John Smedley (developer)
|Born||August 27, 1968|
|Residence||San Diego, California|
|Occupation||President, Sony Online Entertainment|
Smedley was born August 27, 1968. He became heavily involved in table-top RPGS such as Dungeons & Dragons, which would later give him the ideas for Everquest. He attended Mt. Carmel High School in San Diego, California, before graduating and attending San Diego State University.
In the early 1990s Smedley started a development company called Knight Technologies that produced contract games While working for Simutronics as an in game Op for the game Cyberstrike.
Smedley was involved with the creation and development of the original EverQuest, and was co-founder of Verant Interactive, Inc., which became Sony Online Entertainment, Inc. (SOE) after it was purchased by Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2000.
In 2007, he announced a change in direction for Sony Online Entertainment, including a broadening of business models beyond the subscription model and pursuing female consumers to balance their audience, which was 85% male at the time.
John Smedley has been considered by many to have been responsible for the failure of the previously popular MMORPG Star Wars Galaxies. In the game's third expansion, Star Wars Galaxies: Trials of Obi-Wan, the entire character development process was changed ("Combat Upgrade"). This led to a number of players demanding their money back for this expansion.
Media outlets criticized the changes of the "Combat Upgrade" while subscription cancellations rose. After the New Game Enhancements were implemented in November 2005, sparking huge demonstrations in-game from the majority of players, various media outlets criticized the reduced depth and complexity of the game, but John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, defended the decision claiming it necessary to revamp the game in order to reverse the deterioration they were seeing in the subscriber base. SOE offered refunds on the Trials of Obi-Wan expansion due to it being released two days before the New Game Enhancement was announced. The development team affirmed this was their desired direction for the game and that they would modify parameters to address player's concerns. Features such as expertise trees were later added to the game to add complexity and differentiation to characters.
Nevertheless, after the announcement that SOE had acquired the game Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, Smedley addressed that game's players about the perceived threat of major changes to the game: "We've learned a thing or two with our experiences with the NGE and don't plan on repeating mistakes from the past and not listening to the players."