When I first saw this news, my reaction was that today is Groundhog Day and not April Fool’s Day. Even with Smed’s current love affair with Reddit, that seemed like a questionable source. But there was the announcement over on the official SOE forums as well.
Dear Players, Partners and Friends,
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!
As part of this transition, SOE will now become Daybreak Game Company. This name embodies who we are as an organization, and is a nod to the passion and dedication of our employees and players. It is also representative of our vision to approach each new day as an opportunity to move gaming forward.
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.
Our games and players are the heart and soul of our organization, and we are committed to maintaining our portfolio of online games and pushing the limits of where we can take online gaming together.
Thank you for your continued support. See you in game!
The Team at Daybreak
So there it is. Sony has sold off Sony Online Entertainment to Columbus Nova, an investment group with a vague web site (which is being pounded to hell right now) and, as far as I can tell, no history in video games. (The whole thing is tagged as copyright 2006 FFS.)
[Edit: Cyanbane pointed to another Columbus Nova site.]
Nobody can tell you what the future will hold yet. There is going to be a long period of just untangling SOE, now known as Daybreak, from their former corporate masters at Sony and Sony Computer Entertainment America before we will really be able to tell where things are heading.
Contrary to the happy tone of that announcement… which, honestly, is the tone they HAVE to take… my own experience with Silicon Valley acquisitions puts this in a dim light. My gut says that if this follows the common acquisition model, it will eventually mean layoffs and trimming back the product line (PlanetSide will be gone first), while other legacy products will be milked for cash (i.e. expansions and updates will trail off) until they are shuttered (EverQuest, EverQuest II). The company will chase some specific version of the “future” (consoles?), leaving the past behind. Expect Smed to get his golden parachute exit somewhere around the 18 month mark after finishing his transition work.
Okay, that is pretty dark. But lets just say that such acquisitions trend unhappy in my world. Investment firms tend to pillage rather than invest, no matter what their prospectus says. There is that SOE history to contend with as well. So many things they have done have SEEMED like good ideas at the time. (ProSiebenSat.1 anyone?) But SOE probably didn’t have a choice in the matter, so maybe it won’t be SOE being SOE.
Also, what does the name Daybreak signify? Is this a zombie thing? All I know is that there used to be a bar called The Daybreak near my old apartment. That is going to make for an odd mental image. Also, picture everything that says “Sony” now saying “Daybreak.”
Coming on top of the Massively shut down, it is making for a hell of a week.
What do you think will happen, knowing as little as we do?
I expect a range of opinions on this. I will link them below as I find them so I can look at them a year from now to see how we scored.