Tag Archives: The Burning Lands

The Burning Lands Expansion Launched Just After Layoffs at Daybreak

We learned a little over a month ago that The Burning Lands, the 25th EverQuest expansion, was slated to go live today.  And so it has.  We knew it was coming, but we were finally getting some detailed information.  Also, pre-orders were open.  You could start giving Daybreak your money.

Does this feel a little “Disney” to you?

The high level points of the expansion seemed to be about on par with what we have come to expect annually from the Norrath team.  Some new zones around a hub, new raids, new quests, new abilities, and a new mechanic.

  • Luck Stat – A brand new stat that influences just how lucky you are! This stat will randomly increase the amount of gold in your split, the amount of critical damage you do, your chance to succeed at a trade-skill combine, and much more!
  • 6 Expansion Zones – You’ll adventure throughout the grand and fantastic environments and architecture of the Planes of Fire, Air, and Smoke!
  • New Raids, Quests, and Missions
  • New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
  • New Collections

There is nothing on that list that is going to drag anybody new into the game, but that was to be expected.  MMORPGs beyond a certain age become more about tending to the installed base than trying to grab new players.  Anybody proposing otherwise is fighting history and wasting money.  Once you’ve launched and gone free to play there isn’t anything left to attract new players in anything like the quantity needed to support any radical change.

So a normal autumnal expansion release for EverQuest.  Maybe a couple weeks later than we might have expected… November is more the norm… but close enough.  All seems normal in Norrath.

Or would seem normal if Daybreak hadn’t just laid off a big chunk of their staff on Friday.

Daybreak, not being a public company, doesn’t have to tell us about layoffs.  But in the age of social media, word of layoffs get out quickly and this round was no exception, with John Smedley echoing what he had heard on Twitter Friday morning.

Once the press had been alerted Daybreak issued an anodyne statement about optimization while refusing to mention any details.

We are optimizing our structure to ensure we best position ourselves for continued success in the years to come. This effort has required us to make some changes within the organization and we are doing everything we can to support those impacted in this difficult time. As we look to improve efficiencies and realign resources, we remain focused on supporting our existing games and development of our future titles.

That statement is an example of one trying to have ones cake and eat it too.  Reports say that between 60 and 70 people, or roughly one third of Daybreak’s staff, was given their notice on Friday.  When you are down by a third it will be difficult to both support existing games and develop new titles.

Of course, what even are the existing Daybreak titles at this point?  EverQuest and EverQuest II,  holding up the fantasy end of the catalog, were merged into a single shared group some time back.  DC Universe Online is the superhero game and reportedly the most consistent revenue generator, the PlayStation 4 version being the breadwinner there.  And then there is PlanetSide 2, which has been problematic in the past, though it is still getting updates.

H1Z1 Battle Royale went to NantG Mobile as part of the joint venture between NantWorks and Daybreak announced back in September.  NantWorks had the money and Daybreak had the IP I guess, though Daybreak apparently held on to the PlayStation 4 version of H1Z1.  So if there was anybody left working on H1Z1 or the esports league, they were probably seen as expendable.

Word is that the layoffs were concentrated in the Daybreak Austin office and were related to a new project being developed there around a “top IP.”  Daybreak said that the Austin office was not being closed, but I guess that they are no longer working on that “top IP” if they’ve been mostly let go.

People working on the new thing are gone and people working on the old stuff were already spread a bit thin.  Where does that leave Daybreak.

Back in May there was a post on Reddit alleged to be by a former Daybreak employee about plans for the company.  I summed that up in a post here, and a good thing too as it was removed from Reddit by the author not too long later.

The removal led to it being declared a fake, but some key details certainly ended up coming to pass.

Sure, Just Survive sunsetting was hardly a reach.  Even I predicted that back in January.  But the whole Z1 Battle Royale was alluded to, something we didn’t end up hearing about until September.  And the trajectory for PlanetSide 2 seems to line up.

So, in looking at the rest of that post, you have to ask if we are looking at the end game for EverQuest and EverQuest II, if Daybreak is holding out for one last anniversary update for each of them (they turn 20 and 15 respectively next year) before moving on to the alleged EverQuest 3 and its plan for PvP focus anchored on a fantasy battle royale feature.

If that is the case, my prediction would be to prepare for disaster and a belated attempt to return to catering to the installed base once EverQuest 3 flops, because PvP has never been much beyond a distraction in Norrath.

But, the word has come out that we might be hearing about something new from Daybreak on Thursday.  Bets on what it will be?  PlanetSide 3?  EverQuest 3 PvP?  PlanetSide Mobile?  EverQuest Mobile?  What else have they got to work with?

Sources:

The Burning Lands Expansion Coming to EverQuest December 11, 2018

Yes, this was announced last Tuesday and I am just now getting to it.  What can I say, I was busy and pretty much had last week all written by Monday night and then there was BlizzCon to write about yesterday.

We knew it was coming.  As sure as daylight savings time gets rolled back every year, so does an EverQuest expansion appear.  Or something.  What a horrible metaphor.

Also I posted about it like a month ago.

But now things have changed.  We have some more information and you can pre-order the expansion.  So what does the 25th EverQuest expansion, The Burning Lands, bring us?

Does this feel a little “Disney” to you?

Delaying this post means I can put in the replay of the live stream Daybreak did about the expansion.

The stream starts off with three people who look like they were in diapers still when EverQuest launched and who, as with the Chaos Descending live stream from earlier in October, spend the first chunk of time talking about the stuff you get if you order the Collector’s or Premium edition of the expansion.  But after about the ten minute mark an adult shows up and starts talking about the actual expansion.

Again, I couldn’t sit through the whole live stream, but I did watch a bit, enough to see both how far the graphics have come in this soon-to-be 20 year old game and how short of current they remain.

If you don’t want to watch the live stream though, some information has been posted.  The order page describes the expansion like this:

The longstanding peace between the jann is over, and war has broken out between the djinn from the Plane of Air and the efreeti from the Plane of Fire! What has sparked this dispute and who will emerge victorious? Will you survive the Trials of Smoke and help end this conflict?

It is time to head back to the Planes and unravel the mysteries that await you there!

Back to the elemental planes, as foretold by prophecy and a need to crank out an expansion for both Norrath based titles.

The bullet point summary is:

  • Luck Stat – A brand new stat that influences just how lucky you are! This stat will randomly increase the amount of gold in your split, the amount of critical damage you do, your chance to succeed at a trade-skill combine, and much more!
  • 6 Expansion Zones – You’ll adventure throughout the grand and fantastic environments and architecture of the Planes of Fire, Air, and Smoke!
  • New Raids, Quests, and Missions
  • New Spells, Combat Abilities, and AAs
  • New Collections

The Lucky Stat sounds like something new to optimize.  Six new zones seems about par for the course.  All the new stuff is, likewise, expected… though I hadn’t realized that collections, something I think of as an EverQuest II mania, had made it into the original.

Also as expected, the expansion is available in three packages.

I had to update this graphic finally!

The standard edition gets you all the expansion content, plus all previous expansion content.  So if you skipped last year’s Ring of Scale expansion, you get all that and anything else you might have missed.

And then there are the much pricier Collector’s and Premium editions.  I am not sure where I stand on these.  Over on the EverQuest II side of the house the upscale editions do deliver some significant boosts.  You can debate over whether any boost is worth $55 or a $105 in extra cost, but at least they seem more tangible that what the EverQuest versions bring you.  Going all in for the full monty Premium Edition of The Burning Lands will you get an item that teleports you to the new content, a house item that does that, a new mercenary, a stat boosting saddle, some cosmetic items, experience boosts, and familiars including the dread fire slug.

Not this however, this is a snail

That isn’t enough to sell me an upgrade to the base expansion.  But I am unlikely to buy the base expansion either, so I might not be the best judge.  I just know that I look at the EverQuest II upsells and I think, “Hmm… maybe…” while I look at the EverQuest upsells and think, “Nah, not worth it.”

Anyway, there it is, coming December 11th.  And how many 19 year old games are not only getting new content, but are able to sell it?  MMORPGs are strange.

The Burning Lands set to be the 25th EverQuest Expansion this December

The expected second shoe dropped as Daybreak announced late on Friday the next EverQuest expansion, The Burning Lands.

Beware: Hot Snail

I am not sure why a snail was the monster they chose tease the expansion with, but maybe they are fans of the Pokemon Magcargo.

And what is it with Daybreak and Friday afternoon announcements?  That is when you put out press releases you want people to miss.  I know I did.

The short producer’s letter mentioned the expansion and some general details about the setting.  As I predicted back in January, EverQuest will be following its younger sibling back into the elemental planes.  A lucky guess if ever there was one.

As with EverQuest II, the older game will see gear up and catch up events before the expansion arrives.  In addition the previous expansion, Ring of Scale, will be half price until pre-orders for the new expansion goes live.  After pre-orders for The Burning Lands are available you will no longer be able to get the collector’s or premium editions of the older expansion, so if you want all the bennies that come with either of those now is the time to act.

And so it goes, with the turning of the leaves and a new autumn we get another new EverQuest expansion.