Weeklies – Oligarchgate (The One About Daybreak)

861 wc

Not much gaming to report this week. I’m on a Secret World Legends break. I’ve mainly been dabbling in Elder Scrolls Online (trying to record the Orsinium storyline; much like with Morrowind, I messed up and have to restart it).

Since @Sypster has been talking up Dungeons & Dragons Online for a while, I thought I would check it out again myself. I’ve played DDO before, and enjoyed it, but I haven’t had it installed in years (computer forensic evidence suggests since 2015). So I downloaded it and tried to login. It won’t let me play using the SSG account I use for LotRO. It tells me I need a subscription. It’s a free-to-play game. DDO isn’t listed on my SSG account and I can’t find any way to add it. I had to create a new SSG account to play DDO, which apparently is what they recommend now. That is dumb. My characters weren’t very high level and I can’t even remember what classes they were, but I didn’t think they deserved to be erased completely. Anyway I ended up playing for about 20 minutes and, while I remembered why I enjoyed it, there are plenty of other enjoyable games for me to play right now.

Unfortunately DDO in-game is considerably more washed out than this screenshot.

In The News

Daybreak just can’t seem to catch a (day)break. Ha-ha. Ha. Ahem. It was reported Tuesday that the U.S. Treasury seized assets from Russian oligarch* Viktor Vekselberg, who has a connection with Columbus Nova, the company behind Daybreak Games. The fear being that it will negatively impact EverQuest and/or EverQuest II (or even LotRO and DDO, since Daybreak publishes those games.) A press uproar developed when Daybreak denied they were ever owned by Columbus Nova.** It seemed to be the most exciting thing to happen in the world of MMORPG journalism since Watergate. I don’t have much of a stake in this so I’ll let others do all the Googling to fill in the gory details: MMOGames, TAGN, Inventory Full, MMORPG.com.  Updates, commentary: MassivelyOP Followup, MMOGames Followup, Contains Moderate Peril, MassivelyOP Poll, Keen, Nosy Gamer. The plot thickens as MassivelyOP reports Daybreak layoffs, then, in an addendum, after days of telling us how big Daybreak’s lies are, corroborates Daybreak’s story. And if that wasn’t confusing enough, MMORPG.com reports Daybreak may be in acquisition talks. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Daybreak was responsible for faking the moon landings. The ultimate fate of the games still remains unknown, but smart money is probably on no changes at least for a while.

Followup: I’m listening to MassivelyOP’s special podcast on The Daybreak Incident this morning (Friday) and Bree said, “…which is what the Daybreak representative was demanding that we remove.” (11:30) Now I understand why MassivelyOP seemed to fixate on this “gaslighting” “coverup” story so doggedly and unobjectively and, previously to my eye, inexplicably.

The missing behind the scenes piece of the puzzle seems to be that Daybreak asked the press to change their stories too. I can certainly understand why that would raise hackles. “They kind of tried to throw the press under the bus at the same time, so at this point I’m starting to get kind of ticked off.” (24:30) That part of the story was not covered in any those links above. “…to the point that literally people believed they were in cahoots with the bad guys.” (33:24) I can’t speak for anyone else, but I never once believed any of these actions pointed to Daybreak being criminally involved with a Russian oligarch*.

UPDATES: MJ wrote a heartfelt editorial on MassivelyOP. Even TAGN sounds like he’s losing hope.

Belgium tells game companies to get rid of lockboxes or else. It sounds like a slam dunk for the forces of good over evil, but I feel like the obvious response from the affected game companies here is going to be to simply forbid Belgians from playing these games. They won’t be able to reliably block IPs of course, but it seems like they would just need to update the terms of service to say, “Belgium residents may not play this game,” and add a checkbox to the sign-up page that says something like, “I certify that I am not Belgian.” Beyond any of that, there’s this, translated from another recent ruling in the Netherlands: “It is forbidden to offer this type of games of chance without a license to the Dutch players.” So it seems to me that the game companies could just get the proper license, and keep on trucking.

Executive producer Andie Nordgren is leaving CCP. I don’t know enough about EVE to know what this means but it seems important enough to mention.

* You can just say businessman.

** Even I remember the Columbus Nova announcement from 2015, so I went back and updated my own post on the Daybreak announcement to include a screenshot and the text of that announcement.

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