Yesterday, Daybreak Studios made the announcement to lay off a significant number of the staff currently working on EverQuest Next and Landmark. I’ve spoken very specifically about sailing off the edge of the map with these games and this news is very disheartening. Not only are a significant number of really good people being let go, but it appears to have been done in a manner consistent with business thinking. Save the developers, the designers, and the artists. Cut the writers, and the community reps, and the visionaries because those people aren’t needed to make games.
This is intensely frustrating. If there’s one thing that games need more of these days, it’s creatives who are willing to dream big and dream different. EverQuest Next was shaping up to be an entirely different kind of MMO and it’s one that I’m still super excited about. While the decision to do the layoffs may surprise many, don’t believe the hype that some people are already saying about this being the result of poor performance/efforts from the development teams and their leadership. This was a purely business decision made by a new company that acquired a property and wanted to tweak it to work in a manner that it thought was best.
It’s part of a long-running trend in game development and I’ve been struggling with figuring out what to do next. EverQuest Next is one of the few games I’m interested in playing right now and much of the reason that I want to play it is because of the leadership of these titles coming out and selling the game to me.
I’m talking specifically about Dave Georgeson who was one of the people let go this week. He was the Franchise Director for the entire EverQuest series and captain of this particular vessel. I believe he has been working on the EverQuest games since their inception, nearly 20 years ago, and he is a huge reason I even became interested in the game. He will be sorely missed, feel free to insert your favorite Walt Whitman quote here.
And even though he’s gone, EQ Next and Landmark are still both Dave Georgeson games. The design process is well enough along now that most of the major design decisions about the games have already been made, and he helped make them. Sure, they still have testing and proof of concept work to do on several things, but at this point the vision work is done. Most of Dave’s work from what I could tell while watching Landmark Live, was centered around scheduling and cheer leading for the game. And while nobody was a better cheer leader then Dave, both are things that can be done by others.
Regardless, the games that come out will bear his mark and the mark of all those who worked with him and were also let go this week. The work they’ve started will continue, and Dave himself has a LONG history of being on the forefront of MMO and video game development. And I hope he is very proud of that history, because it is nothing short of amazing. While I’m not sure what he’s going to do next, I know that I will eagerly consume his next project, whatever it turns out to be. Personally, I hope he goes off to build a sustainable model for games development that will shake up the industry and provide him and other developers a way to avoid this situation in the future. No matter what, I wish him luck and I still can’t wait to play his games. Thank you for everything, Dave. Good luck and keep in touch. Wherever you go next will surely be better with you at the helm.