No, I'm still not over it.
OK, I think I'm over the news itself. I've accepted that I'll never play EverQuest Next, that it's been confined to the MMORPG dustbin, never to see the break of day (heh).
I'm a little less accepting, though, of how the news was delivered. It was never going to be well-received, but Daybreak Game Company has been taking a beating the last few weeks from angry fans, media members – and, I'd guess, more than a few former and current employees. It didn't have to be that way.
Well, it did, but it didn't have to be quite this bad. Daybreak might have avoided some of the ill feelings with just a few simple tweaks to its messaging and execution to salvage some of its tattered reputation and instill the tiniest bit of goodwill toward the beleaguered company. It could make everyone involved feel a little better about what transpired and given better closure to a years-long relationship that ended on a sour note.
Some of these things could still be done, with minimal effort. They'll require a bit of soul-searching, a little humility, and a dash of trust, extended from the company to its customers. Considering how the company's name is being dragged through the mud lately, it couldn't hurt.
There should have been a better explanation
Why was EverQuest Next canceled? Because “it wasn't fun.” That's it. That's all we got. There was talk in the announcement about having aiming to make “something revolutionary” and having “high standards,” but there was very little in terms of real information about why the project was scrapped.
Now, compare that to when Blizzard shut down Titan. Blizzard execs granted a lengthy interview to Polygon, going over several factors that led to the game's eventual demise. Yes, “We didn't find the fun” echoes Daybreak's statement, but there's a lot more there, which helped to convince players that, yeah, maybe it wouldn't have worked and we (meaning Blizzard) really did know what was best.
In the end, what was the ultimate reason Titan wasn't made? Because Blizzard didn't think it would be profitable. Expenses were too high, or expected revenue was too low. That's probably the same with EverQuest Next, and maybe Daybreak knows that wouldn't be satisfactory, but you can still give a better explanation than what was given without seeming like it was all about the money.
Some people won't accept any explanation, no matter how well-reasoned it is – and a few brain-dead imbeciles will say something like “stoopid devs they could have done it cuz it was sooooo easy!” – but enough people will take what the company says at face value. A longer statement, or an interview, could still do wonders for satisfying bruised feelings, but...
Someone else should have delivered the news
...it needs to involve someone other than Russell Shanks. Or Laura Naviaux, or the newly hired Larry LaPierre. I have nothing against any of those people, but players don't want to hear from executives right now. They want to hear from the people who actually made those games, the people who are just as passionate about them as they are.
Say what you will about John Smedley, but you at least knew he played the games and could speak to players as one of them, not just as a high-powered executive (which, to be honest, he wasn't that great at) who thinks a brief few paragraphs are all that's required to keep those “kids” in line. Yes, the people holding the reins should control the narrative, but include commentary from Terry Michaels or Holly Longdale or Jens Andersen – anyone involved with the day-to-day creation of the games who could speak about them with the love and care that mirrors the way so many of us felt.
We should have received an assets dump
The lights are off, the doors are shut, it ain't coming back. So why not give us something pretty to look at, to dream about, to make us feel like our time and devotion wasn't wasted?
I understand game companies' secrecy over products they're developing. They don't want to reveal too much, to promise too much, to build up players' expectations for something that might be a long time coming, if it comes at all. But with a canceled game, there are no promises. There are no words to break – well, not any more, at least. There's no reason to hold back. Let us see some of the shiny before you crush our fantasy into dust.
Some people would say that would just be “rubbing it in,” letting us get a tantalizing taste of a game we'll never play. I can respect that opinion, but I don't share it, and I think a lot of other people would agree with me. We heard so little about EQN for so long, so there's no harm in letting us have a taste of the visuals we were craving for so long – along with a better explanation, coming from someone we trust – even if we know it will forever be a dream unrealized. Perhaps then, we'll finally have our bittersweet closure.
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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