Sony Online Entertainment has been producing multiplayer games since 1995. In 1996 John Smedley took charge and the rest is pretty much history. The team went on to develop loads of online titles ranging from the EverQuest series to the ill-fated Star Wars Galaxies. More contemporary titles included Planetside 2 and the recent Early Access eyebrow-raiser, H1Z1.
SOE is now no longer a Sony subsidiary. In a very sudden announcement, Sony unveiled that they had sold off SOE to Columbus Nova. The team is also undergoing a name-change and will be known as Daybreak Game Company going forward.
Probably the most interesting thing to come out of this is that Daybreak Game Company will be an indie team, leaving them largely free to get on with developing their own online games. This means that they’ll be developing for mobile and Xbox consoles and not just Sony hardware and PC.
John Smedley remains at the helm of the team and had this to say:
“We are excited to join Columbus Nova’s impressive roster of companies. They have a proven track record in similar and related industries and we are eager to move forward to see how we can push the boundaries of online gaming. We will continue to focus on delivering exceptional games to players around the world, as well as bringing our portfolio to new platforms, fully embracing the multi-platform world in which we all live.”
According to industry analysts, Sony’s decision to sell-off SOE makes sense. Analysts have pointed towards SOE’s game design failing to fit with Sony’s current PlayStation focus and strategy; a number of previous SOE games have not appealed to the PlayStation audience, and the current game, H1Z1, has a definite PC appeal. It’ll be interesting to see how development of that game continues now that Daybreak is largely in control.