Tag Archives: Dimensional Ink

Daybreak buys Cold Iron Studios

A press release went out from Daybreak on Tuesday announcing that they had purchased Cold Iron Studios.

It follows you as you move about the room!

To preserve it, since Daybreak has shown a willingness to re-write history at times, here is the body of the press release:

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – August 11, 2020 – Daybreak Games, global publisher and developer of large-scale multiplayer online games, today announced it acquired Cold Iron Studios, the San Jose based studio of veteran MMO, action and shooter developers currently working on a PC and console game set in the iconic Alien universe.

Cold Iron Studios co-founder Craig Zinkievich will continue to lead the studio and the development of the Alien game, reporting to Ji Ham, CEO of Daybreak Games. The game promises to deliver an action-packed, sci-fi shooter experience unlike any other game on the market.

“We’re incredibly proud and excited to be part of the Daybreak family,” said Zinkievich. “Daybreak and Cold Iron share the same passion and long history for delivering action-packed multiplayer games for audiences worldwide. In combining our decades of experience developing and launching globally successful multiplayer titles, we’re destined to make great games together.”

“We are delighted to have Cold Iron Studios join the Daybreak Games family and accelerate our next generation of growth,” said Ham. “Strategic investments in highly talented and proven teams that have outstanding leaders and a track record of developing awesome online games is an important part of our growth and strategy for Daybreak.”

Cold Iron Studios was established in 2015 by the creators of City of Heroes, Star Trek Online and Neverwinter. Under the new ownership, Cold Iron Studios will operate independently with Daybreak acting as publisher providing marketing, tech and operational support.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

There is nothing particularly startling in the text.  The terms were not disclosed because neither were publicly held companies, so what goes on is viewed as none of your business.  I guess we can confirm that Ji Ham is still the CEO, though I am sure Jason Epstein still owns the whole thing.  Or Columbus Nova.  Or whoever.

Cold Iron will operate independently, with Daybreak acting as the publisher the way they do with Lord of the Rings Online, a tidbit that once again brings up the “do they or don’t they” around who owns Standing Stone Games.

As the background image on their web site strongly suggests, Cold Iron is working on a licensed game based on the Alien franchise.  There isn’t much in the way of details on the site, save for a brief description of the company.

Cold Iron Studios was founded in 2015 by three industry veterans who had a goal of creating games they want to play and building a team they love working with. Since then, the team has expanded to 30+ awesome developers and we’ve moved into a downtown office in the heart of Silicon Valley. We’re a diverse group of passionate gamers with decades of experience developing and launching award-winning MMO and action titles. Currently, the team is working on a new PC and console shooter based on the Alien franchise.

So it is a shooter for PC and consoles based on the Alien franchise.  Oddly, when you click on the careers or apply links, they resolve to another game studio, Scopely, and to the Marvel Strike Force page specifically in one case. Scopely acquired the 20th Century Fox gaming studio Foxnet Games, which published Marvel Strike Force, earlier this year.  Cold Iron had apparently been a part of that deal, having been acquired by Fox previously.  Scopely has now turned around and sold them to Daybreak.  Four owners in five years is very Silicon Valley.

More interesting perhaps is the connection to another company, Cryptic Studios.

Cryptic, which made City of Heroes for NCsoft and Champions Online, Star Trek Online, and Neverwinter, has been part of Perfect World Entertainment since 2011.  It still has an office in Silicon Valley, over in Los Gatos just around the corner from Netflix. (The Cryptic sign was still up when I drove past a couple months back anyway.)

Cold Iron was founded in San Jose in 2015 by a group of former Cryptic employees.  That is close enough to Cryptic as makes no difference.

Meanwhile, over at Daybreak, Cryptic co-founder Jack Emmert now runs the Austin based studio for the company that runs DC Universe Online and operates under the name Dimensional Ink Games since the studio split announcement earlier this year, though he reports into Daybreak in San Diego, so their independence as a studio remains to be proven.

But the connection, a Cryptic founder being in place at a company that purchase a studio built on former Cryptic devs does incline one to try and draw a connection.  Yes, it is a small industry with a lot of cross-pollination, but Daybreak and/or Jason Epstein haven’t exactly been visibly keen to open the wallet and invest in anything.  Layoffs and shut downs and cancelled plans have been more the legacy of the last 5+ years.

But now they’re spending?

And Dimensional Ink Games, of the three Daybreak sub-studios, is the only one who has even hinted that they have a new title in progress.  Is Cold Iron going to be used to back that plan up?

Yes, I know the press release says they will be operating independently.  I also know that when somebody owns you, you’re exactly as independent as they say you are at any given moment.  I worked for an independent start up at one point and spent a few months working on things for another independent start up because the VC who bankrolled both companies liked their idea better than ours for a brief stretch of time.

Anyway, Daybreak spent some money, we know very little, and there is plenty of room for speculation and wild conspiracy theories.  Go crazy.

Other Coverage:

The Daybreak Studio Split Comes to Pass

It isn’t even Friday afternoon and we’re getting news from Daybreak.  The splitting of the company into discreet studios focused on specific games is under way, something that has been somewhat expected since July of last year.  Of prime importance to me are the fates of EverQuest and EverQuest II, which will now be run by Darkpaw Games.

Darkpaw Gamed for Norrath

A producer’s letter from Holly Longdale announced the change, though details were scant.  Quoted from the site for posterity:

Welcome to our first bark as Darkpaw Games!

Unsurprisingly, our motto is “Never Give Up” given that our studio name is borne from our beloved in-game character, Fippy Darkpaw – the gnoll that won’t quit. For over 20 years he’s been fighting the good fight for his tribe. Same goes for our studio, our games, and our tenacious players.

We are the OG. The passionate. The dedicated. And the proud! Grrr….Bark Bark…Grrr.

I’m sure you want to know what this change means…

Darkpaw Games will operate autonomously and focus on the EQ franchise, its community, and its future. I will be at the head of Darkpaw and Daybreak will be our publisher with its incredible support and operations teams we’ve come to know and love over the years.

We will work toward expanding the franchise and invest in our future as a studio.

Currently, nothing will change for your accounts and membership. No worries there.

Our staff has grown a bit and we’ll continue to adjust as Darkpaw evolves and grows into its development strategy and vision. What’s that, you ask? To create immersive entertainment that is socially driven and diverse, enriches lives and fuels imagination.

That vision comes from decades of working with and listening to our communities about how EverQuest games have impacted, changed, and enhanced their lives. We want to continue it. It’s what we do best.

Immediately, and in practical terms, our focus is on the fans and investing in our current games and the business of starting new ones. We’re already executing on the plans we had for 2020, like expansions and events for EQ and EQ2.

We’ll start evaluating the interest in, and logistics of, a fan faire and move forward with that as soon as possible.

More than anything, we want to deliver on what players love and go even further. We are going to think outside the box a bit, so hold onto your tails!

This month, we plan to sell a limited run of our EverQuest 20th and EverQuest II 15th anniversary shirts on Amazon. If it goes well, we’ll keep exploring official product ideas. We’ll send out links and details as soon as we have them!

EverQuest’s first anniversary in its THIRD decade will come in March and we’ve got plans for that, so stay tuned! EverQuest II has its own plans that will roll out soon – Yeehaw!

Now, with all my heart, thank YOU! We hope you continue to embrace us as we grow into our indie paws. We want to communicate in new ways with our own Darkpaw voice, too. Many of you are familiar with our personalities and we want to live our best life as gamers and developers with you.

Join the pack! More news as it comes!

Sincerely, as ever,

Holly “Windstalker” Longdale
Executive Producer, Darkpaw Games
“Never Give Up”

What this means for the business itself is unclear.

The PlanetSide 2 team had a similar announcement, declaring that they are now developing as Rogue Planet Games.

Rogue Planet for PlanetSide

Then there is DC Universe Online and the Austin studio that goes with it got a post from Jack Emmert that they will now be Dimensional Ink.  No cool splash screen yet from them, and they ended up not going with the previously registered Golden Age Studios.  Jack Emmert is probably most famous for his association with Cryptic and City of Heroes and his letter stands out among the three when declaring some level of independence.

Those three teams cover most of the company.

Omitted from mention at this point is the H1Z1 and Z1 Battle Royale games, whose web site has no similar note from a producer.  I suspect that they will roll along with Rogue Planet, but we shall see.

All three of the posts make sure to declare that nothing is changing right now and that everybody should remain calm.  That is the standard starting point for everything.

There is a fourth post from Daybreak as well, which sums up the other three:

Daybreak Introduces Three New Franchise Studios –
Dimensional Ink Games, Darkpaw Games, and Rogue Planet Games

Newly Branded Development Teams Reflect “Franchise First” Model to Strengthen Autonomy of Studios with Signature Games and Genres from MMORPG to FPS and Superhero Titles

SAN DIEGO, CA – Jan. 21, 2020 – Daybreak Games today announced its “Franchise First” initiative in the form of a business structure that establishes three new individual creative franchise studios — Dimensional Ink Games, Darkpaw Games and Rogue Planet Games. Building on the success of the teams that introduced genre-defining games and franchises including DC Universe™ Online, EverQuest® and PlanetSide®, this business model is the result of a long-term strategy designed to amplify the existing franchises while enabling each studio to further foster its unique identity, community and culture.

By allowing the identities of each of these studios to thrive under their individual studios, each team will have the flexibility to continue their work developing current and upcoming games, recruiting new talent and building upon the legacy of their respective franchises.

Dimensional Ink Games in Austin develops and operates DC Universe Online, the one-of-a kind DC Super Hero-based MMORPG enjoyed by millions across PC and consoles. Dimensional Ink will be led by Jack Emmert, the mastermind behind City of Heroes, Star Trek Online, and Neverwinter. The studio will continue to support DCUO while developing its next high-profile action MMO project starting in 2020.

“Crafting iconic MMORPG experiences has always been Daybreak’s lifeblood,” said Emmert. “We intend to continue that legacy and grow Dimensional Ink, Darkpaw Games and Rogue Planet Games into the future. Whether it’s DC Universe Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide 2 or our future projects, we’ll be giving players their ideal fantasy game experiences for years to come.”

Darkpaw Games will be focusing on EverQuest, one of the most legendary MMORPG IPs recognized worldwide. Holly Longdale will continue to lead the studio as its Executive Producer. Darkpaw’s mission is to continue to expand upon the unique and amazing fantasy adventure that is EverQuest and EverQuest II and develop the next innovation for the franchise.

Rogue Planet Games, the studio branch in San Diego that broke new ground in the massively multiplayer first-person shooter genre with PlanetSide and Planetside 2, will be working to craft even more new and unique experiences in the space under Executive Producer Andy Sites at the helm. The team is looking to develop its next genre-defining experience for fans of shooters under its new banner.

As for what this really means, that is yet to come.  All three letters say that Daybreak will continue to publish and support the studios.  Does that put them on an equal footing of independence as Standing Stone Games and their work with Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online?  We would probably have to know something about the actual relationship between Daybreak and SSG to answer that.

Daybreak, however, will continue to be a thing.  How that evolves and what that really means is still foggy.  Are they set to become something more akin to Gamigo or Perfect World Entertainment, a holding company for milking old MMOs?  Is there a plan to perhaps sell off one or more of these new studios?  Or is it all window dressing?

The Darkpaw producer’s letter sounds very promising all the same.  Ongoing expansions and otherwise doing what they have been doing is about all you can ask for at this point… aside from a new EverQuest game, but that seems unlikely.  After some early stumbles, the EverQuest franchise has done better under Daybreak than it had been doing during the last few years at SOE.  I hope that success for Norrath will continue.

Of course, we have been waiting for this to come to pass.  It was on my list of news I was expecting in the last quarter of 2019, but had to roll it over into my 2020 predictions.  Now to see what it really means.

Other coverage: