After remaining quiet about the status of Everquest Next for an entire year, Daybreak has announced that the planned MMO has been cancelled. Daybreak president Russ Shanks explained the reasoning behind the decision in a post on the company's official website.
"I'm writing today to let you know that, after much review and consideration, Daybreak is discontinuing development of EverQuest Next," wrote Shanks. "When we decided to create the next chapter in the EverQuest journey, we didn't aim low. We set out to make something revolutionary. For those familiar with the internals of game development, you know that cancellations are a reality we must face from time to time. Inherent to the creative process are dreaming big, pushing hard and being brutally honest with where you land."
"In the case of EverQuest Next, we accomplished incredible feats that astonished industry insiders," he explained. "Unfortunately, as we put together the pieces, we found that it wasn't fun. We know you have high standards when it comes to Norrath and we do too. In final review, we had to face the fact that EverQuest Next would not meet the expectations we – and all of you – have for the worlds of Norrath."
Landmark, the world-building game that was original entitled EverQuest Next Landmark, is not cancelled however. Over on the Landmark forums, EverQuest executive producer Holly Longdale announced that Landmark would be leaving beta this Spring. The game will be available on Windows PC and Steam, with a $9.99 price tag, which is surprising because Landmark was originally envisioned as a free-to-play title. Players who previously purchased Founder's Packs retain access to Landmark at launch, but there's no mention in the Landmark FAQ about supplying Steam keys.
The cancellation of EverQuest Next is unsurprising after the upheaval that Daybreak has undergone since separating from Sony. Sony Online Entertainment was acquired by Columbus Nova in early February of 2015, being renamed to Daybreak Game Company. A short time later, Daybreak laid off a number of employees, including EverQuest boss David Georgeson. In June, the company than announced that it was shifting resources from Landmark to Everquest Next, with no promise of a release date. Former Daybreak CEO John Smedley, who was a champion for EverQuest Next, left the company in August to form his own studio.
Following the transition to Daybreak, the company seemed more interested in playing up H1Z1, a free-to-play zombie survival game. At the same time, EverQuest Next has been in development since August 2010, meaning Sony Online Entertainment/Daybreak has dropped a ton of money into the project with little to show for it. For the smaller Daybreak, it makes more sense to continue to support EverQuest, EverQuest II, H1Z1, and Landmark, than it does to build the next great MMO.
It's a shame, because the promises of EverQuest Next sounded amazing.