|Picture courtesy of Massively (somewhat ironically)|
Sony sold Sony Online Entertainment to a holding company and it became Daybreak Games Company. This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. It makes sense that they would like to go into both XBox and mobile gaming and neither works so well with Sony as their owner. However, because this is a holding company and they typically want to see changes and profits quickly, the announcement was very quickly followed by the announcement of large and significant layoffs.
President John Smedley says that work on Everquest Next and their other projects continues, but I would expect one of two things to happen. It is possible that the buyers see EQ Next as a large source of potential profits and the schedule gets accelerated. As someone who works in software, I know that sometimes lower scope and delivering something more quickly is the right thing to do and that might happen here. However, there is a high likelihood that the smaller scope alienates much of their fanbase and possibly the more likely outcome is that it gets cancelled.
AAA MMOs are so expensive and complicated that most of them end up having disappointing releases. If you look at the potential profits in mobile gaming and MOBAs compared to the cost, MMOs are a huge risk. I'd expect to see something in the mobile arena pretty quickly. Hopefully it won't just be a Hearthstone, League of Legends, or Clash of Clans clone, but those would be the most obvious choices. A console game is also on the wish list. They already produced Champions of Norrath but that was more than 10 years ago. My personal feeling is that the prospects for Everquest Next have gotten worse. It will either be rushed and not the revolution SOE proclaimed it to be or cancelled.
The other huge change was the closure of Joystiq, publishers of both Massively and WoW Insider by AOL. I've decided to save that for another post.