Tuesday, April 28, 2015

President Smed And The Things He Said : Daybreak Games

Here's an interesting little read:  it's an interview with Daybreak President John "Smed" Smedley and Laura Naviaux, his vice-president of marketing.

The interview is full of revelations. How about that new logo? Wilhelm was almost right. It's not an Owlbear's eye but it is the eye of some kind of owl.

Why? Well, apparently we gamers, we're all night-owls, who stay up hammering the keys until dawn's light seeps in through the tightly-closed shutters. That's why they called the company Daybreak. I'm not making this up. Here's Laura Naviaux:

"The Daybreak logo was designed to reflect that brand, with a nocturnal aspect, (the owl's eye), a technological aspect (the gear within the eye), and a more literal aspect (the "Daybreak" of a rising sun within the gear)". 

That's just an amuse-bouche before the main course. Here comes Smed:

"I firmly believe the days of the WoW-style MMO are over. How many people do you still know that are still raiding in WoW every night, or EverQuest and EverQuest II?"

Way to go to piss off your core audience there...except of course that was SOE's core audience not Daybreak's, wasn't it? Daybreak's core audience are the million-plus people who stumped up $20 for H1Z1. Apparently they're a bunch with very short attention spans:

"...the average life expectancy in H1Z1 might be 45 minutes, and that's what today's gamers want."

Smed's still very much a believer in F2P, which he expects to take off big-time on consoles soon:

 "I think it's in its infancy and you're going to see the doors blow off it...as a consumer, a gamer, when you go to open your new PS4 or Xbox One, the first thing you're going to look for is what free content is there".

I'd be looking for where to plug it in but that's just me...

Naviaux steps in just to make it clear they're not losing sight of the main target:

"We need to run a profitable, sustainable business". 

I think we can all get behind that sentiment. This took me by surprise though: 

"Going forward, it may be that there's an entrance fee to our games, but there will always be a microtransaction element as the industry moves more toward that".

When I first read that I thought for a moment they were proposing a return to the Subscription model but on reflection I think it just means things like selling alpha access and going Buy-to-Play at launch. Even so, it's a retrenchment, isn't it?

And speaking of launches, those seem to be a moveable feast nowadays. Didn't Planetside2 launch a long time ago? I could have sworn I remembered hearing something about it. Don't say it's still in some kind of beta? I only ask because:

"I can tell you [what it will take to get big budget AAA free-to-play games to take off on consoles] as soon as we launch Planetside 2 because that game cost nearly $30 million to make." 

That's not all the fun stuff. There's more on the SOE/Daybreak layoffs, the focus on mobile gaming, how hard it is to get people to take you seriously when you don't have Big Sony standing behind you...

As I said, it's an interesting little read, full of the kind of detail Smed always gives when he's talking to the business press. I first read one of his industry journal interviews way back around the turn of the century, when he was estimating that Everquest should run three years, maybe five with good luck and a following wind. 

He's the man to go to for a prediction on the future of gaming alright.


  1. Your take on the interview was actually just as amusing as the interview itself! Perhaps moreso.

    Oh, Smed.

  2. Lead a happier life...never read anything said by Smed.

  3. Smed can say what he wants, but I still think that eye was modeled straight from a Nek Forest owlbear. I've faced them enough to know.

    The whole "MMOs? We don't need MMOs where we're going!" attitude and the idea that the only thing holding SOE back was the fact that they couldn't be on PlayStation AND Xbox makes me wince a bit. The market has changed, but I am not sure that Daybreak is poised to be a player by neglecting their foundation products.

    And, of course, what does this mean for EverQuest Next Year in Freeport?

  4. I'm usually bored by these kind of interviews, but your commentary is priceless.

  5. It's clear to me his idea of the future on MMORPG's is to remove the RPG and replace it with cheap, throw away,15 minute content. Essentially the FPS/MOBA crowds idea of fun.

  6. The oddest thing about all this is that for the last few years almost every think-piece from every analyst looking at the sector has been banging on about this being the "last generation" of gaming consoles. Indeed, there were plenty of people predicting that for the previous iteration. That hasn't changed much: here's The Motley Fool earlier this year Why the Sony PS4 and Microsoft X-Box One may be the last consoles you ever buy

    Of course, no-one is suggesting that's because the PC will rule supreme. That, too, has been on its last legs according to futurologists for some years now. I guess the plan is to stand in the middle of the ice-flow as it melts, poised to leap in any direction should dry land appear.

    1. OOoohh... Wondered what that screen capture was about... heh

      -- 7rlsy


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