Category Archives: EverQuest

My Singing Monsters Continues to Dominate Enad Global 7 Revenue in Q1 2023

The Enad Global 7 financials dropped last week and, as was the case in Q4 2022, Big Blue Bubble’s title My Singing Monsters was the big draw for the company.

Enad Global 7

The investor’s report for Q1 2023 said the following about My Singing Monsters:

MSM delivered elevated performance throughout the quarter. As of the end of Q1, MSM had amassed 8.5 billion hashtags, 268 million video views, and 1.9 million followers on TikTok, continuing to expand its fanbase.

I still am unsure how the game, which has been around since 2012, took off late last year or if the social media coverage was the trigger or just an effect of the suddenly popularity.

So once again, Daybreak is relegated to second place in earnings when it comes to the EG7 games business segment.

Q1 2023 – Games segment revenue

It isn’t that Daybreak is failing to deliver.  Its titles remain as solid as ever.  It is just that My Singing Monsters has lit up and is suddenly way more popular than it has ever been over the last decade.

Daybreak remains solid while BBB was suddenly more than 4x expected

And BBB’s income has a lot higher margins, even before the big jump in sales, which probably reflects the difference in effort to support essentially one mobile/PC title versus running, supporting, and creating new content for half a dozen MMOs.

EG7 cautions that it may not stay that way, but says that it expects that its baseline performance will remain elevated going forward.  My Singing Monsters is one key brands that the company owns, the list of which was given as:

  • EverQuest, considered to be one of the three most iconic fantasy MMO brands in the world together with World of Warcraft and Ultima Online.
  • H1Z1, the very first battle royale game that was credited as one of the inspirations for Fortnite, with over 40 million life-to-date (LTD) registrations.
  • My Singing Monsters, which has over 135 million (LTD) registrations on mobile and PC, reaching top 10 in over 100 countries in the App Store games category and the No. 1 spot in more than 15 countries 10 years after its release.

I am still not sure how they can put H1Z1 on that list with a straight face.  They are doing nothing with it, have announced no plans to do anything with it, and appear to be just waiting for some sort of magic to happen.   I supposed lightning striking My Singing Monsters gives them hope.

Aside from the caution about My Singing Monsters, when it came to Daybreak the report mostly emphasized the EverQuest 24th anniversary, the DC Universe Online 12th anniversary, and next year’s 25th and 20th anniversaries for EverQuest and EverQuest II respectively.

Mention of other Daybreak titles was limited to pointing out that some of them represented strong licensed IP opportunities.  Lord of the Rings Online, specifically, received no special mention.  The timing of the earnings release put it before Amazon’s announcement that they are working on a Middle-earth MMO of their own once more, so there was no expectation that we would hear anything about that.  It may, however, get some notice with the Q2 2023 results.

Overall it was a positive report.  It opened with record earnings.  Also the company reports it remains debt free, has cash on hand, and is focused on long term profitability.  The joys of being a modest sized public company registered in Sweden I suppose, because if some Wall Street investment group was running the show they would be demanding stock buy backs and stripping it for quick cash boosts without thought towards the long term.


EverQuest at 24

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.

Getting drunk with dragons

I think I ran out of things to say about the game back at the 20th anniversary, but time never stops and apparently neither does Norrath.

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.


Enad Global 7 Celebrates My Singing Monsters in their Q4 2022 Financials

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:

  • Debt free
  • Strong liquidity with SEK 304 million of Net Cash balance as of December 31
  • Clean balance sheet after the writedown 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.


Musing on the Walls that Age Brings to MMOs

You can’t go home again.

-Thomas Wolfe, title of one of his posthumously published novels

That quote, expanded on at the end of the novel, is meant to warn that you cannot return to a previous time in your life, that the pull of nostalgia is a false promise tainted by the fact that memory tends to emphasize the good and diminish the bad.  There is no happy past state to return to, just a different set of problems.

It is an argument against dwelling in the past.  And yet here I am, headed down that path again.

Today, however, I am going to try to avoid pining for some past idyllic state of vanilla WoW or launch day EverQuest or EVE Online before warp to zero was a thing.  Instead, I was thinking more about the barrier that change and progression and expansions and the long term effects of an economy of endless faucets does to a game over time.

I’ve bemoaned at times Blizzard’s inability to launch and expansion in anything less than a two year cycle, but sometimes it seems like as much a blessing as a curse.

At the end of last year WoW launched its 9th expansion.  But EverQuest, which is just five and a half years older than WoW, will kick off its 30th expansion by the end of 2023.

Thirty expansions.

And even though the EQ team doesn’t throw every class and mechanic in the air with every expansion the way WoW tends to, every expansion, every new layer of content, changes the game.  EQ has such a giant mountain of content and such a vast world that it is difficult to even figure out where to go.

That is a lot of walking

Norrath has expanded to such an extent that even the in-game guides that try to direct players where to go can barely communicate how to reach your destination.  See my adventures trying to reach the Scarlet Desert a couple of years back.

Meanwhile the game has to make some concessions to new players, so the climb to level 50 or 60 or 90 no longer take as long as they did when those were the caps on the game.  So the play through is… not very much like it was back in the day.

That can be both good and bad.  EQ has added a tutorial for new player, which I rather enjoy when I go back to the game.  The problem is that after you leave it the game doesn’t live up to the promise of the tutorial.  While the experience can be much more directed than it used to be back in the day, it is still isn’t a well lit path, so it being speedier is probably something.

And, on top of all of that, there is the economy.  I always laugh when I go back to EQ to try and play because you get copper coins as drops, but more than 20 years of mudflation has had its impact on the economy so it is like, say, minimum wage staying where stuck in time while prices rise constantly.  The players at that end of the scale aren’t able to afford much.

Okay, EverQuest (and Ultima Online) are probably the extreme examples in this scenario, titles with more than two decades under their belts.  They still carry on, but they feel like places that cater to a very specific and entrenched installed base who will stick with the games until either it or they pass away.

And WoW isn’t that far behind, coming up on 19 later this year.  Standing in 2023 it is objectively not that much younger than those other two titles.  And Blizzard has tried to fight that eventual barrier to entry that is created by longevity, though not always successfully.

A slower expansion cadence helps.  You can take a year off and not feel completely out of touch with the game.  But other things they have done… I remain mixed about the level squish that came in before Shadowlands.  I will grant that it provides a less chaotic path to level cap, at least potentially, than the past need to climb through each expansion, though the constant adjusting down of the level curve meant you barely got very far in any old expansion before the next one was within range.

These are example of older titles, but no title is getting any younger.  Any MMO that lasts beyond a few years seems destined to either hang on for decades, even if it means getting bought out and milked for the last few ounces of profit it can provide.

So, while I am just meandering in text at the moment, I do wonder what lessons newer titles, maybe Lost Ark or New World, if the latter can hold itself together, should learn… or probably should have learned before they launched… to be more sustainable over time.

Is there something EQ or UO or WoW could have done along the way that would have made them more approachable in their second decade?  Are retro or or progression or fresh start servers the sort of renewal process that helps maintain longevity?

Or am I fighting against the quote I threw in at the top of the post?  I put it there more as a warning to myself, but I always somehow manage to bypass my own advice.

The EverQuest Team Expands on their UI Engine Roadmap Update

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.

EverQuest and EverQuest II have a Roadmaps for 2023

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.

  • January:
    • Night of Shadows Tier 1 Raids Unlock
      • Insatiable An Appetite
      • Pit Fight
      • Mean Streets
  • February:
    • New Content for Erollisi Day
    • Night of Shadows Tier 2 Raids Unlock
      • When One Door Closes
      • Myconid Mutany
      • Dance of the Demiurge
  • March:
    • Night of Shadows Tier 3 Raids Unlock
      • The Spirit Fades
      • The Shadows Move
      • Under Siege
    • New Content for Brew Day
    • EverQuest’s 24th Anniversary Celebration – New quests and a mission.
  • April:
    • New UI Engine Initial Launch – Full engine launch with some of the windows ported to the new engine.
  • May:
    • New Content for Tempest Festival
    • New Progression Server (Ruleset “To Be Announced”)
  • June:
    • New Pride Month Familiars
  • July:
    • Server Merge – Merging Coirnav to Vox.
  • August:
    • New Content for Stone Cold Summer
  • October:
    • 2023’s Expansion Beta + Pre-order
    • DirectX 11 API port
  • November:
    • Extra Life Game Day – Help us raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network.
    • New Content for Feast of Giving
  • December:
    • New Content for Frostfell
    • 2023’s Expansion Launch – EverQuest’s 30th Expansion!
  • Throughout the Year:
    • Porting More Windows to the New UI Engine
    • Zone Performance Improvements
  • Release Date TBD in 2023:
    • Guild Tradeskill Depot

EverQuest II

The 2023 roadmap for EverQuest II

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.

  • January:
    • Renewal of Ro Raid Zones Unlock
      • Raj’Dur Plateaus: The Hunt
      • Sandstone Delta: The Standing Storm
  • February:
    • 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
  • March:
    • 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
  • April:
    • 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
  • May:
    • 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.
  • June:
    • 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.
  • July:
    • Game Update 123 Beta Opens
  • August:
    • 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.
  • September:
    • Expansion Prelude
    • 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.
  • October:
    • 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.
  • November:
    • Extra Life Game Day
    • New updates to Heroes’ Festival – Celebrate our 19th Anniversary!
  • End of November:
    • 2023’s Expansion Launch – EverQuest II’s 20th Expansion!
  • December:
    • New updates to Frostfell
    • 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:
    • Swag Store
  • Beyond 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.

Reviewing My 2022 Predictions

We are back once again for another review of some really bad predictions I made at the start of the year.  I have engaged in an almost annual experiment in proving how wrong I can be about the future for a good fourteen years now.

2022 is what we get

While we are still a good two weeks shy of the new year in my book, if it hasn’t come to pass by December 15th, it probably isn’t going to happen.  So it is time to see how off base I was.

As usual, I will score by giving myself 10 points for each correct prediction, with partial credit available… because I often write rambling predictions with multiple points of contact.

Looking back at the questions from the start of the year… well, I seemed to be in something of a mood, especially about EVE Online.  Though not without reason on that front.  After declaring an “age of prosperity” they went and announced a plan to keep the economy strangled going forward.  “Prosperity” was nowhere in the cards they were dealing out.  But I was also moody about a few other companies.

Anyway, let’s get to the scoring.

1 – Activision-Blizzard will drop “Blizzard” from the Corporate Name

I backed myself into this one, having made a declaration about this in August of 2021, when it seemed as though the company could sink no lower in its scandal ridden tales.  It seemed like they had run the name through enough mud that it might be time to go back to Silicone & Synapse.

But it did not come to pass.

Now, I could make excuses about how the Microsoft acquisition, which showed up less than three weeks after my predictions, locked everything in place, so no major name change was likely to occur… but, in hindsight, no name change was likely to happen either way.  When you have Bobby Kotick at the helm, Blizzard would have to work a lot harder to eclipse the stink on him.

Zero points.

2 – No WoW Expansion in 2022

Man, I was not on a hot streak for 2022 was I?

Okay, this one did not look that outrageous a year ago.  Blizzard seemed to be in disorder, Shadowlands was flailing about without content updates, and there was some word about retooling their approach.  It seemed likely that they wouldn’t get out an expansion this year.

But they managed it.  The jury is still out on Dragonflight… I mean, I loved Shadowlands for about a month, before I found the quick trip to level cap meant and endless endgame treadmill… but it launched at the end of November and is still running along.  I haven’t seen the traditional glowing “current expansion exceeds all past expansions” press release about any sales metric yet.

In the end though, even if it dies in a month, they still shipped an expansion.  Zero points.

3 – The Arthas Hail Mary

I’m going to have to quote this one, just to avoid having to recount it point by point.

Wrath of the Lich King Classic will be announced to great fanfare.  This will be the big 2022 announcement for the WoW franchise, and it will be as stale as you expect.  While I love the whole retro server scene, and WotLK as well, there is a reason that Daybreak doesn’t put out a press release every time an EverQuest progression server unlocks a new expansion.  And it will be tainted by the same things that hurt Burning Crusade Classic, like a special deluxe package with a horrendous mount to single you out for ridicule.  It will be more popular than whatever is going on with Shadowlands, an admittedly low hurdle, but it won’t launch until Q4 so we won’t see any financial impact during the 2022 calendar year.

I mean, sure, Wrath Classic, big fanfare… but Dragonflight was probably the bigger announcement, if only because it was new and unexpected.  We all had no doubt Wrath Classic was going to show.  It also made it into Q3, just barely.  But it counts.

It did, however, get the ugly mount that singles you out and it was sure as hell more popular than Shadowlands this year.

I am going to give myself 4 points for this one.

4 – Immortality is Overrated

Okay, I am getting a little better as we go along here.

Diablo: Immortal will finally ship in time for summer… after all, NetEase is the one doing the work here.  It will get a lot of hype from the company because WoW Classic and Hearthstone updates can only carry so much water for them.  It will be briefly popular, because we do in fact all have phones, combining as it will everything Blizzard promised (something like Diablo) and everything fans feared (cash shop from hell), but the Q3 2022 financials will only mention it in passing.

I mean, isn’t that pretty much what happened, right down to shipping in time for summer?

You can split hairs on that one, but I am giving myself the full 10 points.  I rarely get this close to the mark.

5 – Activision Will Settle with the State of California

Okay, after that riding high on that last one I am brought low again.  I, not for the last time I am sure, invoke the Microsoft acquisition to explain this away.  Zero points.

6 – Bobby Kotick Will Remain in Charge at Activision

And, just to switch things around, the Microsoft acquisition pretty much made this a lock.  Not that I thought Bobby was going anywhere otherwise.  He has set himself up to suckle at the company’s teat, sucking down a huge amount of cash while he runs an entertainment sweat shop.  Why would he step away from that?  10 points.

7 – Enad Global 7 will Announce Marvel Universe Online

Oh EG7, you had such a potential winner here.  Even the hint of this project got the company more press than it had seen in a decade.

Massively OP declared Blizzard’s problems with its NetEase contract the biggest MMO company blunder, but when we measure the potential upside lost relative to the size of the company, this one dwarfs the NetEase deal.

Yeah, in case you hadn’t heard, all they announced was that the project was cancelled.

Zero points.

8 – H1Z1 Will Remain in Limbo

Sometimes I need a gimme.  H1Z1 is Schrodinger’s battle royale, neither dead nor alive.

10 Points.

9 – LOTRO Old and New

I was predicting a split in the product, with a new branch to support the console plans that EG7 kept talking about.  But we didn’t get anything really about the whole console thing.  I suspect the tepid response to Amazon’s Rings of Power, which was supposed to ignite more Tolkien interest, might be on the list of reasons.

Zero Points.

10 – Nothing New in Norrath

EverQuest and EverQuest II rolled on as before, and no new Norrath titles were launched, announced, or even hinted at.  Kind of a gimme.  But I need all the help I can get.

10 points.

11 – Ji Ham Confirmed as CEO of Enad Global 7

This is a complicated one.  Technically I think Ji Ham is still “acting” CEO of EG7.  His linked in profile still has “interim” on display.

On the other hand, the Daybreak team completed their reverse acquisition and now pretty much run EG7, so the idea that he is going to be asked to step down from the position seems pretty silly.

I am going to give myself 4 points because he is the CEO and they aren’t going to replace him.

12 – CCP will Circle the Wagons to Defend Against Player Feedback

Yes and no.  CCP management certainly came into the new year saying they knew better and would do whatever they wanted.  But push back from players got them to declare against crypto in EVE Online (for now), and they eventually began to relent on some of the things dragging down the New Eden economy, like capitals and battleships being too expensive to bother producing and the stranglehold on minerals… things that were pointed out as problems the day they were announced.

The economy is still not perfect, but things are at least better now… a year later than they could have been… should have been… but better.  I’m giving myself 2 points for the beginning of the year.

13 – New Eden Economic Times

This is basically part 2 of the previous item, only more about the in-game economy.  CCP eventually relented on many things that players had been complaining about since they were introduced, so I feel like I would be double dipping if I gave myself more that zero points.

14 – New World on Consoles Announcement

Sorry, no.  They spent most of 2022 trying to fix the game so people would play it again.  Their expansion saw a brief spike, but fresh start servers are really what brought people back because they could at least play on worlds that had not been screwed up economically by the company’s bumbling management of the game for the first few months.  Zero points.

15 – New World Store Update

None of these things came to pass.  Zero points.

16 – Crypto Mania will Continue and yet Yield Nothing of Value

I mean, unless you can assign value to schadenfreude I guess.  10 points.

17 – Metaversary Rhymes

Part two, the whole crypto metaverse idea of being able to bring your car from Mario Kart into Forza or whatever.  It didn’t go anywhere either.  10 points.

18 – Non-Fungible Fiascos

My ongoing bets against crypto seemed solid, but my guesses as to which company’s we beshit their games with it… well, this was the list:

  • EVE Online
  • Star Citizen
  • Black Desert Online
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Wild Card: Some Gamigo Title

None did however… which, given the talk a year ago, means crypto must have really taken a dump in 2022.  I was never happier to get zero points.

19 – Chapter and Metaverse

I was predicting that Zuckerberg’s own personal metaverse, Horizon Worlds, would gain no traction.  They were making managers force their employees to log in.  Hell, it was all they could do to announce legs… and even then they didn’t show the actual in-game legs, but specially rendered ones on the virtual Zucks.  10 points.

20 – A Better Metaplace

Raph and Playable Worlds did not deliver anything in 2022.  Zero points.

21 – Non Starters

My usual gimme list of games that won’t ship.  Basically 10 points for free.

Extra Credit

These are bonus, usually outrageous guesses for some additional points.

The first guess was that CCP would get fed up with players electing the CSM and just appoint their own council, the way Blizzard did.  Like I said, I was in a bad mood.  That did not come to pass, so zero points of extra credit there.

Meanwhile, I also guessed that Blizzard would get bored of their own WoW Player Council, thank everybody for their service after a year, and forget about the whole thing.  While the WPC has been a giant nothing burger so far as I can tell, I just went to check its special forum and it still exists.  So zero points of extra credit there as well.

The Final Score

I had a total of 210 possible points for my main predictions.  From my scoring above, I managed to get a total of 90 points.  That gives me a nearly 43% success rate, which is far better than I have done in some past years.  I guess the lesson here is always bet against crypto.

That is all I have.  Another year down.  Now I have to decide what I will do for 2023.  Predictions?  Questions?  Demands?  Something else?  I have two weeks to figure it out.

The Night of Shadows Expansion Arrives in EverQuest Today

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
  • 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.

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.


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.


Classes in Wrath Classic

One of the differences between running a “classic” server in World of Warcraft and other MMORPGs doing the same is how Blizzard handles classes.

For example, we’ll take my benchmark for retro servers, EverQuest, which did its first such servers back in 2007, when the game was a mere eight years old.  The team at SOE, and later at Daybreak, didn’t spend a bunch of time worrying about classes

That isn’t because things haven’t changed in the game over the years, but due to how they have handled change.  Rolling up a level 1 warrior and dropping in Qeynos today you’ll find a lot has changed since 1999.  You earn xp faster, your health regenerates faster, you’ve had to bypass a tutorial and other starter zone options, and the UI has changed with the times, just to name a few obvious updates.

But if you put on your rose colored glasses and squint your eyes a bit, you can attack a snake out in front of Qeynos with your basic skills… kick, taunt, and shield bash I think… and get the occasional skill improve and generally feel the way you did back in 1999.

That is because the team has mostly handled class changes for expansions by using skills or spells or alternate advancements or special abilities within the context of a specific expansion.  When it comes to classes, expansions are somewhat compartmentalized, in that they don’t effect the class as it played up to that point, but adds or changes things that go forward.

That is a general rule, and there are some exceptions.  SOE redid spells at one point so you don’t get them every five levels, for example, and that affected everybody from level 1 forward.  But for the most part they have kept to that rule.  So when you go back to an old expansion on a retro server, it at least plays and feels mostly like it did at the time.

This is, of course, in stark contrast to how Blizzard has handled classes in World of Warcraft when it comes to expansions.  In WoW every expansion revamps your class.  Sometimes a little bit, sometimes a lot.  Sometimes your favorite class and spec becomes unfun, and sometimes things get a bit better.

Between vanilla WoW and The Burning Crusade the class changes were not very radical.  My paladin and my hunter, the two classes I have played continuously since I first started with WoW, got some updates, but there wasn’t any radical change as to how the classes played.

My paladin was still putting up seals, judging them on every cool down, to improve damage and, in the case of my protection pally, hold aggro by enhancing holy damage.  Likewise, my beast mastery hunter still had to run off and tame other pets to learn skills to train his main pet, who needed to be fed pretty regularly.

And that seems pretty logical, given what we know.  The WoW team spent a lot of the time during vanilla just honing the game, udoing false assumptions, and really trying to make the whole thing work.  So there wasn’t as much time for radical class changes as they prepared for Outland.

The road to Northrend though, that seemed to have room enough for class reworks, and I have been trying to get on board with them.

With my paladin, Wrath is the first of a long line of expansions where somebody felt it was time to rework seals and judgment.  Or judgements, because with Wrath you get three flavors of judgement.

I have no memory of this…

Seals are also flat rate now, no ranks to them, and last for 30 minutes or until you judge.  So there is some getting used to things on that front.

On the other hand, exorcism is no longer limited to undead and demons, so my pally now has a single target ranged attack for pulling.

For my hunter, on the other hand, the Wrath pre-patch has been like Christmas.

Happy hunter and pet out in the Blade’s Edge Mountains

I did a quick re-spec of him after the patch and was doing some lazy questing and, with just auto-shot most of the time, he got a 100 DPS bonus before I started digging into things.

His pet now has its own talent tree with some interesting abilities, like Heart of the Phoenix, which totally not OP.

Basically, a backup pet in you pocket if your pet dies

I did the Hemet Nesingwary quests solo with my hunter, including the final named mobs, and solo’d them without problem.  I had to use the Heart of Phoenix skill once, but my hunter and pet were otherwise blazing away without issue.

And, while we’re not there yet for the removal of ammo yet… hunters free up that ammo pouch slot with the Cataclysm pre-patch… ammo now stacks in groups of 1,000 rather than 200, which means you really have to neglect your supplies to run dry.  My 16 slot ammo pouch now holds 16,000 rounds rather than 3,200.  Or, I can just get a regular bag and keep some ammo in there because ammo pouches no longer give you a bonus.

Meanwhile, I am still trying to figure out my druid.  There were some changes to feral spec, but I have been mostly distracted by having flight form, which is one of the single best things about druids in WoW.

I haven’t had time for any other classes so far.  My warrior is still level 60, and the next highest character after that is my level 40 rogue.

My goal is to get a few characters to 68, or as close as I can, while the experience bonus remains in the game, because when that goes away it will be a bit of a drag to level character up through Outland.  If there is a reason to regret not getting the dungeon finder in Wrath Classic, it is that it was the fastest way through Outland.