Category Archives: Daybreak Game Company

Friday Bullet Points while Twitter Burns

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.

  • EVE Online FanFest 2023 Announced

CCP has staked out the dates for EVE FanFest 2023, which will celebrate the 20th anniversary of EVE Online.  And it is going to be… in September?

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.

So when CCP CEO Hilmar Petursson came out and said that EVE Online had hits its second highest DAU count since 2016, there were layers of BS to unpack.  To start with, CCP never tells us MAU or DAU numbers, so how do we know?  Was the day a lot better, a little better, not really better at all?

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.

  • Pokemon Violet and Scarlet Launch

Hey, it is also a Pokemon launch day, as Pokemon Violet and Pokemon Scarlet go on sale today!

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.

Daybreak Stakes a Claim to Another World Record with PlanetSide 2

The PlanetSide 2 team set a Guinness Book World record back in 2015 when they got 1,158 players into an FPS battle.

PlanetSide 2

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.

EverQuest and the Night of Shadows Expansion

Daybreak is getting better at both announcing and presenting their new Norrath expansions, but also being sure that their announcements don’t step on each other lest one drown out the other.  So, previously, we had the EverQuest II announcement of the Renewal of Ro expansion and now we have EverQuest and the Night of Shadows expansion.

The Night of Shadows approaches

The leader for this expansion says:

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?

How many expansion blurbs include mention of attempts to conquer the moon?

As for what the expansion brings with it, the list has many of the usual suspects:

  • 7 Expansion Zones – Explore more of Luclin to calm the spirits.
  • New Raids, Quests, and Missions
  • New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
  • New Collections
  • 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.

No level cap increase, but plenty of horizontal progress to be made.  The Alternate Advancement page already has more fine print than a rental car contract, but this time around there will be more.

Tradeskill Component Depot sounds like a boon for those doing crafting, as inventory management was ever a chore in EverQuest.

Meanwhile, seven news zones on the moon?  It isn’t like Luclin lacked for zones.

Zones on Luclin… make room for seven more

I had a whole adventure just trying to get to the Scarlet Desert on Luclin back when EverQuest turned 20.  We’re going to need an updated zone count infographic when the game turns 25… which will happen in 17 months and a day.

The 2019 census of EverQuest

Anyway, there has always been a lot going on in original Norrath, and soon there will be just a bit more.

The pre-order for the expansion is up now on the expansions page, with the pricing being:

  • Standard Edition – $34.99
  • Collector’s Edition – $69.99
  • Premium Edition – $139.99
  • Family & Friends Edition – $249.99

That matches the pricing for the EverQuest II expansion, though you do not get as much with EverQuest.  There is no level boost with the Standard Edition, for example, as there is with EQII.

On the other hand, level boosts in EverQuest have their own strange story, which Bhagpuss attempted to explain to me about when I was chagrined that the recent increase in the character boost for the game went from level 85 to 100, while the level cap is 120.

There is no boost into the current content, and the team seems to like it that way.

Anyway, the expansion has been announced, details revealed, pre-order opened, and the beta is on its way.

Related:

Level 100 Heroic Upgrades are Coming to EverQuest, but Level 85 Upgrades will Remain

Another item from the roadmap posted back in January, EverQuest is getting level 100 heroic character upgrades in the cash shop next Wednesday.  At last!

Something to evoke heroism I think

If you’ve been around here for a while reading my commentary about EverQuest, you may have noticed my impatience at times with the state of heroic characters up until now.

Introduced back in 2014 as part of the game’s 15th anniversary celebration, it was of immediate interest to me because “insta-levels” as I called them were starting to become a thing.  At about the same time Blizzard was giving us details about the level 90 character boost that was going to come with the then upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion, so it was kind of a topic of the time.

Anyway, at the time I was a little bemused about level 85 being the target.  The booster came out during the reign of the Call of the Forsaken expansion (#20), and the level cap at the time was 100.  85 hadn’t been the level cap since the Seeds of Destruction expansion (#15) and seemed a more appropriate level boost for something during the House of Thule expansion (#17) when the level cap was raised to 90.

But, whatever.  What was fifteen levels?  I couldn’t even find my way to the recommended zone after boosting with one of the free heroic upgrades they were handing out.

However, unlike other titles in the genre, including its sibling EverQuest II, the heroic character boost stayed at level 85 even as the level cap rose to the level 120 mark where it stands today.

Fifteen levels, maybe, but 35 in a game where the level cap rises by 5 every other expansion or so?  I suppose it depends on what the goal of the booster is, but that goal can’t be “get me up to the current expansion.”

And that question doesn’t get much better with the level 100 heroic character boost.  I mean, you do get some nice things for you 4,000 Daybreak Cash ($40 real world value):

  • 25,000 Platinum
  • Selyrah Mount
  • One Extra Mercenary Slot
  • Two 40-Slot Bags
  • Spells
  • Thousands of Auto-Granted Alternative Advancement Abilities (AA’s)
  • Full Set of Equipment, including weapons, armor, Power Source and Charm
  • Food, Drink, and Ammo
  • 200 Bayle Marks

But you’re still level 100, which as I pointed out, gets you to the level cap of the 20th expansion, but the 28th expansion is the current content, and the 29th expansion will be coming out by the end of the year.  That doesn’t leave you as far back as the first level boost attempt by Lord of the Rings Online, that stopped at level 50 when the level cap was 95, but it isn’t exactly putting you in the thick of things either.

And LOTRO at least fixed that later.  EverQuest is putting you behind the curve for $40 again.

And then there is the really odd part, which is that the level 85 heroic boost won’t be going away.  You will still be able to buy that for 3,500 ($35 real world value) and receive:

  • 15,000 Platinum
  • Jungle Raptor Mount
  • Two 24-Slot Bags
  • Spells
  • Thousands of Auto-Granted Alternative Advancement Abilities (AA’s)
  • Full Set of Equipment, including weapons, armor, Power Source and Charm
  • Food, Drink, and Ammo
  • 100 Bayle Marks

I don’t get who this is really for, but there it is.

I guess I shouldn’t worry about it.  I have always been a bit dubious of character boosts, which tend to plop you down in high level content with little or no clue how to play your class.  And that is especially true of EverQuest, where a caster can have hundreds of spells that the game is bad at telling you about and which you must pick through the awkward spell interface.

Seriously, I played a cleric up to level 50 for the 20th anniversary of the game, then got a free level 85 heroic boost and applied it to him, and pretty much made the character unplayable.

So I shouldn’t care about the boost only going to 85 or 100.  Even if it went straight to the level cap I’d be lost all the same.  But I am sure it will be of some benefit to somebody out there.  I wish them well and hope it works out for the game.

Friday Bullet Points about Enad Global 7 and Q2 2022

Nobody said I couldn’t do a Friday bullet points post about just one topic, so here I am.  Future me will no doubt like this post.  And the topic of the day is going to be Enad Global 7, their Q2 2022 financials, and a few related tidibits.

Enad Global 7

There are a few sources of information about their earnings and I will list out all the links at the bottom of the post for those looking for more.

  • Hey We Made More Money

Enad Global 7 reported some serious year over year returns, though that number is helped along by the fact that Q2 2021 wasn’t lighting anybody on fire.  Still, the numbers look good and have been on the rise since that low point.

EG7 – Q2 2022 Net Revenue

Games seem to be taking on a bigger role in the revenue mix, which was about split with services a year ago.  Also, it is about 10 SEK to the USD right now, so you can just divide by ten to get the approximate value in dollars.  I guess that works for Euros now that there is parity between the Euro and the dollar.  For GB Pounds, though, you’re on your own there.

When we look at the game revenue it looks like Daybreak rules the roost, bringing in 75% of that particular pie.

EG7 – Q2 2022 Game Revenue Segments

  • LOTRO hits a Recent High

The EG7 future game plan still rides a lot on Lord of the Rings Online, referencing Amazon’s Middle-earth saga and the coming revamp in the middle term plans.

EG7 – Q2 2022 Looking Forward

They also mentioned that the 15th anniversary of the game raised number of players logging into the game to its highest level since 2016.  It is hard for me to judge exactly what that means.  Sure, more is always better, but was 2016 a benchmark year?  A high water mark of some sort?  Or just a point on the graph downward from the initial free to play conversion numbers?

Left unmentioned was whether the recent acquisition of the Tolkien IP rights by the Embracer Group would have any impact on the future plans for the game.

  • Norrath Expansions

Not that I doubted there would be expansions for EverQuest and EverQuest II.  They are there in the game roadmaps for the year.  But it is nice to get that in writing from the company.  Daybreak… I mean EG7… has changed their minds on things suddenly in the past.

In addition, in the Q&A transcript, the following was said about the expansions:

And the upcoming annual expansion packs for EverQuest and EverQuest II, large updates that perform well every year.

They perform well every year, eh?  That financial insight we got from EG7 before the acquisition, that was cut off in 2020 before the expansions for either title shipped.  I wonder how much that would have boosted their numbers.

  • Done with Acquisitions for Now

The word “organic” comes up a lot in their presentation and the investors call.  Organic growth refers to growing the revenue for their current titles and services, as opposed to driving it up by acquiring other companies.

During the investor call they didn’t say that more acquisitions were out of the question, but they did declare it was a very different market than it was over the last couple of years, so it sounds like they’re not going to be pursing other companies the way they did in 2020 and 2021.

Instead, they will be focused on growing the current titles… and becoming some sort of consulting business or something.

  • Reverse Merger Complete

Finally, one of the big announcements on the agenda was the ascension of Jason Epstein, the second largest shareholder in the company, the the position of chairman of the board, where he will take a more active roll in the overall running of the company.  Meanwhile, Ji Ham continues to hone his dramatic talents as Acting CEO of Enad Global 7.

I speculated last month that Daybreak was in the process of completing a reverse merger, that the company that was acquired was going to end up owning the company that did the buying.

This is what the end game of such a move looks like, with the players in the former taking over key positions in the latter.

All I can says is, “Epstein, you magnificent bastard!”  I did not, however, read his book.

Related:

Friday Bullet Points about Lord of the Rings Online

Here we are at  Friday and once more it is bullet points on my mind.  But I am going to do future me a favor this time and keep it all focused on a single title.  This time around it is some tidbits about Lord of the Rings Online, ostensibly, according to my post on Monday, one of the five titles that I post about most around here.

  • Remastering Efforts

It has been more than a year and a half since Enad Global 7 acquired Daybreak, which included Standing Stone, and the announcement that the company was looking into doing a console version of Lord of the Rings Online.

That idea seemed like a huge lift back then… and it still does today.  I decided at one point that they would really have to build a new version from the ground up for consoles, and made that one of my predictions for 2022.

But we got word this past week that SSG is working on something of a remaster of the game’s graphics and user interface.  And I applaud that.  The fifteen year old game very much feels its age.  The UI was clunky and icons indistinct back when it launched, and in the age of wide screen monitors, it really looks bad when you try to scale up individual UI components.

The problem here is that it sounds like a superficial make over that will fall far short of what it would need to get the game onto consoles.  But maybe they have other plans for that as they are in a period of staffing up to tackle the challenges of a fifteen year old game that has suffered from no small amount of neglect.

Related:

I hope this ends up with an improved experience.

  • Anor Transfers as the First Legendary Server Shuts Down

The LOTRO Legendary server Anor is reaching the end of its time and will be sailing west at the end of the month.  Launched back in late 2018, it was SSG’s first try at a fresh start, nostalgia focused special server.  Readers of the blog may recall that I dove right in and played through the initial content and into Moria before the experience fell by the wayside.

Oversell much?

While I didn’t keep up with it after Moria, I found the initial content experience quite fun and will probably give it a try again some day… once they get that remaster thing above in gear because I have a wide screen monitor now and the UI looks like garbage on it… distractingly so.

But that is another tale.  For now, Anor is going away and if you want to keep your characters from that server you will be able to transfer them off between now and the end of the year.

A FAQ has been posted, which opens with:

The Legendary World of Anor will be closing to public log-in on August 31st, 2022, with the world formally becoming unavailable for log in after our regular weekly restart on the 31st. Through the end of the year free character and shared item transfers will remain available from Anor to any other non-Legendary game world. After December 31st, 2022, the Anor game world will be closed permanently, and any remaining characters will not be able to be transferred or accessed.

I do wonder at SSG’s in ability to do a server merge, the way that EverQuest does when its special servers reach the end of their lives and everybody ends up on the Vox server.  No doubt another example of the clunky nature of LOTRO‘s development.

I have one character I want to save from Anor, I just have to figure out where I ought to put him.

  • Echoes of a Cease and Desist

Also in the news over the last month or so was the private/pirate LOTRO server Echoes of Angmar, which was attempting to piece together the game as it existed in its early days. (Web site archived here in case it goes missing soon.)

A distant echo of a lost time

Having played the game from beta and through its launch, I am not sure I see the appeal.  Maybe my glasses are lacking in sufficient rose tinting, or maybe I like my nostalgia in a light form with some things, like that map of the Old Forest, available to hand.

But who am I to judge?  I have often said that there is no feature so bad that it isn’t somebody’s favorite thing in a game.

Because it was in the news it attracted the attention of Middle-earth Enterprises, which looks after the works of the late Dr. Tolkien and the related copyrights and licensing agreements.  They sent out a cease and desist letter to the team:

Dear Echoes of Angmar team,

We have noted the Echoes of Angmar game that you have posted and we appreciate and share your enthusiasm for the Tolkien works, and specifically for the developers and creators of the epic MMO, The Lord of the Rings Online. Judging from your website and Discord, you are individuals who possess a boundless enthusiasm for LOTRO, J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. We’re here to acknowledge your enthusiasm, and thank you for your fandom. Unfortunately, we, as trademark holders and stewards of the Tolkien works, more often than we’d like, must deliver some potentially difficult news. As your business is using the Tolkien works and trademarks in an unauthorized manner without benefit of a license, we must ask you to cease.

As stewards of the Tolkien works, we take our role very seriously in order to protect the works for all time, on behalf of fans everywhere. As owners of the intellectual property rights, we are charged with protecting those rights both morally and legally. Unfortunately, Echoes of Angmar uses specific content from the books and from our Licensee for The Lord of the Rings Online without the benefit of a license. Honestly, it breaks our hearts to post letters like this one. It is not uncommon for fans to create things reflecting an affection for the Tolkien works. It is thus with a heavy heart that we must ask that you immediately cease all of your unauthorized use of Echoes of Angmar, and all other Tolkien-related IP on all platforms, including Discord, Youtube and on https://www.echoesofangmar.com/.

We welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have on the subject, and wish you all the best in your future duly authorized endeavors.

Kind regards,

Middle-earth Enterprises

I have seen a number of comments about the gentle and even conciliatory tone of this letter, relative to what one sees coming from the likes of Nintendo or Square Enix or Blizzard or Disney when somebody is running loose with their copyrighted material.

And it is true, this is a kinder and gentler approach.  And perhaps that will mollify some fans, as no doubt the company has to issue this sort of thing on a reasonably regular basis.  But the results are the same in the end.  Their heart may be heavy, but not heavy enough to balance out the weight of the pocketbook that keeps them all paid.

So it goes.

Related:

Friday Bullet Points about Daybreak, Plans, and Producer’s Letters

Another Friday in July and time for another bullet points post.  I am going to have to go back and check, but July seems to be the most popular month for bullet point posts here.  My guess is based on my having done the “one year ago” section for the month in review post and seeing that I did four of them last July and the fact that this is my fourth one this month.

At least I have been trying to go easy on future me who will have to write that month in review post in a year by keeping them mostly on related topics in a single post.  And this week it is Daybreak.

  • EverQuest Producer’s Letter

There was a producer’s letter for EverQuest and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the team is still sticking to the roadmap format they introduced at the start of the year.

Classic EverQuest

I fully expect companies to do something like that then forget about it in two months and never reference it again.  But here they not only have it front and center, they took the time to put links in the line items so you could go read about the output of a given item.

There honestly wasn’t much in the current producer’s letter that was of interest to me.  Another special rules server is being retired and merged into the Vox server, the designated home for retro refugees.

But coming up in September we’re supposed to get an update to heroic characters… the insta-level option in EverQuest and EverQuest II… so that they will no longer start off at level 85, where they have been for almost a decade at this point.  The update will raise them to start at level 100… which isn’t exactly stellar when the level cap is already 120, but it is something I guess.

Also, there are some hints about the upcoming expansions… which to me mostly confirms that we will be getting the usual annual expansion.  This year will be the 29th in the series.  How many is too many?  I guess we don’t know yet.

  • EverQuest II Producer’s Letter

As with its older sibling, EverQuest II got its own producer’s letter which also stuck to the roadmap from back in January.  There the update was focused on game update 120, called Myths and Monoliths, which is their big mid-year content drop for the current expansion.

The aging second entry, no longer so young compared to the original

There were also some hints about the next expansion, number 19, which we can expect to see by the end of the year if they are sticking to the usual plan… and I don’t see anything to suggest that they are not.

  • LOTRO and Support’s Packs

Lord of the Rings Online also had a producer’s letter, which drew attention to the update 33.1.1 and the adventures of the sons of Elrond, Elladan & Elrohir.

However, their 15th anniversary plans do not include and expansion.  They haven’t been on a solid annual schedule over the life of the game, so I suppose that isn’t a huge surprise.  But they would still like some money from you, so they have introduced Supporter Packs, where you can spend some money on unique cosmetic items along with some LOTRO points.

The packs are $35, $60, and $100, so it is like buying an expansion, just without the content.

I am not the best person to judge the community reaction, but I got the impression “underwhelmed” might be in the ballpark.

Supporter packs, the departure of some staff, and the emergence of a pirate retro server raised the question What is going on? over at Contains Moderate Peril.

  • DDO and Perma-death Again

Dungeons & Dragons Online… I don’t know if they do expansions or producer’s letters frankly.  I haven’t tried to play it in over a decade.  Put I do see news and headlines about it now and then, and it does come under the Daybreak banner, so I might as well add in something about it.

The latest update is the return of the Hardcore League for its sixth season.  This is a perma-death server experience where players compete to complete as much content as possible while staying alive.  Unlike special servers for other Daybreak classic titles, you do not need to be a VIP subscriber in order to join in on the experience.

As an added bonus, season six has some special dangers waiting for players who might have otherwise mastered the routine in the last five runs.

  • PlanetSide 2 goes Under Water

Now I am really out of my depth as what I know about PlanetSide 2 could be written into the margins of a standard trade paperback book without distracting the reader for more than half a page.

But I can read well enough myself to see that they made a big splash with the Surf and Storm update earlier this month which introduced the island continent of Oshur and features under water game play.

Sturm und Drand

Underwater content tends to be one of the few things to disorient me and give me a bit of motion sickness in 3D MMOs, so I am not all that excited about this, but it does indicate that they are carrying on trying new things with the title.  And hey, it might even be stable by the time this post goes live.

  • H1Z1 Has Absolutely Nothing New

I looked to see what was up with DC Universe Online and H1Z1 to see what they had to report and… well, DCUO is an even bigger mystery to me than PlanetSide 2, but I could at least go to the game’s site and see that there were recent news items and updates.

H1Z1 however… the most recent news item on the game’s web site is from October of 2020.

Remember when this was a thing?

So it goes, another bullet point post comes to an end.

The Daybreak Reverse Acquisition

I mentioned this in a comment a week or so back in the bullet points post where I covered Robin Flodin being bought out of Enad Global 7, but I figured it deserved a bit more exploration.

Enad Global 7

It has been a little over 18 months since Enad Global 7, a publicly held company based in Sweden, purchased Daybreak for $260 million.  That purchase, and the bright enthusiasm of EG7’s then CEO Robin Flodin gave fans of Daybreak’s games hope that more time and money would be spent on them to keep the current and viable.  Plans were announced.

Of course, EG7 didn’t just hand the mysterious, possibly Russian owners of Daybreak a check and send them on their way.  While some of the of the deal was in cash, a chunk of EG7’s stock was handed over to close the deal, giving some of the Daybreak principles an equity stake in the acquiring company.

The company moved along, and the news every quarter showed how big of a deal Daybreak was in the EG7 portfolio when it came to game revenue.

Q3 2021 vs Q4 2021 Games Revenue

Services remained a big chunk of revenue, so it wasn’t all Daybreak.  But a lot of that came from Innova… and, well, that went away in the fallout from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

And then last summer we got news that Robin Flodin was out as CEO of EG7, allegedly due to him being able to answer a question correctly on a news report, just ahead of the Q2 2021 financials announcement.  That announcement included the news that Ji Ham, formerly acting CEO of the independent Daybreak would be stepping up to become acting CEO of EG7, replacing the deposed Flodin.

We also got a look into who the big stockholders in EG7 were when it came to the board of directors.

EG7 board and management ownership stakes – August 2021

In third place on the list was Jason Epstein of Daybreak.  First place was the founder of Innova, and we don’t know where he or his share stand since EG7 divested itself of the company.

Then, at the end of May, Robin Flodin was bought out, with several board members purchasing the remaining 2,446,592 he had in the company.  The statement at the time read as follows:

On May 25, 2022, the EG7 executive team and select board members purchased 2,446,592 shares, representing 2.8% of outstanding shares, from Robin Flodin, the former CEO of EG7. The purchase price was SEK 16.25 per share and amounted to almost SEK 40 million. After this transaction, Mr. Flodin will no longer be a shareholder in the company. The purchasing group was led by Jason Epstein, a current board member and the proposed new chairman of the board who acquired 1.1 million shares; Ji Ham, the acting CEO, acquired 900,000 shares, doubling his stake; and Alexander Albedj, the current chairman of the board, acquired 250,000 shares. Additional participants in the group included the deputy CEO and CFO, IR-responsible and independent board members.

The chief beneficiary was Jason Epstein, who acquired 1.1 million of those shares, followed by Ji Ham, who gained 900,000 shares for himself, boosting the ownership stake of those board members who previously owned Daybreak considerably.

What slipped by my on my initial read was this tidbit in the middle of that paragraph in reference to Mr. Epstein:

a current board member and the proposed new chairman of the board

Jason Epstein may very well be announced as the chairman of the board of directors when we get the next financials update at some point next month.  That, along with Ji Ham remaining in the CEO role, acting or otherwise, means that the management of the previously independent Daybreak now holds the two top positions at Enad Global 7.

Kind of strange, isn’t it?  Maybe?  Maybe not.

It seems quite possible, in hindsight, that Daybreak let itself be acquired by EG7 at least in part to turn a privately held asset into a publicly held company, saving themselves the problem of having to do an IPO in what has been something of a crazy market for the last few years.

And before you dismiss that, if you look up Reverse Takeover, you will find more than a few recognizable companies have done this before.  And if you discount IPOs as a motive, you can find an even bigger list of companies being acquired only to take over the purchasing company.  Palm and Handspring come to mind, where the founders of Palm left, founded Handspring, got themselves acquired by Palm, and ended up running Palm again.  And then they sold out to HP who destroyed the whole thing, as they tend to do.  Seriously, Palm was ahead of Apple on any number of fronts and managed to fumble that lead.

Anyway, does this mean anything to the actual titles in Daybreak’s stable?  Probably not.

I noted a few times that despite Daybreak’s poor PR skills and attempts to gaslight us all wholesale about things like who actually owned the company, that titles like EverQuest and EverQuest II seemed to thrive during the Daybreak era, settling into regular and predictable routines of new content and updates.

Things at Daybreak were not perfect.  They failed to launch a successful new title during their entire tenure as stewards of the house that SOE built, a tradition that has carried on at EG7 with the cancellation of the unnamed Marvel IP title.

So there is no “ah ha!” or “gotcha!” in this, just some observations that make me wonder where EG7 will head now that it seems to be run by the team that brought you all that was Daybreak.

Friday Bullet Points about Daybreak, 64-bit, and the End of the Drunder Server

It is Friday and I don’t have anything worth a full post, so here are a few tidbits mostly about Daybreak.

  • 64-bit EverQuest II

I was actually thinking about writing a full post about this, but there isn’t that much to say at this point.  Server and client have been upgraded to 64-bit, which was pretty much necessary to ensure the long term viability of the game.

There wasn’t a lot of fanfare around the launch.  It just showed up at the top of the patch notes and got a short news item on the site.  But they have done 64-bit upgrades for the other titles in the Daybreak stable already, so it doesn’t seem all that exciting.

The system requirements for the game have changed, and if you’re still running on 32-bit Windows XP then your days of playing the game are over until you upgrade.  But otherwise, just another day at Daybreak.

  • Drunder Goes Under

It seems like ages ago when Daybreak announced the unique “special” server that was Drunder.

Fortress of Drunder is included on the Drunder server

It was almost seven years ago when they hit on the idea of collecting all the problem children together. Anybody busted for breaking the game’s rules wasn’t to be banned, they were to be banished to the Drunder server.  There they could hang out with all their fellow miscreants and reflect on their crimes.  Also, they would get no customer service support and would have to pay a subscription to keep playing.  It was a strange idea.  I wrote a whole post about it when they announced it, with links out to like posts.

Well, the Drunder era is over.  It was announced on the forums that the server was no more.

We are announcing today that Drunder has been retired. This also means all accounts associated with Drunder will no longer be accessible.

It was strange to think that somebody might continue to play, or even subscribe, when they had been banished.  But if somebody was doing so, they can play no longer as their accounts are not longer accessible.

In an ironic twist, the forum message ends with:

Please contact Customer Service with all questions or concerns here: https://help.daybreakgames.com/

Since they were not supposed to get any customer support once banished, I wonder what they should expect now?  Or if there was anybody left to expect anything in any case.  I have a feeling that if the server was active with still paying customers it wouldn’t have gotten the chop.

Related Coverage:

It seems they banned Daybreak accounts and not just the EverQuest II access.  Oh, Daybreak.

  • Robin Flodin Paid Off

This isn’t strictly a Daybreak thing, and it happened more than a month ago at this point, but it has been in my notes to bring up at some point.  Robin Floodin, one time CEO of Enad Global 7 and the enthusiastic face of the company that bought out Daybreak, was bought out of the company.  Per the statement published back at the end of May:

On May 25, 2022, the EG7 executive team and select board members purchased 2,446,592 shares, representing 2.8% of outstanding shares, from Robin Flodin, the former CEO of EG7. The purchase price was SEK 16.25 per share and amounted to almost SEK 40 million. After this transaction, Mr. Flodin will no longer be a shareholder in the company. The purchasing group was led by Jason Epstein, a current board member and the proposed new chairman of the board who acquired 1.1 million shares; Ji Ham, the acting CEO, acquired 900,000 shares, doubling his stake; and Alexander Albedj, the current chairman of the board, acquired 250,000 shares. Additional participants in the group included the deputy CEO and CFO, IR-responsible and independent board members.

A nice payday for Mr. Flodin I suppose, but it does make one wonder if Enad Global 7 really acquired Daybreak or if it is ending up the other way around.  As noted over at MMO Fallout, “acting” CEO Ji Ham doesn’t appear to have an replacement waiting in the wings many months after taking on the center stage role.  One might begin to think that it is less an act and more a fait accompli.

EverQuest Launches the Vaniki and Yelinak Progression Servers

Meanwhile over at Daybreak, after cancelling the Marvel IP MMO… which, again, got more press traction than anything else they have ever announced even when they were saying they weren’t going to do it… and launching the Varsoon server for EverQuest II, they also found time to bring two new special servers online for EverQuest, the Vaniki and Yelinak servers.

Vaniki and Yelinak

Once again we are reminded that EverQuest somehow has the audience to be able to push out two special servers annually, despite being a 23 year old game.  That is the installed base I often reference that can be farmed to ensure the longevity of titles.

The Vaniki server is on the level locked plan, which I am not sure I fully understand, but there is a whole FAQ posted about it, with a timeline included.

  • Open at level 40 with expansions up to Gates of Discord unlocked
  • Four weeks later: level 50 unlocks
  • Two weeks later: level 55 unlocks
  • Four weeks later: level 60 unlocks along with expansions up to Prophecy of Ro
  • Twelve weeks later: level 65 unlocks along with expansions up to The Buried Sea
  • Twelve weeks later: level 70 unlocks along with Secrets of Faydwer
  • Eight weeks later: level 75 unlocks along with expansions up to Underfoot
  • Twelve weeks later: level 80 unlocks along with House of Thule
  • Eight weeks later: level 85 unlocks along with Veil of Alaris
  • Eight weeks later: level 90 unlocks along with expansions up to Call of the Forsaken
  • Twelve weeks later: level 95 unlocks along with expansions up to Empires of Kunark
  • Twelve weeks later: level 100 unlocks along with expansions up to The Burning Lands
  • Twelve weeks later: level 105 unlocks along with expansions up to Claws of Veeshan
  • Twelve weeks later: level 110 unlocks along with Terror of Luclin
  • Twelve weeks later: level 115 unlocks
  • Twelve weeks later: level 120 unlocks

If I do the math right that give about 33 months of life for this server from launch to the final unlock, which after a decent interval, will no doubt be merged into the Vox server, the now standard landing place for special servers that have run their course.

The Yelinak server is a bit more traditional type of progression server, with a couple of new twists, detailed in its FAQ.

  • Ruleset: True-Box Timelocked Progression – New expansions unlock automatically every 8-12 weeks. (Early expansions unlock more often. The specific schedule is below.) Only one EverQuest client may be run per computer.
  • Experience: Progression standard. Starts off slower than live, but faster than EverQuest at the original launch and increases at Gates of Discord, Depths of Darkhollow, and The Serpent Spine.  At The Serpent Spine experience is as normal live servers.

Unlock Schedule:

  • Eight weeks after launch: Ruins of Kunark
  • Eight weeks later: Scars of Velious
  • Eight weeks later: Shadows of Luclin
  • Eight weeks later: Planes for Power and Legacy of Ykesha
  • Twelve weeks later: Lost Dungeons of Norrath
  • Four weeks later: Gates of Discord
  • At this point the schedule becomes consistent. Enjoy expansions for twelve weeks when a new level cap is unlocked, and eight weeks in expansions where the level cap stays the same.

True Box

  • This server starts with standard True Box. Only one EverQuest client may be run per computer.
  • When Omens of War unlocks, we will move to a Relaxed True Box. You may have up to 3 clients per computer logged into the server at the same time.
  • When The Buried Sea unlocks, True Box will be removed.

The “true box” thing seems to be an admission that a lot of people start off on these servers on day one… they often have queues to get logged into them… but that the population starts to fade as time goes on.  So no multi-boxing when the population is high, but as it tapers off… well, then few are likely to care if you three box, then six box I guess.

Likewise, the experience starts off slow and gets loosened up as the expansions unlock, so that by the time you get to The Serpent’s Spine (fall 2006) you’re working with the live server experience table.

Anyway, both servers were off and running… um… Thursday.  I am a couple of days late on this I guess.  But there is still time to catch up.  A lot of people don’t even start until the first weekend hits, knowing that the first 24 hours of any Daybreak launch is often fraught with misadventure.

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