Almost three years after its announcement, development has stopped on the next iteration of the long-lived Everquest MMO franchise.

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Daybreak Studios’ president Russ Shanks announced the news on the game’s official site:

I’m writing today to let you know that, after much review and consideration, Daybreak is discontinuing development of EverQuest Next.

For the past 20 years EverQuest has been a labor of love. What started as a deep passion of ours, as game creators, grew into a much larger passion shared by you, millions of players and Daybreakers alike. Watching EverQuest’s ability to entertain and bring people together has inspired and humbled us. It’s shaped our culture and has emboldened us to take aggressive risks with our game ideas and products. When we decided to create the next chapter in the EverQuest journey, we didn’t aim low. We set out to make something revolutionary.

For those familiar with the internals of game development, you know that cancellations are a reality we must face from time to time. Inherent to the creative process are dreaming big, pushing hard and being brutally honest with where you land. In the case of EverQuest Next, we accomplished incredible feats that astonished industry insiders. Unfortunately, as we put together the pieces, we found that it wasn’t fun. We know you have high standards when it comes to Norrath and we do too. In final review, we had to face the fact that EverQuest Nextwould not meet the expectations we – and all of you – have for the worlds of Norrath.

The future of the EverQuest franchise as a whole is important to us here at Daybreak.EverQuest in all its forms is near and dear to our hearts. EverQuest and EverQuest II are going strong. Rest assured that our passion to grow the world of EverQuest remains undiminished.

EverQuest Next was an ambitious attempt to evolve the franchise. The first phase of that evolution was EverQuest Next Landmark, which was released as a beta in 2013. Landmark was focused on player creation, letting users craft huge structures and then sell the blueprints to each other.

EverQuest Next began development at Sony Online Entertainment, a corporate cousin to the PlayStation brand that was sold off last year to investment firm Columbus Nova and rebranded as Daybreak Studios. (Disclosure: As of last month, Daybreak owner Columbus Nova has a minority stake in our parent company, Gawker Media.)

In an interview with MMORPG, Shanks says that EverQuest and EverQuest II are still in active development. He also says that Daybreak will continue to explore ways to modernize EverQuest and notes the company’s current priorities:

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The future of the EverQuest franchise is important to our company and you have not seen the last of Norrath by any means. It’s just as engrained in our hearts as it is for our players. We helped usher in the era of MMOs because we loved the idea of bringing gamers together within the game worlds in massive numbers, and we’ve continued to build on that over our 20-year history. The adventures within the worlds of EQ and EQII continue unabated today, and there is plenty of room for more.

Right now, we are focused on launching Landmark, advancing H1Z1: Just Survive, bringing DC Universe Online to Xbox One players, and launching H1Z1: King of the Kill on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.


Contact the author at evan@kotaku.com.