The New York-based investment firm has purchased Sony Online Entertainment, which is responsible for massively multiplayer online games like “EverQuest,” “PlanetSide” and “DC Universe Online” for an undisclosed amount.
SOE isn’t as high profile as in its EverQuest heyday, but it’s settled in as one of the biggest players in free-to-play triple-A games. President John Smedley discusses why he thinks SOE’s headed in the right direction.
Most company presidents spent E3 locked in meeting rooms, only getting a few sparse moments to explore the show floor. Not Sony Online Entertainment’s John Smedley. He actively spent time in the thick of things — though he rarely strayed far from his own booth.
Smedley’s a heavy FPS fan — and he’s especially enamored with SOE’s upcoming action MMO Planetside 2. That professed dedication isn’t unusual when an executive has a product to sell, but few of those executives arrive to E3 2.5 hours early so they can sneak in a couple hours of gameplay, and lob trash talk at other players.
Unfortunately, it often is.
EverQuest will drop its mandatory monthly pricing strategy in March, as the game hits its impressive 13th birthday — though like other free-to-play games Sony Online Entertainment currently distributes, there will be a tiered pricing plan for players who want more features and content.
Walking away from a free online game, after all, is a pretty easy thing to do. There’s no nagging voice in the back of your head doing the math and informing you of how much money you’ve invested in a game you’re no longer obsessed with. When it’s free, the stakes are low, though often so is the payoff.
Gamasutra editor at large Chris Morris talks to Sony Online Entertainment’s John Smedley about the next generation of EverQuest, NGP development and why “You can bet our future is more console-based than it is PC-based.”
Before Thursday, there was a lot to talk about when it came to Sony Online Entertainment. Then the layoffs hit – and there was only one subject on people’s minds.
Unfortunately, my talk with SOE president John Smedley was held on Tuesday – long before even the rumors of layoffs had begun to swirl. And, not surprisingly, SOE wasn’t making him available after shutting down three of its studios and laying off 205 employees. So while there’s no look as to what led up to the Thursday axings, Smedley was still willing to look into the company’s future in the days leading up to it.
205 of the roughly 700 SOE employees received pink slips Thursday as the company shut down three development studios in Denver, Seattle and Tucson. One long-in-development title was also cancelled.
SOE was hit hard by a devastating round of downsizing that resulted in one-third of the workforce being laid off and three studios closed. THQ cut more than 30 jobs at two of its studios, but both remain open.
The company has closed three development studios and laid off 205 of its roughly 700 employees amid growing competition in the space and the increasing number of alternate gaming platforms, such as the iPhone and Facebook.