore the continent of Faydwer, “borrow” the dwarven brewing kegs in Kaladim and unlock class Alternate Advancement trees along the way. Try not to fall off of Kelethin.
New PvP TLE server
Mercenary AI Update – Mercenaries will more reliably heal and resurrect their companions, and generally react faster, with higher tier mercenaries gaining increased reaction time over their common brethren.
New Live Event Equipment Slot – A new slot for equipment obtained exclusively through live event content.
New large updates to Summer Jubilee’s Tinkerfest
New updates to Patches of Pride
New large updates to Summer Jubilee’s Scorched Sky
Varsoon unlocks The Estate of Unrest, Shard of Fear, and three contested Avatars.
Game Update 123 Beta Opens
Game Update 123 Launch
New large updates to Summer Jubilee’s Oceansfull Festival
Varsoon unlocks Rise of Kunark – Pillage the ancient lands of Kunark from atop a mighty leaping steed with the power of a level 80 adventurer or tradeskiller, wielding 140 Alternate Advancement points to lay waste to your foes.
New updates and a small revamp to Panda, Panda, Panda! – Those fluffy rapscallions will no longer require you to complete all their previous adventures to embark on their latest escapade.
2023’s expansion Beta + Pre-order
New updates to Nights of the Dead
Varsoon unlocks Runnyeye: The Gathering, Veksar: The Invasion, and Shard of Hate.
Extra Life Game Day
New updates to Heroes’ Festival – Celebrate our 19th Anniversary!
Varsoon unlocks The Shadow Odyssey – Slog through the goop in Innothule Swamp to meet the Froglok menace of Guk. Vacation in the pleasant Sauna of Najena, or drink a fine vintage of red wine with toothful friends in the crypts of Mistmoore. Boldly trek with 200 Alternate Advancement points and the Shadows AA tree to assist your travel planning.
Release Date TBD in 2023:
DirectX 11 API Port
So there they are, the plans for Norrath in 2023. Daybreak is announcing plans for some of their other titles as well, including DC Universe Online. But my heart is always in Norrath when it comes to their products.
Welcome to the new year. As 2023 dawns it is likely cold and wet out if it is Winter where you live and you either have the remains of a New Year’s Eve party to contend with or you’re old like me and went to bed before midnight, so probably still have holiday decorations to deal with. I’ll be out taking the lights off of the house tomorrow.
As long suffering readers will know, on the first of the year I do some sort of forward looking post about the coming 12 months. Predictions. Questions. Demands. Something like that. There is a whole history you’re welcome to peruse if you have that much free time.
This year I am going to go with questions. But, I am going to mix it up and put in my answer as to how I think the questions will turn out. That means I need to commit and I can score myself when December rolls around again. As such, my answers will be worth 10 points each, with partial credit possible.
So with that in mind, on to the questions.
1 – Will Microsoft be able to close its deal to acquire Activision Blizzard?
The FTC is suing, which Microsoft says is unconstitutional, though I am pretty sure a courtroom is where one ought to work that out. Anyway, will the deal go through. Yes, I believe it will.
2 – Will Diablo IV hit its mark?
June 6th is the day. I am going to say it will be delayed.
3 – Will Dragonflight hold on to player or will is fall off like Shadowlands?
The initial outpouring of enthusiasm was quite plain when Dragonflight launched. Some people seem especially effusive about there being no “borrowed power” while flying around on their dragons that aren’t usable in any other expansion. But there are always people willing to go all in on supporting any new expansion. (Just as there are people who will find a way to crap all over one.
But there are some warning signs. The fact that you can hit level cap pretty quickly and are then locked into the end-game treadmill seems like a huge red flag to me. Add in that Blizz is trying to sweeten the deal by throwing in game time if you buy a copy for a friend, letting people who are subscribed but didn’t buy the expansion some limited access, and that there regular as clockwork for past expansions press release announcing how Dragonflight has outperformed all past expansions by some metric, and you might be going, “hrmmmm?”
So my first of the year answer is fall off. I feel as though Blizzard has learned nothing, that the “answers” this expansion is trying to provide is to give people pretty dragons and flying from day one while holding onto the conviction that what everybody really wants is to sit at level cap for the next 23 months grinding rep and raiding to get that one drop they really want.
And there is an audience for that. There always has been. But WoW Classic seems to prove that there was also an audience for other things, a message that WoW retail team seems to be responding to by putting its fingers in its ears and saying loudly, “LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”
4 – Will Cataclysm Classic be a thing?
I have opinions about the idea of Cataclysm Classic, how Blizz should frame it, and who might be interested. But I think Blizz has bought in on the nostalgia train and it has paid dividends, so I think that team is locked in on continuing to work the theme. Cataclysm Classic will be announce in 2023.
5 – Will we get anything concrete about Blizzard’s survival game?
Are you kidding? Nothing but vague references in 2023.
6 – Will Daybreak announce something… anything… new?
Expansions don’t count. I mean a new title. They screwed the pooch last year on the best opportunity, a Marvel version of DC Universe Online. So no, they won’t.
7 – Will Daybreak give up on its LOTRO on consoles fantasy?
I think they will. But I also think they won’t come out and say it, that they’ll do their usual routine and just pretend it was never announced and was never a thing and Columbus Nova was never part of the deal with SOE.
8 – What About Ji Ham’s Acting Career?
Ji Ham will continue to be acting CEO even though EG7 won’t put in any effort into finding somebody to fill the spot.
9 – Will CCP be able to hold onto its current EVE Online player momentum?
It was a tough summer and fall for CCP, but once they got the Uprising expansion out, player counts jumped up. But even though they have addressed some long neglected areas of the game, I feel the usual player attitude of, “what have you done for us lately?” will kick in. Also, the 33% subscription price increase will continue to bite. We’re in for some decline and another weak summer if they don’t have anything in the tank between now and Fanfest in the fall.
10 – How will CCP celebrate 20 years of EVE Online?
The ten year anniversary saw a special physical deluxe edition shipped, with a Rifter model (which I still have) and the mystery code (the neglect of which still annoys some people.
For twenty years I doubt we’ll get another physical box. I suspect, instead, there will be a set of special virtual packs with special anniversary SKINs and, if you want to collect the full set it will cost you more than the $99 the ten year box did. CCP will be whaling for the anniversary.
11 – Will CCP reveal either of their other projects?
There is the perennial FPS that they have been working on in London since they had to close DUST 514 and then the mobile strategy game a crew in Shanghai is making. But for 2023 CCP will remain EVE Online only.
12 – More Biomes for Valheim?
There is still the Deep North and the Ashlands to finish up before we can finish Odin’s work. But I bet we don’t get either in 2023.
13 – Are we done with crypto garbage in online games?
In the sense that no studio that isn’t looking to be highlighted as a fly-by-night scam will engage with crypto, blockchain, or whatever, yes, we are done. That doesn’t mean that VentureBeat won’t still be out there shilling for the latest crypto scam or that Lord British will gain an ounce of self-respect or common sense.
14 – What will be the next Pokemon Games?
Remakes of Pokemon Black & White.
15 – Will Meta Horizon Worlds be a thing at the end of 2023?
Yes, but you, I, and the dev team working on it will still not find it worth playing.
16 – Will we see anything like a real metaverse title in 2023?
Lots of visionary talk, but nothing will be online to play. I mean, it depends on how you define “metaverse” these days. You might already consider we have it. But all the current claimants pretending to be building such a thing… and milking investors with the vision… will carry on with empty promises. Alas, even Playable Worlds, which is the most earnest and likely to deliver something in the long term, will just be some more “Riffs by Raph” this year and little else.
17 – Will any of the usual crowd funded MMO suspects go live with anything?
Camelot Unchained, Pantheon, Squadron 42… I’m probably missing a few… they’ll all be no-shows again in 2023.
18 – Will Elon Musk still own Twitter at the end of 2023?
Yes. For all of his mismanagement, the attention he gets feeds his ego in ways no electric car or rocket ship ever can.
And that is where I am going to leave it. That is 180 possible points if I answered my own questions correctly. I’ll be back in December to run down what really happened.
The day has arrived, the next EverQuest expansion, Night of Shadows, lands today.
The Night of Shadows arrives
Night of Shadows is the 29th paid expansion to the game, which I have to think is some sort of record. There are lots of titles out there that put out updates and content drops regularly, but a full blown annual expansion… and it was two annual expansions for a stretch, which is how we get 29 expansions for a game that will be 24 years old next March… but I cannot think of an MMORPG that is anywhere close to this level of effort.
And if they keep doing it, it must be making them money and keeping people subscribed. With Daybreak now running Enad Global 7 we know that the bottom line is primary.
Night of Shadows puts us back on Norrath’s moon of Luclin. Norrath’s leading vampire has been kept at bay, but there is always some new conflict brewing. From the expansion brief:
Norrathians have ended the conflict between Mayong Mistmoore and Luclin herself, but can they relax their vigilance? The recent attention of Luclin has emboldened the Akheva, and they continue their plans to conquer the moon!
As war rages across the surface of Luclin, disaster has befallen Shadow Haven deep below. The mysterious sealed door has been smashed open, and the great spirit trapped behind it has rampaged through the city, leaving death and destruction before retreating to the unknown caverns it escaped from. What maddened the spirits? How can the Akheva be stopped? Can Shar Vahl survive as war threatens to engulf the city? The truth lies in the shadows — will you survive to find it?
And what will this expansion bring to the game?
7 Expansion Zones – Explore more of Luclin to calm the spirits.
New Raids, Quests, and Missions
New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
Tradeskill Component Depot – Your account will gain a Tradeskill Component Depot that can hold 250 stacks of different tradeskill items. You can add slots with marketplace items as you need them! This depot is shared among your characters on the same account and server, like a shared bank. Each of these slots ignores the standard stack sizes and can hold significantly more of each item. Additionally, you can utilize these items anywhere in the world when crafting.
Some of that is the standard fare for any Norrath expansion, but the tradeskill component depot is probably going to make some crafters happy. Inventory management, even with a couple of decades of UI improvements, is still a chore in EverQuest.
Otherwise there is no level cap increase, so it is the other advancement metrics that come into play. The Alternate Advancement page already has more fine print than a rental car contract, but I guess there was room for a few more paragraphs.
As for the seven new zones, I saw somebody post to Twitter an updated map of Luclin indicating where the zones fit in, but I can’t find it. They were somewhere around the Twilight Sea on the old map.
A busy place, the moon
As always, there are the usual version of the expansion available for purchase, from the reasonable Standard Edition to the crazy “give me two of everything and make half of it tradeable in game” Family and Friends edition.
Standard Edition – $34.99
Collector’s Edition – $69.99
Premium Edition – $139.99
Family & Friends Edition – $249.99
The pre-launch purchase bonuses are likely gone, but there is still a 10% discount if you are an all access subscriber.
So congratulations to the EverQuest team! Every time they launch an expansion I feel a slight pang, a desire to go back and play. I am just so far removed from the current game’s meta that it is too high of a mountain to scale.
I do wonder what they will do for next year’s expansion, what we will get for the 30th expansion.
You would think that the EverQuest II team might retain some institutional memory about launching straight into the teeth of World of Warcraft. But here we are, 18 years down the road and EverQuest II is launching an expansion not just in the same month as WoW, but pretty much the day after WoW is launching its latest expansion, Dragonflight.
On the other hand, the days when anybody realistically viewed these two games as being competitors in any but the most vague, genre based sense, are long gone. We had five years or so of “what if” discussions around bizarro world scenarios where EQII came out ahead in that match up. The odds were never going to favor anybody but Blizzard in that fight. SOE made a lot of mistakes, but even if they hadn’t, WoW was going to win big. I mean, they converted a lot of EQ stalwarts.
So the reality is, it doesn’t matter if EQII launches an expansion tomorrow, today, or yesterday. The overlap in customers is probably minimal. A lot of people pick their game and stick to it. So tomorrow Renewal of Ro will launch and there will be a whole new range of content available in EverQuest II.
Renewal of Ro
This will be the 19th expansion for EQII, putting it well ahead of WoW on at least one front.
EQII expansions are a lot more focused than WoW expansions tend to be. They tend to be much more about a change in the scenery, story, and villains and much less about borrowed power, class revamps, and throwing the game up in the air to change things up in an attempt to keep things fresh, a strategy that has not always served Blizzard well.
So tomorrow EQII will go back to the Desert of Flames, the first expansion, to unearth some new tales and explore some additional terrain.
While on a valiant quest to help aerakyn return to their original thread of reality, adventurers find themselves going back to the brutal island of Ro, but this time on the southern half of the flaming desert. Here, with the help of a local tribe of Hizite nomads, they will make their way across the unforgiving Raj’Dur Plateaus, to explore what is left of the Elddar Empire’s cursed city, the long Buried Takish’Hiz, before finding themselves within the renewed Takish Badlands, as they are led into the treacherous Sandstone Delta by the machinations of a notorious foe. They will come face-to-face with Raj’Dur bandits, power-hungry djinn, desert madmen, cursed Elddar, Dunetooth goblins, the Mhyt-moo school of Yha-lei, the Stormfury and Swordfury cyclops clans, and the Ortallian zealots of Ro, not to mention the glorious heroes they will team up with along the way.
The content falls into most of the usual categories. There is no adventure level increase, but the game has several parallel progression paths, so they can skip bumping the level cap.
Rise above the rest with 5 new Ascension levels and spells.
Epic Spell Quests – Embark on an adventure to discover and upgrade an all new powerful epic spell for your class.
Discover new Adventure, Tradeskill, and Signature quests in the unexplored regions of the deserts of Ro.
Conquer all new Solo, Heroic, and Raid content. Return to the flaming desert! Rediscover Takish’Hiz!
That means more of all the things for the regulars. For me, not so much this time.
I do like to go back to the game now and then, and each expansion comes with its own catch up mechanic, so it is possible for me to skip an expansion or two and still get up to speed when the mood strikes me. This time around it really doesn’t.
But Dragonflight doesn’t strike my fancy either, so I won’t be playing either in the near future.
It has been a good couple of weeks to drop bad news while Elon Musk’s gross mishandling of Twitter has been grabbing all the attention on the tech front. You might not have noticed Facebook or Amazon or some other tech firms laying off thousands.
Going around the Twitterverse
And this week’s Twitter fiasco was Elon’s great loyalty oath campaign. The remaining employees had to sign the oath or, if the refused, be laid off. Some huge percentage of the survivors are said to have not signed, leaving critical systems unattended. This caused Elon to panic about sabotage or something and he had the offices closed and the employees locked out like the unhinged oligarch he aspires to be.
Twitter isn’t down, and there is no plan to shut it down, but if some technical hiccup brings it offline, getting it back up and running might not be easy.
Last night on Twitter was like the end of high school, with everybody signing each other’s yearbooks and promising to keep in touch. It is still up today, but the threat looms.
But there are other things going on in the world, and not even all of it is bad. Most of these items I learned about on Twitter, but I am reluctant to link there now. I don’t need any more dead links on the site.
Blizzard and NetEase Part Ways
This was telegraphed in the Activision Blizzard Q3 2022 financials, but it feels like there should have been more emphasis on it if the collapse of the relationship was going to be announced a week later. But the other shoe dropped this week with a press release.
NetEase is Blizzard’s partner in China, which means more than you might think. Doing business in China means working with a company there as a joint venture (a term which always reminds me of late Soviet perestroika) where the local partner holds a controlling interest.
NetEase controls the business that runs games like World of Warcraft and OverWatch in China. If you fall out with your partner you have to find a new one, which can be a convoluted mess in any circumstances, but much more so if it needs the approval of a totalitarian government.
Blizzard has been through this before, so if they want to keep doing business in China they need to find somebody new to work with. Meanwhile, the deal with NetEase expires on January 23, 2023, after which point most Blizzard games will be turned off in China. Diablo Immortal, which was made under a different agreement is the exception in this. The horrible cash grab Diablo mobile game will remain active.
As for why this has come about, NetEase, following the example of its governments diplomatic policy, is aggressively blaming Blizzard and one individual in particular for the parting. I don’t doubt Bobby Kotick is a jerk, but I don’t see any evidence that NetEase is somehow the victim in all of this.
Yes, the dates are September 21-23 in Iceland, which will put Fanfest a good four months past the games 20th birthday, but when you’re booking an event big enough to show a blip on the countries MER I suppose you have to work with multiple factors in order to find a viable time slot.
Early bird tickets are already on sale and should be much easier to obtain that Taylor Swift tickets.
CCP Embraces a Bullshit Metric
When is a bullshit metric even more bullshit? When you use only at its peak without giving any context. I have criticized Blizzard for moving from subscriber numbers to MAUs as a transparent attempt to hide the actual state of WoW from investors, but at least they give us a number every quarter so you have some context.
The game is clearly seeing more players. The daily concurrent user graph over at EVE Offline shows that. The expansion has sparked fresh interest. But those graphs also show the peak concurrent for 2022 landed in January during the Doctor Who event. So what is going on?
Well, as I noted, CCP had a login event with the expansion and gave away 7 days of Omega time to all players, which is a double incentive to login, because you need to do so in order to claim your prizes. So last Sunday may have been a good day, but was it really a “best in the last six years” sort of day? I suspect not.
Anyway, glad the game is doing good, but talking about numbers you won’t share in front of a crowd armed with spreadsheets is always a risky move.
Enad Global 7 Q3 2022 Financials
Things continue to look good for EG7. Daybreak continues to dominate revenues on the video game side of the house. Daybreak executives continue to run the show. Things are going well.
However, the presentation itself was somewhat terse compared to previous ones. Few insights and no future statements or handy graphs about upcoming titles. Just the bare minimum to get by this time around. Which is fine. But that doesn’t give me much to build a post around.
New Pokemon to catch, a new land to explore, and a new adventure to complete!
Nintendo very much has a cycle nailed down for these launches, landing just before Thanksgiving in the US which heralds the start of the holiday shopping season here. Plenty of time for parents and grandparents to buy copies for the kids that haven’t gone out and bought it on day one already. And, of course, lots of holiday free time during which to play.
This time around I am not joining in. My daughter and I played the Pokemon Diamond & Pearl remakes last year, and they were a lot of fun. But I am not feeling it for another new title.
Valheim Mistlands Preview
Finally, the dev team working on Valheim have a game play preview video for the Mistlands biome that we have all been so (im)patiently waiting for. But we’re going to have to wait for it too, because the video doesn’t unlock until November 22nd. Dammit!
I hope there is a launch date in there, but I guess we won’t know until next week.
Anyway, that is what I had piled up for Friday. Bring on the weekend.
I was, perhaps, a little dismissive of the achievement at the time. That was in part because I had only a couple of years before that been involved in the battle of 6VDT-H in EVE Online that saw 4,070 players players engaged in battle, and in part because it was a staged event run by the PlanetSide 2 team for the specific purpose of setting a world record.
It is not that I don’t think it counts if you set that as a goal, but it felt a bit cheesy all the same seen through the lens of New Eden where massive fights occur through player interaction rather than dev team pronouncement.
And, as we learned later, when CCP tried to setup such a record breaking event with their EVE Aether Wars tech demo, targeting 10K live players as a goal, they only ended up with 3,852 live players with a peak concurrent count of just 2,379.
Still, that was a lot of players. Better than an FPS record I might have mentioned above. But it paled compared to what players in New Eden get up to at times.
Anyway, enough snark or whatever. The PlanetSide 2 wanted to set a new world record yesterday to celebrate the game’s upcoming 10th birthday.
A call to arms
The plan was for this to take place on the public test server yesterday. However, the PTS fell over in the attempt, so they moved it to the Emerald server where they managed to get 1,228 players on the server together.
This was another reason I was a bit iffy about the record. Having 1,158 or 1,228 players on a SERVER together is a bit different than having that many players in a single FPS battle. But I won’t quibble, they got the number.
Anyway, after hitting that number they made another run on the Connery server, where they managed to get 1,241 players.
So congratulations to the PlanetSide 2 team. Op success! Everybody who participated will get a special title to mark the event.
Now they just have to get the team at Guinness to validate the record attempt was successful and they will be in the book again.