Tag Archives: EG7

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.

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:

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.

Enad Global 7 Cancels Its Daybreak Marvel MMO Project

Say farewell to any dreams about a Marvel Universe Online landing with Enad Global 7, as they announced in a press release that they were giving up on the project and writing of the money invested in it so far.

Enad Global 7

The press release was short and to the point and surprisingly not released at 4pm on Friday afternoon.  But they had an earnings announcement to do, and you have to get the bad news out with that.  The actual text for posterity:

EG7 plans to reinvest Marvel development resources across multiple long-term projects

EG7 today announced it will be discontinuing the development of the Marvel project at Daybreak Games. Based on the re-evaluation of the development risk profile, size of investment, and the long-term product portfolio strategy for the group, the board has decided to change the development priorities and reallocate resources within the group to focus on alternative long-term projects. The company had planned to invest more than SEK 500 million in the Marvel project over the next three years. The company will now diversify this investment across multiple, smaller size projects within the group, including the previously announced major upgrades to The Lord of the Rings Online and DC Universe Online, and new game opportunities with our first party, original IPs. Along with this reallocation, the company expects a write down of approximately SEK 230 million in project related assets in Q2 2022. As one of the long-term investments, the change to the Marvel project plan will not impact near to medium term revenues and profits other than the balance sheet and P&L impact related to the write-down.

You will note the not very subtle spin about investing in other projects… projects they already said they were investing in previously.  Does that mean they are investing more in things like LOTRO and DCUO?  I don’t know.  Maybe?

The assumed reason for the cancellation of the project is the departure of Dimensional Ink studio head Jack Emmert, whose history with super hero MMOs is the stuff of legend.

EG7 even called him out

His leaving, along with whoever he took with him to go work at NetEase, was apparently enough to scuttle the project.  That is always a hazard if a project depends on specific individuals.

This is pretty much a calamity for Daybreak as it continues their lifetime streak of bringing no new projects to launch since the SOE era.  Seriously, H1Z1, EverQuest Next, and Landmark were all under way before Daybreak, so the sum total of Daybreak initiatives looks like the spectacular failure of PlanetSide Arena.

Not only that, but the Marvel project might have been the most widely covered thing that Daybreak has ever announced.  My Google alerts about the company were lit up for days following the tease that they were making a Marvel IP based MMO.

Of course, what I was already calling Marvel Universe Online should have been a slam dunk.  DC Universe Online is already the most popular title in their stable and generates the most gross revenue. (EverQuest, so very cheap to maintain, and such a pillar of the genre, matches it for net profits though.)  Daybreak would have had to go really, really wrong to mess this up.

And yet, here we are.

Then there was the Q1 2022 quarterly report, where they noted income was up year over year, largely through acquisitions, the stock price was down, Daybreak is still the largest single contributor towards revenue, Ji Ham is still acting CEO, and that Innova, a Russian company, is no longer an issue, double pinkie swear.

There wasn’t a lot of new in there, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it, save for this slide.

EQ7 Q1 2022 – Looking Forward

You can see they are still betting on a boost from Amazon’s second age Middle-earth show and that they still want to invest in the things they have said they wanted to invest in previously.  At least H1Z1 isn’t being promoted quite so vigorously… and I say that only because they appear to have no plan for it, so they shouldn’t be promoting it.

So it goes.  The high hopes of 18 months ago seem to have fallen, sapped by the reality of Daybreak at the gaming industry in general.

Related:

Friday Bullet Points on a Chilly Spring Saturday

[This was supposed to be yesterday’s post, but then I woke up to a big news event, so it is a day late.]

It is cold out, considering it is spring here in California.  It has even rained here in the last 24 hours.  I am wearing a sweatshirt and jeans, which isn’t exactly the gear of arctic explorers, but by this late in April I have generally been well into the “I will wear shorts every day until I have finished off the Halloween candy” state of affairs that working from home forever has brought me to.

Not that the weather has anything to do with the rest of this post, but I needed a headline and the weather will serve when nothing else comes to mind.  So on with another bullet points post or items I thought worth noting but which weren’t worth a whole post on their own.

Enad Global 7

  • EG7 Dropping Russia

On the trend with western companies bailing from Russia after its brutal invasion of Ukraine, Enad Global 7 has announced that they will selling off their Innova subsidiary to the management of the team for a total of 32 million Euros, quite a haircut for the company considering they shelled out 109 million Euros for the company when they closed the deal for it a little over a year ago.  Innova was primarily acquired because they held the license to run a number of MMOs in the EU and Russia.  The current state of the Ukraine conflict puts Innova in a tough spot.

Meanwhile EG7 also announced that they would Toadman Interactive, another acquired studio, would be relocated from its current location in Russia to somewhere in the EU.

Database evolution

  • EVE Online Database History

CCP has posted another of the dev blogs that makes them a standout on the communications front in the industry.  Every time I think that they could do better, I have to remind myself how poorly the industry handles this sort of thing.

New database server upgrades have arrived and that has prompted the team to write a history of the databases of EVE Online, spanning from the early days when they had to solve lag problems with people just warping across systems, to being able to cope with 100 vs 100 fights, to the monster servers that they have today which make the original 2003 game look as powerful as a digital watch by comparison. (Though I still think digital watches wee a pretty neat idea.)

Anyway, if this is your sort of thing… and I am all over these sorts of posts… you can find the whole thing on CCPs news site here.

A new drama generator

  • RimWorld is Legal in Australia Again

It was noted previously that, after the Ideology expansion for RimWorld landed, it seemed like maybe the thought of feminist nudist cannibals was too much for the faint hearts in Canberra.

And that could have been it, though the whole thing came up due to the fact that there was a console version of the game on the horizon, which was what got the Classification Review Board taking a look at RimWorld again.  And they didn’t like what they saw, so flagged it as “Refused Classification” which made it unsalable down under.

That was undone earlier this week… on 4/20 if you think there is any significance in that… allowing the people of Australian to once again purchase RimWorld or redeem Steam keys for the game.

And, speaking of console support, RimWorld also announced that the game now has full support for Steam Deck, so perhaps that was what triggered the whole thing.

The return of the classic

  • Diablo II Resurrected Gets Ladders and more

Diablo II Resurrected has gotten its 2.4 patch, which is the biggest update the game has received in a long long time.

The lead story for the update is the unlock of the ladder seasons for those who want a competitive Diablo II experience, but there is so much more in the update such as class updates, mercenary fixes, new rune words, new Horadric Cube recipes, quality of life updates, and even some new levels of legacy graphics emulation for those who play with the old school look.

The great thing is that Blizzard has gone all in on this 22 year old game to make it better and fix things that has been problems for decades.  The sad thing is that this might be the peak of Diablo news this year unless Diablo Immortal is a lot better than I suspect it will be.

Playable Worlds

  • Playable Worlds gets $25 Million in Funding

Finally, news got out this week that Playable Worlds, Raph Koster’s sandbox cloud MMO venture, managed to pick up $25 million in financing for the project from a group that includes Korean video game publisher Kakao Games Corp.

That got Raph Koster to speak a bit more about the vision for the title:

“It’s about having environments that are more alive,” Koster said. “Players can affect things that evolve and change rather than being static. Most games build their maps out of static meshes. Ours are dynamic and come down on the fly from the server. It’s about enabling worlds to feel more alive. That’s really what it comes down to.”

“Offering truly and fully persistent shared environments and massive scale is something else that is really important to us,” Koster said. “These aren’t just theme parks that you ride through, right? Where the developers are the ones who are in control. Giving full persistence also unlocks the ability for players to have far more impact. If you chop down a tree, it is permanently gone from the world for everybody.”

Specifics about the project were not forthcoming.

And we have heard a vision like this before, with the EverQuest Next project, which was eventually shelved by Daybreak, in part because of the processing requirements such a dynamic and player changeable world entailed.

Enad Global 7 Posts Strong Q4 2021 Results with High Hopes for MTGO

Enad Global 7 posted their Q4 2021 and overall 2021 financial results this week.

Enad Global 7

As reported elsewhere, it was a good quarter for the company, with revenue up significantly.

While services made a huge leap in revenue, with the split between services and games being 60/40 in Q4 2021, the whole revenue stack for Q4 2021 dwarfs what it was for Q4 2020 when EG7 was in the process of acquiring Daybreak.

EG7 Q4 2021 slide 8

That said, while Daybreak remains the dominant part of EG7’s game segment, and grew slightly in Q4, I do wonder why it didn’t grow more.

Q3 vs Q4 Games Revenue

Those values are in Swedish Krona, but it is close enough to equal to the US Dollar at the moment as to make no difference for a chart.  Q4 saw Daybreak launch three expansions, with Lord of the Rings Online, EverQuest, and EverQuest II selling virtual boxes with price points as high as $250 for the super deluxe friends and family packs, which would at least lead me to assume that Q4 ought to see a significant bump.  I mean, you don’t ship content packages like that unless they are making you money.

Now, I don’t have the same chart break out for Q2 for a direct, ongoing comparison, and maybe they account for pre-orders in Q3 rather than Q4 (though generally you only count revenue when you deliver a product), but it is still something that makes you wonder.

Anyway, the classes I took on finance and accounting were all more than 30 years ago at this point, so my opinions do not carry a lot of weight.

Instead, I’ll move on to the forward looking statements, as there is a slide dedicated to EG7’s 2022 plans.

EG7 Q4 2021 slide 16

In the short term they have a couple of games in the pipeline.  They are also expecting Lord of the Rings Online to see an uptick due to Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power streaming series, which is slated to premier in September.

Then there is Magic The Gathering Online, which I will get to in a moment, along with some mergers and acquisitions they have going.  I wonder who is left worth buying?

While the business focus is “2022,” the last time around things in the medium term seemed more likely to come to pass in 2023.  Big updates for LOTRO and DCUO were previously mentioned, so MTGO is the new piece in that picture.

And then there is the long term, which looks somewhat different that it did in the Q3 2021 presentation, with a promise of new products based on EverQuest and H1Z1, along with DCUO.  That is new.  I am not sure what it means, and after the folly of EverQuest Next I am not about to get invested in any fantasies about what it might mean, but there it is.  And H1Z1?  They can’t let that go, but there is still nobody actually working on it either last I heard, so I don’t even know where to go with that.

Missing is any reference to the Mavel IP MMO being developed, mentioned as part of the Q3 2021 presentation, which was probably the most widely reported thing EG7 has ever announced.  It is mentioned in passing in the Ji Ham statement at the top of the interim financial report, but that isn’t exactly top billing, so that might be far enough out that they don’t want to wear out its popularity too quickly.

And then there is Magic the Gathering Online, which gets a slide all to itself.

EG7 Q4 2021 Slide 4

EG7 announced this deal back in December, and we’re getting a little more detail now.

“Acquihire” generally means to buy another company to get their development team as opposed to their product line, though given that this is being billed as a license deal with no upfront purchase (free to play acquisitions!),  “aquihire” might be the wrong term, but I am not sure what the right word would be.

But the result is that the team that was working on MTGO now works for Daybreak and are carrying on developing and supporting the live game.  EG7 is highlighting this, and it is a big deal with some revenue heft behind it.

But deals like this don’t happen when a title is doing super awesome and revenue is expected to keep growing.  Magic the Gathering Arena, which is available on mobile devices, as opposed to the Windows only MTGO, is said to be the new hotness for digital MTG fans, with a superior business model and all that.

I am not saying that EG7 is being too optimistic.  MTGO is still a substantial business and an immediate addition to their revenue stream.  They are winning on this deal from day one.  And there is no doubt a solid, core player base invested (literally and figuratively) in this title.  But there is a reason that this deal isn’t getting anything close to the amount of press the Marvel IP announcement did.

Anyway, that is 2021 for EG7.  On to 2022.

Related:

Daybreak Posts 2022 Roadmaps for EverQuest and EverQuest II

In a bit of a surprise, yesterday Daybreak posted their 2022 plans for their two remaining Norrath based titles, EverQuest and EverQuest II.

EverQuest was, of course, the foundation of SOE and its success, launching back in 1999, and was a benchmark for success before WoW came along.

EverQuest II came along five and a half years late as their heir presumptive, though the original game never ended up going away, so there has been a bit of a Queen Elizabeth/Prince Charles relationship going on here, with the newer title never really growing out of the original’s shadow.

Anyway, the real surprise was Daybreak being so forthcoming about their plans for 2022.  Daybreak’s reputation has not been one of “over communicating.”  There have been years when we have know that some things are coming, like new special servers, and we have assumed that things like Q4 expansions would be a thing because they always are.  But getting a plan up front is a rather drastic departure, and one I would like to encourage.

I just hope that fans remember that any roadmap is subject to change,  something that grows more likely past the six month mark.  But as long as Daybreak communicates changes, we should be fine.  People generally get more angry when a date comes and goes without a word than if they get notification that things have had to change.

A lot of the roadmap items are pretty common fare, things we expect from the company, like expansions and updates and events.

One standout item for both games is the migration to 64-bit clients and servers, something required to ensure the long term viability of both games.  EverQuest, which got an announcement about this back in November, is slated for 64-bit next month, while EverQuest II has July on its timeline.  With one team handling both games, the titles being done individually is probably a requirement.

EverQuest, the classic

EverQuest

EverQuest has a couple of big items on its list, including finally updating Heroic Characters, which is their level boost option, to be level 100 rather than level 85.  Level 100 still seems a bit stingy for a game where the level cap is 120 and expansions tend to jump only 5 levels, but it is still better than 85, where the boost has been stuck for the last seven years or so.

Mercenaries are also getting a rework to simplify them, a new progression server is slated for May, and the 29th expansion for the game will arrive in December.

Then, tacked on at the end, there is a promise of a new UI engine at some point beyond 2022.  Again, another item that might help preserve the game for a new generation of players.  What that really means and the actual timing will be something for the future, but it is nice to see it on the roadmap at least.

Oh, and then they are attempting to reboot their community council thing again.  I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing, and it certainly represents a new direction for the Daybreak era of the game.

But SOE had guild and community groups in the past and their influence has always been a bit of a mixed blessing.  They have tended to be drawn from the rarefied high end raiding elements of the game, because that group tends to be the most engaged with the game.  As with EVE Online’s CSM or the WoW Community Council, over representation of high engagement groups tends to toss more casual elements by the wayside.  We’ll see how it goes… maybe…. maybe Daybreak will remain communicative… once this comes together.  I haven’t seen how you can apply to be on the council or any other details about it and it is already the 20th.  This could be the first item to slip.

The full posted 2022 timeline for EverQuest is:

  • January:
    • Community Resource Council Application Relaunch – Your chance to help advise on the future of EverQuest.
  • February:
    • 64-Bit Servers and Clients Release to Live Servers
  • March:
    • 23rd Anniversary – New quests, missions, and a new raid.
    • New Content for Bristlebane’s Day
    • New Content for Stomple’s Day
  • April:
    • New Classic Achievements – Adding achievements for many original quests in EverQuest’s starting cities.
  • May:
    • New Progression Servers – Rulesets to be announced at a later date.
    • Mercenary Rank Simplification – Simplify mercenaries down to the two ranks primarily in use and remove the quest line requirements for obtaining them.
    • New Tempest Festival Event
  • June:
    • Server Merge – Merging the Phinigel and Miragul servers to Vox.
  • July:
    • New Scorched Skies Event
    • New Overseer Achievements and Reward Improvements
  • September:
    • Heroic Characters Update – New Heroic Characters will start at level 100.
  • October:
    • 2022’s Expansion Beta + Preorder
    • New Content for Nights of the Dead
  • November:
    • Extra Life – Help us raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network.
    • New Content for Feast of Giving
  • December:
    • 2022’s Expansion Launch
    • New Content for the New Year’s Event
  • Throughout the Year:
    • Raid Zone Performance Improvements
    • Class Tuning and Balancing
    • Anti-Cheat Improvements
  • Beyond 2022:
    • New UI Engine

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

EverQuest II

The younger sibling doesn’t have as much big stuff on its list as EverQuest, but it is also in a better state when it come to things like level boost options and mercenaries.

As noted above, the 64-bit update for client and server is slated for July, and the game will be getting a new special rules server along with the annual expansion in December.

The one item I am interested to see is Heroic Opportunities getting a rework.  Those were a thing back at launch, but like Fellowship Maneuvers in LOTRO, fell out of favor as time went on.  They are still in there, and I still kick them off when I play, but I couldn’t tell you if they were worth the effort.  From the timing, it looks like the HO update will be part of the expansion in December.

The full EverQuest II timeline as posted:

    • January:
      • Kaladim Unlocking Age of Discovery – Opening up the Withered Lands and Skyshrine zones.
      • Improvements to the Test Server – Recipe books from old expansions added to the bookworm and level boosts setup to scale correctly to max level.
    • February:
      • Server Merge – Rivervale into Antonia Bayle
      • Lore and Legend Server – Every piece of content in the game is appropriate for your character.
    • March:
      • Chronoportal Phenomenon Updates – The annual commemoration of EverQuest’s anniversary will bring a new throwback dungeon as well as new items to attain during this timely event.
    • April:
      • Game Update 119 – Includes a new Overseer season, an Overseer Inventory system, new raid dungeons, new heroic dungeons, and new collections.
      • Stat/Number Wrappers – In game combat numbers (damage and heals) are visually abbreviated and commas are added into damage logs.
    • May:
      • New Time Locked Expansion Server – A brand new server called Varsoon that will be very similar to the Kaladim ruleset plus the Free Trade ruleset.
      • Tinkerfest Updates – The gears of time have been wound a little tighter, bringing the celebration of all things gnomish and clockwork a little earlier than in previous years. A new dungeon, new rewards, and new merchant items will be available exclusively during this event. You’ll also start earning Jubilation Medals, coins that can be earned and exchanged during the three summertime events for desirable items!
    • June:
      • Scorched Sky Celebration Updates – A red-hot new dungeon and new items will be available for those looking to join the devotees of Flame in their annual fiery festivities. Get more Jubilation Medals!
      • New Patches of Pride Items – New LGBTQIA pride familiars arrive!
    • July:
      • 64-Bit Servers and Clients Port Launch
    • August:
      • Game Update 120
      • Oceansfull Festival Updates – Join the loveable othmir as they give thanks to Prexus with this annual celebration. A new dungeon will be cracked open and new items will be available during the event. Get more Jubilation Medals to exchange for desirable items!
    • September:
      • Swag Store
      • 2022’s Expansion Prelude – A new expansion deserves a new prelude, complete with new items and new quests!
      • Panda, Panda, Panda Updates – The Hua Mein event of the year returns! You never know what they’ll ask of you, or where it’ll require you to go.
    • October:
      • 2022’s Expansion Beta + Preorder – Preorder of EverQuest II’s 19th expansion begins! Purchase your copy and join us in beta.
    • November:
      • Heroes’ Festival – Celebrate our 18th Anniversary!
      • Extra Life – Help us raise funds for the Children’s Miracle Network.
    • December:
      • 2022’s Expansion Launch – EverQuest II’s 19th expansion launches, bringing new zones, new quests, and new adventures to Norrath!
      • Heroic Opportunity System Update – Making heroic opportunities fun and relevant again!
    • Throughout the Year:
      • Item Reward and Merchant Updates to Events – Your favorite live event wasn’t listed above? Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten it. It’ll get new items and a bit of a refresh, too.

It is nice to see the company being out in front with this sort of information, it being, as I noted above, a rather radical change from the days of Daybreak when the company seemed to fret about providing any information.

I just hope they don’t get burned for it.  Players remember company promises, and anything said in public counts.  Roadmaps are plans, and plans don’t always come together.  We’ll see if we get updates when something inevitably slips and if that will build trust with the community.

Related

Friday Bullet Points about Acquisitions on Christmas Eve

At this point it is probably too late to worry about whether you’ve been naughty or nice in 2021, but there is still some time left before the fat man flies to touch on a few items I wanted to bring up but which didn’t seem worth a full post.

  • Daybreak and Magic the Gathering Online

The news hit yesterday that Daybreak, now always highlighted as a fully owned subsidiary of Enad Global 7, though with the Daybreak boss in as CEO you might ask who really owns who at this point, made a deal with Wizards of the Coast (owned by Hasbro now) to take over publishing and operational duties for Magic: The Gathering Online, the virtual version of the classic collectible card game.  The deal also includes the right to “develop” the title.

Magic the Gathering Online

Daybreak has had experience in the past with collectible card games, though those have all since been shut down.  According to the coverage at Massively OP, the deal means that the development team responsible for the title will become a studio under the Daybreak banner, as opposed to being folded into one of the current studios.

  • Crowfall Finds a New Home

In a classic “hide the message” move, it came out last Friday after the US markets had closed (the press release hit my inbox at 4:20pm Pacific time, so dude!) that Crowfall, a crowdfunded MMO that actually went live earlier this year, making it an exception to the rule for MMOs choosing that financing route, was to be acquired by Monumental, the studio which runs Mythgard.

Is this even still their logo?

Despite the after hours on a Friday press release, the news seemed promising for the title. While the Crowfall team ran a successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2015, bringing in more than $1.7 million, and managed to launch earlier this year, the game appeared to be struggling to find an audience.

According to coverage over at Massively OP, Monumental will be providing resources to improve the game and keep it going, as the title seemed to be foundering after its launch.

  • Perfect World Entertainment embraced by Embracer Group

Also in for an end of the year acquisition… companies are out doing their holiday shopping before the end of the fiscal year I guess… was Perfect World Entertainment, which had itself acquired Cryptic Studios (which created Neverwinter, Star Trek Online, and Champions Online, but which is probably best known for the late City of Heroes) and Runic Games (which did the Torchlight series, Hob, and Mythos) over the years.

Just down the street from EA HQ, though Cryptic is less than 2 miles from my house

The buyer is the Embracer Group, which also acquired Gearbox earlier this year.  PWE will be slotted in as part of Gearbox in the organization.

Since Embracer is publicly held, they had to do a report on the acquisition, which included fresh new details about some of the titles.  Not as in depth as what we got about Daybreak when EG7 acquired them last December, but still some data points including lifetime revenue and total player counts.

I suspect that format was chosen to give the titles the best possible look financially.  Star Trek Online, for example, was reported as having made $240 million over its life so far, with 4 million players trying the title.  That means the nearly 12 year old title has made about $20 million a year, but I imagine a good chunk of that was early on and includes box sales.  No word on what it, or any of the other PWE titles have been pulling in recently.  That the price was $125 million in cash and equity, less than half of what Daybreak sold for a year ago, one might infer that PWE titles would rank closer to the lower end of the Daybreak titles in gross revenue, and maybe even less in net profit due to some of them being licensed properties.