Landmark to Close on February 21st
It was announced yesterday by the Daybreak Game Company that the MMO Landmark will be closing on 21st of February. Landmark joins an ever-growing list of titles that have closed since DGC acquired SOEs back catalogue. As ever the press release does not give any specific details as to why the game is to be shutdown. However, it is more than likely down to operating costs versus profits. Furthermore, irrespective of the corporate reasons for the decision, there are still numbers of Landmark players who will be saddened by the news. This development is also of interest to LOTRO and DDO players, due to the Daybreak Game Company recently becoming the publisher of those titles.
Now if you peruse the comments section of a site such as Massively OP, then you’ll find statements such as “LOTRO is fine” and there’s nothing to be concerned about because DGC is just the publisher for Standing Stone Games. However, I don’t think the situation is as binary as that and it would be wise to scrutinise the business relationship between DGC and SSG more closely. Because I and others suspect that DGC may well have underwritten SSG costs, when they acquired both DDO and LOTRO from Turbine and Warner Bros. If that is the case, then such financial involvement give DGC far more leverage with SSG than merely publishing their gaming catalogue.
Too many gamers allow personal sentiment and affection for the games that they play to blind them to the realities of business. MMOs as I have said time and time again are not social services but products to be bought and sold for money. The moment any product doesn't meet the expectations its owners, then it's future is in question. I would have thought that was abundantly clear by the way Warner Bros. cut LOTRO and DDO loose, as they organise their balance sheet for their pending acquisition with AT&T. Why should the Daybreak Gaming Company, itself a subsidiary of a Russian venture capital company, view its assets any differently?
Game Developers often have the best of intentions for the products they make. Artistic vision and ethical practises may well be key to their business ethos. However, unless those that create have total financial and therefore legal control, then such noble aspirations can and are frequently side-lined. In my experience business is usually driven by those who control the purse strings, which once again returns me to the question of whether DGC are merely SSGs publisher or is there a more complex business relationship? Are LOTRO and DDO going to be measured by criteria set by their developers or someone else? If these games survival is dependent on targets set by DGC, then their future may not be as rosy as some like to think.