As usual whenever we post something about SOE I’ll preface this by saying both myself and Jason worked for Sony Online Entertainment during the Star Wars Galaxies days. While neither of us have worked there for several years, we still have friends who do and we keep up with what the company is doing.
This morning SOE announced on their forums and social media that they’ve been sold to an investment firm and are no longer under the Sony umbrella. This isn’t the first time a big change has happened to SOE, but it’s by far the biggest. The studio that began life as Verant Interactive was eventually absorbed into Sony and was a part of the Sony Pictures side of things. A few years ago SOE was moved to Sony Computer Entertainment as making games made more sense for them to be there than under the movie division. That’s why the PlayStation fanboys trying to downplay the SOE sale as not having to do anything with SCEA really have no clue what they’re talking about.
Even though most of their games were on PC, SOE had their fingers in the console side of Sony. Aside from the console-only games they made while under Sony Pictures, there’s of course the PS3/PS4 port of DC Universe Online as well as the PS3 version of the now-shuttered FreeRealms. After they were part of SCEA they also did some behind the scenes stuff for PSN. If you ever played PS Home, and misbehaved, chances are the person who disciplined you was working out of the CS department in SOE’s San Diego campus.
When the news was announced this morning, once the initial shock wore off of such a big change, I realized this change for SOE (now Daybreak) is actually a good thing.
When Jason and I left SOE the PlayStation 3 was still relatively new, and DCUO was still a ways off. At that time, while there were occasional layoffs, Sony was in better shape overall than they are now. PlayStation fanboys do not want to accept it, but Sony Corp isn’t doing to well outside of the console business. They’re bleeding money. They recently sold off their PC division, and the pressure is on Kaz Hirai to stop the bleeding anyway he can. That’s why there’ve been so many rumors of them selling off the film division…and the recent hack didn’t strengthen Sony’s side in any way.
In recent years, SOE has seen several rounds of layoffs and both of us have seen friends lose their jobs. This isn’t because SOE wasn’t making money, in fact their move toward F2P games has apparently worked out very well for them. But when they’re shackled to a corporation that’s not doing the best…things kind of roll down hill. I was actually worried Sony would pull the plug on them just to be completely free of the PC market, which is why I hadn’t played DCUO or EQII in quite a while. Why invest time in a MMO that’s just going to be shut down because the parent company shuts down the developer?
Now that SOE is free of Sony Corp completely, they have the freedom to put their F2P games wherever they want. They kept all of their IPs, which means we’ll definitely see the “Forgelight” engine games (PlanetSide 2, H1Z1, Landmark, and EQNext) show up on non-Sony platforms including Microsoft’s Xbox One. More people playing their games would just mean more money for Daybreak, so I’m kind of excited to see what they’ll do with that. Smed has already hinted at Xbox games, and the creative director of DCUO asked fans on twitter if they’d like to see an Xbox One version of that.
I think it’ll be pretty cool to be able to play a console version of PlanetSide 2 and not have to be stuck on the up and down PSN to do so.