How we got from there to here
Landmark started out in 2013 as a building tool for EQN. When the developers at SOE saw how fun it was to use they decided to make Landmark into a standalone game. They advertised Landmark as a social building game with the added benefit that players would be able to help build the world of Norath in EQN. As the development process went on, SOE removed the Everquest moniker from Landmark as it was proving to be a capable tool for more than just EQN. People were still helping build EQN but things like sci-fi and modern materials were being brought into the game.
Then SOE became Daybreak. After a significant downsizing and consolidation, production on Landmark halted in favor of EQN. To help clarify things, Senior Producer Terry Michaels published a letter to the fans of Landmark. Months went by with very little change in Landmark and the player base kept shrinking. Then with almost no warning, Daybreak announced that EverQuest Next was cancelled. While EQN may have been put to pasture, Landmark was given a new lease on life and started seeing significant updates including some EQ and EQN assets. With an aggressive timetable to launch by the end of Spring, Landmark made it’s official launch on June 10th.
Perception at war with reality
As soon as the launch of Landmark there were dozens of reviews added to Steam, many claiming that Landmark was cancelled or abandoned. Many more claiming that even if you bought it during early access that you had to buy it again. Many proclaiming that Landmark is bad because EQN was cancelled. Landmark’s mixed reviews that were a result of backlash from being put on the back burner quickly moved to mostly negative.
The only problem is that the vast majority of recent reviews aren’t even legitimate.
Clearly a game that has just been launched can’t be cancelled. There are official posts on the Landmark website explaining how you don’t have to buy it again if you paid for early access and numerous Twitter posts from the developers saying the same. The cancellation of EQN is, well it’s a completely different game and irrelevant – that’s like hating World of Warcraft because Titan was cancelled.
The clearly manufactured hate for Landmark is astounding. Ranging from the usual pile on that occurs when people are looking for excuses to be angry all the way to people actively giving people direction to buy and return the game to be able to write bad reviews.
Scrolling through hundreds of reviews yielded a few handfuls of reviews that appeared legitimate, most of which were positive even though they were down voted overwhelmingly. Half of the positive reviews had other players calling the reviewers “a paid shill”, “loser” and even telling them to kill themselves.
Why does it even matter
Part of the reason this phenomenon is so interesting is that there doesn’t seem to be any discernible objective to this coordinated attack. If the conspirators are successful then all they will perceptibly achieve is the failure of a game. Which in itself seems like an objective but why would it be worth the time and effort to manufacture reviews and misinform others if you have no desire to play a game? A reasonable person would just walk away from the game and never look back.
In the end I don’t think that success or failure is the objective, but power and control. The insults and threats remind me of people that harass reporters and writers because they don’t like what they say. In this case the culprits are fighting back as hard as they can against the idea that their point of view is wrong. Their perceptions must be validated, no matter how wrong they are in reality.
They will claim the game is dead and do everything they can to push people away from the game. When it finally is dead they can proclaim how they saw it coming to a chorus of I told you so. Of course they’ll never take responsibility for the hateful things they said and did to others along the way because they just see it as their privilege to do as they please because they were right after all.
Updated: For an additional point of view on the subject TechieMinx has posted a write up as well.