Sony Sells Off Studio Behind Everquest, H1Z1

Sony Sells Off Studio Behind Everquest, H1Z1

After almost 20 years, the Sony Online Entertainment studio is no longer part of Sony. Sounds like we’ll be seeing games like EverQuest and H1Z1 on the Xbox soon.

SOE announced its independence in a press release this afternoon, saying it had been purchased by a New York-based management firm called Columbus Nova and that it will now be an independent developer.

Since it can’t call itself Sony anymore — and “Online Entertainment” isn’t quite as catchy — it has picked a totally new name. Meet Daybreak Game Company.

Given the studio’s newfound independence from the makers of PlayStation, you’d expect them to want to make games for that *other* console, and you’d be totally right. Says the press release (emphasis mine):

With the completion of the transaction, SOE will now operate as an independent game development studio and will continue to focus on creating quality online games, providing excellent service to its extensive player base, while centering on its untapped potential as a multi-platform online gaming company.

That’s right: they’re making Xbox games now. Check out this tweet from newly christened Daybreak president John Smedley:

An SOE representative also talked multiplatform releases on the company’s official forums, where the announcement first hit:

Today, we are pleased to announce that we have been acquired by Columbus Nova, an investment management firm well known for its success with its existing portfolio of technology, media and entertainment focused companies. This means that effective immediately SOE will operate as an independent game development studio where we will continue to focus on creating exceptional online games for players around the world, and now as a multi-platform gaming company. Yes, that means PlayStation and Xbox, mobile and more!

Originally founded as a Sony internal development studio back in the mid-90s, SOE has long been known for creating EverQuest, one of the most popular and influential MMORPGs. (The game was so addictive, people took to calling it EverCrack.) They also worked on online games like The Matrix Online, Star Wars Galaxies, and the ongoing sci-fi game PlanetSide.

The studio’s big current projects are the zombie game H1Z1 and the MMORPG EverQuest Next, both of which will now presumably be developed for Xbox as well as PlayStation.


  • Not a single mention of one of their other big and long-running games DC Universe Online (which is already on both PC and PlayStation) and whether they’re going to retain the DC licence?

    And there’s the also in EA game Landmark too.

    • Article doesn’t include the full statement. If you follow the link you’ll see this,

      “So what exactly does this mean for you? It will be business as usual and all SOE games will continue on their current path of development and operation. In fact, we expect to have even more resources available to us as a result of this acquisition. It also means new exciting developments for our existing IP and games as we can now fully embrace the multi-platform world we are living in.”

      BAU, for now. DCUO seems to be fairly well liked – or at least not constantly reviled and mocked – so I don’t see any reason for any of the parties (DC, Daybreak, Columbus Nova) to turn it off.

  • That tweet is clearly a shot fired across Sony’s bow! Not exactly the most amicable breakup.

    • Enh, I more see it as genuine excitement (seriously, this platform exclusivity bullshit is getting pretty old), and a really good way to mollify quite a few naysayers.

      ie: “Oh god, change! Change is bad, what’s happening?”
      “Something AWESOME is happening. SOE games on Xbone!”
      “Oooooh. Well before I was afraid [I was petrified], now I’m excited.”

      • I’d be inclined to agree if Smedley wasn’t a smug bastard. I suspect he knew what he was doing.

        I agree wholeheartedly on platform exclusivity though. It needs to die. Despite roundabout attempts at justification, there are almost no benefits to the consumer.

        • Oh, for sure, I have no doubt he knew it would change the conversation completely.

          But it’s possible to be both. 🙂

    • Looks like an expected path given their independence and future plans, I don’t see how it’s a shot.
      Sony sold them, now they can branch out, best to announce that as soon as possible to attract attention and possible investment. “Hey guys, we can make games for others now…hint hint”

      If things weren’t amicable they prob wouldn’t have stated that they will keep developing for Playstation

  • H1Z1 on the Xbox soon………….. and this is why hz1z should have never seen the light of day on pc. game is just rubbish with 10 year old graphics.

  • I enjoyed the complexity of EQ/EQ2 (in comparsion to some MMO’s) and was looking forward to EQ Next.
    Now I’m bracing for low graphics quality and a dumbed down game designed to be played on a controller. 🙁

  • So does this mean new devs? Because I have to say Landmark and H1Z1 are pretty crappy at the moment. I was expecting a lot more from H1Z1 – how hard is it to make a good freaking zombie survival game, I haven’t found one that isn’t in early access and doesn’t blow. Dayz has gotten better, but still they aren’t going to finish that game until 2016.

    • I hear Dying Light is pretty good. Fixes a lot of the problems Dead Island had. I haven’t played it yet, mind you, so I can’t say for sure. And it’s not an MMO.

      • Oh yeah, Dying light is actually pretty good and fun – reminds me more of Far Cry + zombies. It isn’t a ‘survival’ + multi game in the same vein as H1Z1 and Dayz etc.

        • Ah, true. I think I just skimmed over the word ‘survival’ in your post. I don’t know any good capital-S survival zombie games, to be honest. Everyone obsesses over DayZ but I found it buggy as hell and completely trivialised the zombies. It’s an arsehole survival game, not a zombie survival game.

      • I’ve seen some let’s plays, and it’s starting to look like totally my jam. Looks like they’ve borrowed a little of the Ubisoft tower-unlocking formula, though. Which… is also my jam.

        • Yeah they have definitely borrowed a bit from those series. As for the tower action – so far that has only really been for a story quest, and maybe one or two safe houses. Safe houses are scattered all over the map and are unlock by doing a few different things – not really set up like the towers from the Ubisoft games. It’s pretty fun though, unlocking abilities, collecting and craft new cool weapons. Night time you poo your pants a little, but in a good way (if that’s possible) 😛

  • I know this is wishful thinking, but does this mean that Planetside 2 may eventually come out on x1? That game was one of the main reasons that I bought a ps4.

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