The EverQuest Franchise Has No Future As Long as Enad Global 7, Ji Ham, and Darkpaw Games Are Involved

As the 25th anniversary of EverQuest approaches in 2024, it’s time to reflect on the state of the franchise. EverQuest was released in April of 1999 and was one of the first MMORPGs to exist in a 3D world. It was a high fantasy virtual world that was a combination of J.R.R. Tolkien and Dungeons & Dragons tropes with addictive highly refined MUD progression elements. All those factors combined with the fact that you could play online cooperatively with thousands of other players made it an instant hit.

When EQ was released I had been playing video games since the introduction of the Atari 2600 and Pong in pinball arcades. I grew up as the early milestones of video game history unfolded.

As with most EverQuest articles I write, I feel compelled to mention that this fantasy virtual world impacted my life in ways that no mere video game could. This was because of the online nature of the experience and the social interdependence that was required to survive and thrive in the fantasy world of Norrath. The camaraderie that was an unexpected by-product of playing EQ was the rare magic and stickiness that kept us coming back. MMORPGs became an addictive online social experience where one could overcome their shyness and awkwardness and become a towering mighty warrior or a sly devious rogue.

Over the years, I’ve written so many articles on EQ that I’ve lost count. So I do not want to spend time treading on familiar ground. Nonetheless, it’s important to set the stage to explain why so many of us still care about a weird, obscure, addictive online video game that came out 25 years ago. People who never played EQ back then will never know what it’s like to have been hit by the fantasy virtual world thunderbolt.

The State of the EverQuest Franchise

The current state of the EverQuest franchise is not good. Darkpaw recently rolled out a disastrous upgrade to DirectX 11 which has not been well received by the players. As DirectX 11 was released in 2009 (the same year Studio Head Jen Chan was hired), why is Darkpaw just getting around to upgrading the EQ engine to DX11 in 2024? The level of sheer incompetence and negligence at this studio is mind-boggling.

It gets worse.

Last week the uninspired 2024 Roadmap for EverQuest was released by Darkpaw Games and featured in PC Gamer magazine. From what I can see, it is a major disappointment as nothing substantive is being done to celebrate the 25th anniversary. No convention or fan meetup is planned. Nothing. Instead, we see more of the same vapid virtue-signaling nonsense as more PRIDE pets are promised courtesy of the sexual deviants and sodomites who work at Darkpaw.

Massively Overpowered reported on this a few days ago and so far has one comment. Even the woke regulars at MOP are not impressed by the underwhelming news.

With only three products, EverQuest, EverQuest 2, and the now-defunct EverQuest Online Adventures: we must acknowledge that they never had much of a franchise. The term franchise suggests that intellectual property has been properly leveraged to produce the maximum financial results for all stakeholders. EverQuest failed on all accounts.

World of Warcraft was the True Successor to EverQuest

Created by Verant and then sold to Sony Online Entertainment, the EQ franchise has a checkered past. From 1999 to 2004, it was the king of the hill only to be dethroned by the magnificent World of Warcraft. EverQuest was all but obliterated by Blizzard’s WoW. The child eclipsed its parent.

Many of the original dev team who brought Azeroth to life were hardcore EverQuest players who adored traditional high fantasy RPGs. The creation of WoW was instigated by EQ players who realized its magic and instinctively knew they could make a better MMORPG than SOE. Blizzard had the right IP, studio culture, and proper studio methodology to take the idea of a fantasy MMORPG and bring it to a polished state where it was embraced by the world. At its peak, WoW had 13 million subscribers, compared to tens of thousands that EQ had.

If we are honest about the inability of the franchise to take off, we must concede that EverQuest was a lucky accident and a fluke.

So what went wrong?

Sony Online Entertainment and John Smedley: A Legacy of Failure

The failure of EQ to self-actualize and the state of the franchise in 2024 is largely the result of one person: John Smedley. Other than the original EverQuest, he has a litany of failures that adorn his resume. Despite his terrible track record, somehow this pied piper with a larger-than-life personality has managed to continue to lead studios and ultimately has nothing to show for it.

Other games he has made have ended up canceled like the ambitious kid-friendly Free Realms which I thought was a great MMO but probably failed because it was ahead of its time.

The core problem with Smedley is that never internalized the lessons of Blizzard’s success which are factors such as studio culture, gamers making games, releasing no product until it’s ready and easy to learn, and hard-to-master philosophies. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. The studio culture at SOE was toxic and riddled with top-heavy managerial bureaucracy and the diseases of nepotism and cronyism.

Smedley also presided over the disgraceful EverQuest Next debacle. Just thinking about EQ Next and how SOE created a fake tech demo and had no idea how to execute their ideas, but bilked thousands of enthusiastic supporters with their money and passion makes my blood boil.

We must also assign blame to Sony Online Entertainment. Their bloated quasi-Japanese corporate culture, their stodgy upper management, and their failure to develop EverQuest can not be underestimated as critical elements that contributed to the dysfunction. The fact that Sony Online Entertainment no longer exists today proves my point.

Timing is Everything

Even if a new EverQuest video game had all the funding, all the talent, the right studio, and a phenomenal design document, they can never turn back the hands of time, and make up for 24 years of neglect. Time waits for no man.

If Enad Global 7 ever bothers to announce that a new EQ online world is forthcoming — which they alluded to in a recent investor presentation — we know that the earliest we can expect it will be in 2028. That’s a total of 4 years of development time. Even with advances in AI which could speed up asset creation and coding, that’s a very optimistic time frame. 2030 is more of a realistic ETA for a new version of EverQuest.

Hundreds of years ago, in his play Julius Caesar, Shakespeare gave us some wisdom for the ages about the importance of timing and opportunity:

“There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.”

I earnestly believe it’s too late to resurrect the EverQuest franchise. The window of opportunity was around 2020 when Holly Longdale was still in charge and passionate. Enad Global 7 and Daybreak Games were so inept and negligent that Longdale left the studio the first chance she got. Many other veteran EQ developers followed and left Daybreak during that same time frame leaving a bunch of useless lazy halfwits who now comprise the laughable skeleton crew at DarkPaw Games.

Ji Ham: Investment Banker with Zero Knowlege of Video Games

Running a close second in the incompetence department with John Smedley is Ji Ham. Ham is a Korean investment banker who along with his partner Jason Epstein, purchased the EQ franchise from SOE in 2017. All of the subsequent screwups and missed opportunities to fully exploit the franchise lay at his doorstep.

Ham is no Steve Jobs. Not even close. Ham will never be remembered as one of the gaming greats. He will be remembered for purchasing the corpse of EverQuest and keeping it barely alive to drain as much money from their dwindling number of players for his rapacious Swedish overlords. Ham is not a visionary, he’s not a risk-taker. He’s a soulless corporate suit who behaves like an intellectual property body snatcher.

Ham was in charge when Daybreak Games shelved their plans to make a new EverQuest. Ham was in charge when Holly Longdale and most of the A-list talent at Darkpaw saw the bleak writing on the wall and finally had enough and left for Blizzard and Amazon Games. More great talent has left Darkpaw Games than has been brought to the studio. The reputation of the notorious studio is so awful that nobody wants to work for them. Those that do, soon leave for greener and saner pastures.

The fact that you may own a video game studio does not make you knowledgeable about video games, just like owning an automobile does not confer you any special knowledge of how the internal combustion engine works.

The truth is, that Ji Ham knows nothing about video games. Owning a video game company does not mean you understand what differentiates a good game from a bad one. Ham understands banking and stock prices, but he has no clue when it comes to video games. If he does, he keeps his knowledge and acumen well hidden.

To my knowledge, Ham has never written an essay, published a book, given a substantive interview, or given a talk about video games and/or MMORPGs from a design and community standpoint. How can you believe in a man that believes in nothing? Like his Swedish colleagues at Enad Global 7, he’s an empty suit who dabbles in an industry he knows practically nothing about.

Who is In Charge of the Future of EverQuest?

We can only assume that Daybreak Games who is the parent company of Darkpaw is in charge. There is not one person who works there with the reputation, knowledge, or gravitas that I would trust to helm the future of EQ. Not one developer at Darkpaw has distinguished themselves in any meaningful way.

Given the fact that they were bequeathed the legacy of EverQuest which was a ground-breaking masterpiece, Darkpaw Games is arguably the worst, most dysfunctional, most corrupt MMORPG studio in history. Darkpaw mirrors the same paucity of leadership and lack of talent as Daybreak Games and Enad Global 7. I can’t think of a video game studio with more contempt for its players than Darkpaw Games, led by an androgynous woke weirdo named Jennifer Chan.

The developers of EverQuest are notorious for their mediocrity, their stupidity, their lack of creativity, their arrogance, and their ivory tower mentality. By all accounts, they do not even play EQ in their spare time. This attitude of brazen contempt for their players has trickled down to everyone who works there including their incompetent anti-social vindictive community manager.

The EverQuest community of players is very passionate and loyal. However, those qualities are not reciprocated in the least by those in charge at Daybreak and Darkpaw. Instead, faithful players are treated like adversaries instead of stakeholders, partners, and collaborators.

The EverQuest MMORPG Creative Director Position

A recent job posting by Daybreak Games for a creative directory was made 6 months ago. The position is presumably for someone to helm a new EverQuest-themed video game or MMORPG. According to LinkedIn, that listing has attracted 48 applicants. The person who manages to land this role might be the driving force for the new EverQuest MMORPG.

The question is: who is screening and interviewing these applicants?

Given their legacy of failure, incompetence, and dysfunction, the staff at Daybreak and Darkpaw are the last people who should be involved in charting the course for the future of this beloved franchise.

In an age where gamers are seen as partners and stakeholders with community-driven game development like Greg Streets’ upcoming Ghost MMORPG from Fantastic Pixel Castle — no attempt has been made by Ji Ham, Enad Global 7, Daybreak Games, or Darkpaw Games to reach out to current and former EQ alumni and players to share their hopes and dreams for a new reimagined EverQuest. Failing to leverage the crowdsourced wisdom of your fanbase is a terrible mistake.

Developers who do not play EverQuest and simultaneously despise their players should have no say in the future of the franchise.


Almost everything I wrote about in this article would never be allowed on the official EverQuest forums. Players have the right to have their voices heard but the tyrannical censorship regime currently in control at Daybreak Games will not allow this. Since the developers are being shielded from feedback, they are living in a Fool’s Paradise.

For the past 25 years players have been marginalized and disenfranchised by gatekeeping forum moderators who want to control the narrative. MMO blogs, fan forums, and other independent websites sprung up because players felt their voices were not being heard and the notion of free speech was discarded. Necessity is the mother of invention.

As one of the last holdouts who wanted to see a new Norrath emerge before I die, I now believe it will never happen. Darkpaw Games does not have the creativity, the spirit of innovation, the talent, and the studio culture required to pull this off. Even if a new EveQuest manages to come our way, whatever they create you can be sure that it will most likely be sub-standard and riddled with California identity politics, wokeness, and LGBTQ pandering.

Enad Global 7 under the leadership of Ji Ham is another red flag that signals the future of EverQuest is at best grim and worst vaporware. A few years ago he promised to update the user interface of their Lord of the Rings Online MMORPG, but changed his mind after Amazon’s Rings of Power flopped. Therefore, Ham cannot be trusted to follow through on his promises. A real man keeps his word.

You can be sure that after a few months of widespread massive layoffs and cancellations in the AAA video game industry, I will guarantee you that — the risk-averse investment banker posing as a gaming CEO — Ji Ham has once again put his finger up to determine the prevailing direction of the wind and shelved all of his plans for a new EverQuest.

Enad Global 7 is not a company that inspires gamers. Instead, they do the opposite: they terrify gamers. EG 7 is a cancer in the video game industry that buys beloved games and then puts profits first and gamers second. They take advantage of the loyalty of their players by milking them dry with a steady supply of rapacious monetization schemes and empty promises.

The announcement for a new EveQquest should have come around 2020. That was the perfect window of opportunity. We are already into 2024 and we still have no official word of a new EQ and they have yet to hire their creative director for this proposed MMO. Those are just more red flags that Enad Global 7 and Daybreak Games do not have their act together.

Finally, we need to talk about the public awareness of EverQuest in the zeitgeist. Most new gamers don’t even know what EverQuest is. I wager most current World of Warcraft players don’t know what EQ is.

Here’s a Google trends chart that shows the downward trajectory of the search term EverQuest between 2004 and 2024. (Note: Since Google was formed in 2004 no accurate records exist of search inquiries before then.)

This lack of interest regarding EverQuest from the gaming public looks appears to be an insurmountable problem. The only way they could fix this is if they embrace a community-driven development philosophy and marketing strategy where players are seen as collaborators and ambassadors instead of adversaries and enemies. EverQuest players are far more emotionally invested in EQ than the drones who work at Darkpaw, Daybreak, and Enad Global 7.

Darkpaw’s current attitude toward their players gives me no hope that they possess the humility and wisdom to appreciate and enact such a progressive strategy. The only way a new EQ can succeed is with the support of the current people who play EQ. Even then, many EQ veterans are set in their ways and would probably see a new EQ as a threat.

Since they refuse to have meaningful dialogue with players and the public, it is highly doubtful that anyone with power at Enad Global 7 and Daybreak Games has any appreciation of modern game development techniques. They are set in their ways. Therefore concept of customer engagement and customer satisfaction is completely lost on them.

Perhaps no new version of EverQuest should come ever out. Chances are that woke non-binary Darkpaw will vandalize Norrath and disembowel its lore beyond recognition. No males and females will be allowed either. You can be reasonably sure that a new EQ would be an unpalatable smorgasbord of alphabet propaganda and other woke nonsense.

I’m afraid the only hope for the future of EverQuest is if it is sold to another studio. For that to happen, loyal EQ players would have to stop playing and funding Darkpaw and vote with their wallets. Many of them are so hopelessly addicted that I doubt they have the discipline to do this.

If every current EQ and EQ 2 player boycotted Darkpaw, the money would stop rolling in and Ji Ham would notice. Instead of pausing for reflection, he would most likely sell the studio — hopefully to Elon Musk or a studio that cared about the franchise — and that would be the best trajectory for the EverQuest franchise one could hope for.

Unless a miracle happens, I’m officially done with EverQuest.


Latest Comments

  1. AnonEntity January 31, 2024