A few days ago Enad Global 7 revealed that current CEO Robin Flodin is leaving the video game holding company and is being temporarily replaced by Ji Ham as acting CEO. For EverQuest gamers, the Flodin was a brief breath of fresh air who seemed actively interested seeing the full potential of the EverQuest franchise realized.
It seems Robert Flodin sold some stock in the company for personal reasons and took advantage of the hype surrounding their purchase of Daybreak Games which he helped to manufacture and cashed out. Perhaps this is why he was asked to leave as some veteran EQ players have speculated.
Many EQ veterans got to know the charismatic Robert Flodin via his dynamic video presentations where he demonstrated enthusiastic appreciation for the legacy of EverQuest. In the brief time that his company owned the EverQuest franchise, it seemed like he actually cared about the fans and the games in the EG7 stable. Maybe it was all an act to hype the company’s stock prices.
His temporary replacement is the reclusive Ji Ham. Not much is known about him. There are no public photographs of him available on the Internet or on his LinkedIn page. While he claims to have a video gaming background, there are no details about what that is. I have never heard him speak or seen any of his writings on video games except boilerplate platitudes. I suspect the only passion Ji Ham has about video games is due to their ability to earn profits.
Ji Ham has never directly addressed the EverQuest community in an open letter or shown one iota of reciprocal passion for our beloved and venerable MMORPG. As far as EQ players are concerned, Ji Ham is a disappointing, uninspired, undistinguished, absentee custodian of the storied franchise.
The general consensus is that EverQuest and EverQuest 2 have been in maintenance mode since SOE sold the franchise to Daybreak Games when unknown Ji Ham came into the picture. There are only a handful of developers working on EverQuest right now. This means that Daybreak Games is spending as little as possible on the development of EverQuest while deriving the maximum profit potential from their players as they continue to milk them with various despicable play to win schemes such as purchasable Krono, loot boxes and potions for sale Daybreak Games in-game cash shop. This is good for investors but bad for players.
Holding companies like EG7 purchase video game intellectual properties as investments. They hope some of them will be profitable even if most of them will not be. All they need are a few winners to payoff, then they discard the losers. Rinse and repeat. These companies see video games as a commodity. They have no passion for gamers and could care less. These holding companies are intellectual property parasites who never invest in new ideas and instead leverage the risk, blood, sweat, and tears of others while they line their pockets.
Under the woeful stewardship of Daybreak Games, the San Diego and Austin based studio has allowed the EverQuest franchise to atrophy while taking advantage of the loyalty of their players by offering overpriced, value-menu sized, bug ridden expansions. The ossified skeleton crew at Daybreak Games does one thing and only one thing well: they excel at mediocrity.
In a recent video interview with Monsters & Memories boss Shawn Lord, former Daybreak Games developer Jeff Butler came out of hibernation and recently revealed that the EverQuest franchise was more profitable than any other product the entire SONY corporation has ever released. This astounding claim begs the questions:
Why has SOE and then Daybreak Games failed to fully exploit the legacy of this incredibly valuable intellectual property?
Why has it been 17 years since the last EverQuest themed game was released?
Why did Sony Online Entertainment CEO John Smedley consistently fail to create a new version of EverQuest?
I expect Ji Ham will stay true to form and continue to fly under the radar and be invisible as the interim CEO for EG7. The CEO title will be another notch in his belt. He knows as much about video games as I know about brain surgery and maybe that’s an argument for having him do nothing and not spoil the broth.
The only hope for the future of the EverQuest franchise is that Enad Global 7 will find a new CEO who has some semblance of authentic passion for MMOs and create a new version of EverQuest. (Apparently J. Allen Brack is available and ready to mingle!) I have every reason to believe this will not happen and instead we’ll get another money grubbing suit. As Pete Townshend remarked in The Who’s classic rock anthem We Don’t Get Fooled Again:
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.