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Daybreak Game Company (previously known as Sony Online Entertainment (SOE)) is a game development and former game publishing division of Sony that is best known for creating massively multiplayer online games, including EverQuest, EverQuest II, The Matrix Online, PlanetSide, Star Wars Galaxies, Free Realms, and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.

In 2008 Sony Online Entertainment’s game Everquest was honored (along with Neverwinter Nights and World of Warcraft) at the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for advancing the art form of MMORPG games.

In February 2015, SOE was acquired by Columbus Nova, renaming it to the "Daybreak Game Company". The company is no longer tied to Sony, but will continue expanding upon and maintaining existing SOE games.[1]

History

Sony online entertainment logo

Sony Online Entertainment and Verant's history can be seen as starting with Sony Interactive Studios America (SISA), an internal game development studio of Sony that formed around 1995. In 1996, John Smedley (known to the gaming community as "Smedley") was put in charge of SISA's development of an online computer role-playing game, or MMORPG that would evolve into EverQuest. Smed hired programmers Brad McQuaid and Steve Clover who had come to Smedley's attention through their work on the singleplayer RPG Warwizard.

In April 1998, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) was formed by merging parts of Sony Online Ventures with Sony Pictures Entertainment'. Within a matter of months after this change, Sony Interactive Studios America was renamed 989 Studios.

Towards the end of 1998, 989 Studios shifted its strategy to making PlayStation console games only. The company's computer game/online development branch spun off, initially calling itself RedEye Interactive and then soon after Verant Interactive. EverQuest launched with modest expectations from Sony on March 16, 1999 under its Verant Interactive brand and quickly became successful. Numbers continued rising at a steady rate until mid-2001 when growth slowed. As of 2004, Sony reported subscription numbers close to 450,000.

In April 2000, Verant hired former Ultima Online developers Raph Koster and Rich Vogel forming its office in Austin, Texas to develop Star Wars Galaxies for LucasArts. SOE acquired Verant in June 2000 and eventually promoted Brad McQuaid to be its Chief Creative Officer. EverQuest: The Ruins of Kunark (March 2000) was the first in a long list of expansions for its hit MMORPG. In October 2001, McQuaid resigned and went on to found Sigil Games Online, drawing many of the original developers of EverQuest from SOE to develop their Vanguard: Saga of Heroes MMORPG, released January 2007.

Developed by Sony Online Entertainment, LucasArts released Star Wars Galaxies in 2003, which saw rapid growth as expected. Bruce Woodcock estimates that SWG reached nearly 300,000 subscribers within the year before trailing off. LucasArts has released three expansions for Star Wars Galaxies, Jump to Lightspeed October 2004, Rage of the Wookies May 2005 and Trials Of Obi-Wan November 2005.

In 2003, the company also explored relatively untouched MMO territory with the MMOFPS PlanetSide and the PlayStation 2 MMORPG EverQuest Online Adventures. PlanetSide enjoyed a reasonably successful launch, however the product never attracted wide popularity. SOE has released two expansions for PlanetSide, one a retail product called Core Combat, and a second free expansion titled Aftershock. PlanetSide can be played for free under a "Reserves" program, that limits character advancement, but otherwise grants full access to the game. EverQuest Online Adventures was not as successful but spawned an expansion EverQuest Online Adventures Frontiers, which is still maintained by SOE as of 2007.

In November 2005, SOE added the New Game Enhancements to Star Wars Galaxies, changing some of the game's core mechanics. This upset some players, who demanded their money back for the recent expansion that was released just days before the announcement of the changes.

The company continued the EverQuest universe through a sequel set hundreds of years after the original with the release of EverQuest II on November 9, 2004, which has seen similar success to the original phenomenon. SOE has released several adventure packs and expansion packs for EverQuest II, including The Bloodline Chronicles March 2005, The Splitpaw Saga June 2005, Desert of Flames September 2005, Kingdom of Sky February 2006, The Fallen Dynasty June 2006, Echoes of Faydwer November 2006, Rise of Kunark November 2007 and The Shadow Odyssey November 2008. The next expansion Sentinel's Fate is announced for February 2010.

Through 2007, the company experienced many technical support issues causing a decrease in the number of players using their services.

Recent history

Currently, John Smedley is the CEO of Sony Online Entertainment. SOE is headquartered in San Diego, California, with additional game development studios located in Austin, Texas, Denver, Colorado and Seattle, Washington.

In January 2005, Sony Online Entertainment announced the creation of Station Publishing, a new label for distributing titles made by external developers.

SOE has produced numerous EverQuest expansions and spin-off video games, including Champions of Norrath (for PlayStation 2) and Lords of EverQuest (Windows). They published the sequel to Champions of Norrath, called Champions: Return to Arms, in February 2005.

In August 2005 SOE entered a deal with Warner Bros. Entertainment which saw the acquisition and transition of The Matrix Online to the existing line up of Station games.

In April 2006, Sony Online Entertainment, Inc. became Sony Online Entertainment LLC, owned by Sony Pictures Digital and Sony Computer Entertainment America.

In May 2006, it was announced that SOE would be co-publisher of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. However, Sigil retains full development rights, and SOE's role is only that of marketing, distribution, technical support and hosting the game servers. SOE also announced the release of Field Commander, its third game for the PlayStation Portable System.

In August 2006, SOE announced the acquisition of developer Worlds Apart Productions, renaming the studio SOE-Denver. The studio has since released an online version of the Wizkids Pirates Constructible Strategy Game.

In November 2006, SOE released its first PlayStation 3 title, Untold Legends Dark Kingdom, within the launch window of the PlayStation 3 system, which was released in North America on November 17, 2006. SOE also released Pirates Online Constructible Strategy Game, which is the online version of the Wizkids Pirates Constructible Strategy Game.

In January 2007, SOE announced that it has licensed rights from Midway Home Entertainment to develop and release six classic Midway games for PlayStation 3 Digital Download, including Mortal Kombat II, Gauntlet II, Joust, Rampage World Tour, Rampart, and Championship Sprint, which will be available from the PlayStation store. The announcement came shortly after SOE released its second PlayStation 3 digital download GripShift.

On January 30, 2007, Sony Online Entertainment and Sigil Games Online launched Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.

On May 15, 2007, Sony Online Entertainment announced that they had completed a transaction to purchase key assets from Sigil Games Online, including Vanguard: Saga of Heroes (described as Sigil's "tentpole property").

On April 9, 2007, Sony Online Entertainment announced a partnership with Virgin Comics to create a MMO based on the popular Indian-Mythology inspired Ramayan 3392 A.D. graphical novel.

On June 11, 2007, Sony Online Entertainment announced that The Agency was currently under development.

On March 13, 2008, Sony Online Entertainment announced that Sony Computer Entertainment will have direct control over SOE.

On January 16, 2009, the company joined Steam, selling EverQuest, EverQuest II and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. Also on this day, the company purchased a massively multiplayer online turn based strategy game called Pox Nora.

On August 1, 2009, SOE shut down The Matrix Online after 4 years of operation. Players were treated to about 2 months of gaming despite some initial setbacks that left many veteran players unable to access the game for about a week after the official announcement was made. A memory book was developed and has been made available for download on the game's official site.

Games

Game Title US Release Date Platform
The Agency 2010 PlayStation 3, PC
Magic: The Gathering - Tactics 2010 PC, PlayStation 3
DC Universe Online 2010 PC, PlayStation 3
Free Realms (April 2009 for PC; TBA 2009 for PS3) PC, PlayStation 3
Cash Guns Chaos (December 2007) PlayStation Network
Field Commander May 2006 PSP
Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom (November 2006) PlayStation 3
Untold Legends: The Warrior's Code (March 2006) PSP
Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade (March 2005) PSP
Champions: Return to Arms (February 2005) PlayStation 2
EverQuest II (November 2004) PC
Champions of Norrath (February 2004) PlayStation 2
EverQuest Online Adventures: Frontiers (November 2003) PlayStation 2
Star Wars Galaxies (June 2003) PC
PlanetSide (May 2003) PC
EverQuest Online Adventures (February 2003) PlayStation 2
Cosmic Rift (April 2001) PC
EverQuest (March 1999) PC

Titles

  • The Ruins of Kunark (March 2000)
  • The Scars of Velious (December 2000)
  • The Shadows of Luclin (December 2001)
  • The Planes of Power (October 2002)
  • The Legacy of Ykesha (February 2003)
  • Lost Dungeons of Norrath (September 2003)
  • Gates of Discord (February 2004)
  • Omens of War (September 2004)
  • Dragons of Norrath (February 2005)
  • Depths of Darkhollow (September 2005)
  • Prophecy of Ro (February 2006)
  • The Serpent's Spine (September 2006)
  • The Buried Sea (February 2007)
  • Secrets of Faydwer (November 2007)
  • Seeds of Destruction (October 2008)
  • The Bloodline Chronicles (March 2005)
  • The Splitpaw Saga (June 2005)
  • Desert of Flames (September 2005)
  • Kingdom of Sky (February 2006)
  • The Fallen Dynasty (June 2006)
  • Echoes of Faydwer (November 2006)
  • Rise of Kunark (November 2007)
  • The Shadow Odyssey (November 2008)


  • Infantry — PC (October 1999)
  • Lords of EverQuest — PC (December 2003 - Developed by Rapid Eye Entertainment)
  • Pirates of the Burning Sea — PC (January 2008)
  • Planetside (May 2003)
    • Core Combat (October 2003)
    • Aftershock (October 2004)
  • Pox Nora (January 2009)
  • Star Chamber: The Harbinger Saga (November 2003)
  • Star Wars Galaxies — PC (June 2003 - Published by LucasArts)
    • Jump to Lightspeed — PC (October 2004)
    • Rage of the Wookiees — PC (May 2005)
    • Trials of Obi-Wan — PC (November 2005)
  • Tanarus — PC (November 1997)
  • The Matrix Online — PC (Assumed operation as of August 2005)
  • Vanguard: Saga of Heroes — PC (January 2007 - Co-Published with Sigil Games)
  • Wheel Of Fortune 2 — PC (March 2007)

Station.com

SOE's Station.com is a portal to its PC, console, casual and mobile games. Players can access and download games such as EverQuest, EverQuest II, Star Wars Galaxies, The Matrix Online and PlanetSide. Station.com also provides sneak previews to new games for Sony PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and PSP, including Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom. November 2006. In August 2006, Station.com added several games by Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment.

External links

References

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