Daybreak Games has announced plans to shut down Landmark on February 21, 2017. Users will not be able to access the game after this date, and they will not receive a refund for their purchase. Daybreak has openly stated that they have no plans to release or license the software for users to create their own servers, and will not authorize the operation of private servers, implying that they may take legal action against operators of private servers.
Released into a pay-gated Alpha test in 2014, Landmark was intended to be a voxel-based sandbox MMO in a similar fashion to Minecraft(but with pretty graphics and more precision). Landmark utilizes the same technology that was being used to develop Everquest Next, a project that was ultimately canceled shortly after Sony Online Entertainment was acquired by the investment firm Columbus Nova.
When Columbus Nova acquired Sony Online Entertainment back in February 2015, the games department was renamed as “Daybreak Games Company”. Daybreak Games Company underwent a significant restructuring, laying off a significant portion of their staff, and canceling or modifying existing projects. Within the first two years of acquisition, Daybreak has shut down Planetside and Landmark, and canceled Everquest Next.
The intent of these executive decisions seem to be for the sake of short-term profitability. Creating an MMORPG, especially one as ambitious as Everquest Next, requires a massive amount of capital to create. As Everquest Next promised technologies and features never seen before in the genre, there’s a very high chance that it may not have turned out as expected.
In addition to the significant cost in creating a MMORPG, the PC MMORPG market has been declining in recent years. Returns on new western MMORPGs have been very poor, as we’ve seen with games such as Wildstar and Star Wars: The Old Republic. In the AAA western market, we’ve seen a large shift towards competitive, match based titles that carry the potential to become popular esports. Currently, most upcoming MMORPGs seem to be coming either from eastern countries such as Korea and China, or from indie developers with limited funding.
In terms of profitability, there’s often a much better ROI when investing in mobile games, as they require very little development cost in comparison to PC MMORPGs, but still carry significant earning potential. Mobile gamers are generally much more tolerant of game-changing microtransactions than PC gamers, and have much lower expectations regarding the depth and quality of games on the platform.
Overall, Columbus Nova is likely not willing to take the financial risks associated with creating a high cost title such as a MMORPG. Their goal seems to be to squeeze as much revenue as possible out of existing titles, while significantly reducing costs to improve profit margins. While this works great for short-term returns, it does raise questions about the distant future of the company. How will their revenue look when their existing titles inevitably lose popularity due to development budget cuts, and competition from other games? Daybreak Games seems very risk adverse when it comes to developing new products or maintaining failing ones. While capital investment is inherently risky, pocketing profits instead of reinvesting it in the company seems like a recipe for failure.
Currently, Daybreak Games publishes and manages the following games:
- H1Z1: King of the Kill
- H1Z1: Just Survive
- Planetside 2
- Everquest 2
- DC Universe Online
Link to the official announcement: https://www.landmarkthegame.com/news/important-news-about-landmark-2017