Post is a bit late, but I’ve been kind of out of the Game-O-Sphere this week for reasons I can’t remember, so I didn’t have anything to talk about until about 1PM EDT today when the other shoe dropped, announcing the cancellation of EverQuest Next.
I will also add to the cacophony of “I’m not surprised” that “visionaries” are offering. After SOE became Daybreak and laid off their customer-facing team that earned the ire of those same customers, talk about Landmark and EQN diminished while the hype surrounding H1Z1 increased. Since then, H1Z1 has split into about 20 different games, Landmark has actually gotten a release window, and EQN has gotten the axe.
Word on the street is that EQN was axed in part because “it wasn’t fun”. In an interview with DB President Russell Shanks, MMORPG quotes him as saying:
Our focus is making fun games. And usually in game development, the quicker you find the fun the better, so we are streamlining our development process to spend more time on core gameplay rather than reinventing required tech. What matters to us is fun first; everything else follows.
If we read between the lines, Shanks is lamenting having spent so much time on the admittedly awesome voxel technology that EQN and Landmark were being built upon, and not enough time on the actual moment-to-moment game mechanics that would have leveraged that tech to “make the game fun”.
Fun is subjective, though, as Black Desert Online has shown us (I have to get in my quota of BDO mention for the day). People are finding it “fun” to fish while AFK, or to grind for contribution points to hire NPCs to automate harvesting and trading. The whole sales-pitch behind BDO was it’s oPvP, but that marketing has kind of fallen flat as the starting towns have seen massive numbers of people carebearing around, well out of the level requirements for PvP of any kind. Who would have thought that getting a job in an MMO would be considered “fun”?
That might have been a “perfect storm” kind of thing, as BDO‘s sudden popularity for a system that wasn’t meant to be it’s bread and butter might have survived just fine if oPvP was getting as much love as the brochure advertised. It’s a lot harder to convince people that EQN might be fun, and hope that people believed them. For all intents and purposes, what they had on paper would have been fun if they could have pulled it off (there’s the rub, isn’t it?). But if the internal folks looked at what they had in hand at this point and couldn’t see any way to reach that on-paper bar, then I guess we’ll have to defer to them. I really wish that we the community could have seen what was done and judged for ourselves if it was fun. We’d be the ones being asked to pay for it, after all.
The good news is that Landmark will be 1.0’d this spring. What that means, I have no idea. It was originally a builder for EQN content. Then it became a testing ground for EQN mechanics. Then it became it’s own thing and received combat and some mobs. That was the last I heard about it, so I don’t know where the product stands now. Will Landmark be fun? If not, why does it get to live and EQN is sentenced to death? These are the questions that…well, to be honest, won’t cause me to lose any sleep, which makes me more sad than angry. I liked what EQN was to have promised, because it sounded fun by my definition.