Sony Online Entertainment
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|Type||Division of Sony Computer Entertainment|
Computer and video games
|Headquarters||San Diego, California, USA|
|Parent||Sony Computer Entertainment|
Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) is a game development and 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, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, DC Universe Online, PlanetSide 2 and other smaller games in development.
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.
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Sony Online Entertainment'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 was put in charge of SISA's development of an online role-playing video game that would evolve into the MMORPG EverQuest. Smedley hired programmers Brad McQuaid and Steve Clover who had come to Smedley's attention through their work on the single-player 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 March 2000, Verant released EverQuest: The Ruins of Kunark, the first in a long list of expansions for EverQuest.
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. 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 Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, an MMORPG that was released in 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. EverQuest Online Adventures was not as successful but spawned an expansion EverQuest Online Adventures Frontiers, which is still maintained by SOE as of 2007.
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. Similar to its strategy with EverQuest, SOE has released several adventure packs and expansion packs for EverQuest II, starting with The Bloodline Chronicles in March 2005.
In November 2005, SOE added the New Game Enhancements to Star Wars Galaxies, changing many of the game's core mechanics. This upset players and critics alike, with the level of concurrent players reduced to around 10,000; relatively few for the MMO industry.
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- 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 was then made available from the PlayStation Store. The announcement came shortly after SOE released its second PlayStation 3 digital download GripShift.
- 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 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 was made available for download on the game's official site.
- As of May 2010[update], 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.
- On July 15, 2010, SOE eliminated 35 full-time positions and an undisclosed number of temporary positions to "...better align the company's resources..."
- August 8, 2010, SOE announced that EverQuest Next was in the early stages of Development.
- On January 7, 2011, the company and Fastpoint Games announced the alpha launch of the Facebook game Fortune League. Fortune League integrates real-time performance data such as damages, deaths and healings directly from the MMO environment and uses them to form Hero Stats that drive the game. Therefore, player actions inside EverQuest II affected what happened in Fortune League and prizes from Fortune League helped users advance back in the EverQuest II environment. Fastpoint Games CEO, Kelly Perdew, positioned Fortune League as a new category of snackable data-driven games that would help MMO franchises acquire users and tap new revenue streams.
- On February 1, 2011, SOE unveiled its new PlayStation Network games to be released throughout the year 2011. These included Acceleration of Suguri X Edition, Akimi Village, Plants vs. Zombies, Rochard, Sideway and Slam Bolt Scrappers.
- On March 31, 2011, SOE confirmed that "it will eliminate 205 positions and close its Denver, Seattle and Tucson studios." Production of The Agency was also discontinued.
- On April 27, 2011, Sony, the parent company of SOE, released statements regarding an intrusion, on or about April 18, into the PlayStation Network, and the potential theft of up to 77 million subscribers' personal data. Sony maintains that PSN and SOE are hosted and run on completely separate subsystems and that the PlayStation Network intrusion had no major effect on SOE's online services.
- On December 6, 2011, EverQuest II switched to a free-to-play with optional subscriptions models.
- On December 15, 2011, Star Wars Galaxies closed down. SOE had maintained a Memory Book for former players.
Customer Data Breach
||It has been suggested that this article be merged into PlayStation Network outage. (Discuss) Proposed since May 2011.|
On May 2, 2011, SOE completely interrupted their online services. Over the previous month several intrusions of PSN have caused the developers to post messages of concern and apology, but also assurances the SOE servers and systems were not compromised. This most recent development has shut the service down entirely with the message: "We have had to take the SOE service down temporarily. In the course of our investigation into the intrusion into our systems we have discovered an issue that warrants enough concern for us to take the service down effective immediately. We will provide an update later today (Monday)."
It was disclosed that "the latest attack accessed personal information for a staggering 24.6 million accounts. Such info includes names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, gender, date of birth, login ID, and hashed passwords"
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|Game Title||US Release Date||Platform||Notes|
|Unannounced Project||Under development||TBA|
|Dragon's Prophet||Under development||PC||http://www.dragonsprophetthegame.com|
|EverQuest Next||Under development||PC||EverQuest Next is an Interim title|
|PlanetSide 2||November 20, 2012||PC|
|Bullet Run||July 31, 2012||PC||Closed February 2013|
|Payday: The Heist||October 4, 2011||PC, PlayStation 3||Developed with Overkill Software|
|Magic: The Gathering – Tactics||January 18, 2011||PC, PlayStation Home|
|DC Universe Online||January 11, 2011||PC, PlayStation 3|
|Fortune League||January 7, 2011||Developed with Fastpoint Games|
|Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures||September 15, 2010||PC|
|Peggle and Peggle Nights||November 19, 2009||PlayStation Network||Handled the port with PopCap Games|
|Free Realms||April 28, 2009 for PC||PC, PlayStation 3||Released March 29, 2011 for PS3|
|Bejeweled 2||January 29, 2009||PlayStation Network||Handled the port with PopCap Games|
|Pirates of the Burning Sea||January 22, 2008||PC||Left SOE in February 2013, now run independently|
|Vanguard: Saga of Heroes||January 30, 2007||PC||Co-Published with Sigil Games|
|Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom||November 19, 2006||PlayStation 3|
|Cash Guns Chaos||November 17, 2006||PlayStation Network|
|PoxNora||August 1, 2006||PC|
|Field Commander||May 23, 2006||PSP|
|Untold Legends: The Warrior's Code||March 28, 2006||PSP|
|The Matrix Online||August 9, 2005||PC||Originally released on March 22, 2005. Acquired by SOE on August 9, 2005. Closed August 2009.|
|Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade||March 22, 2005||PSP|
|Champions: Return to Arms||February 7, 2005||PlayStation 2|
|EverQuest II||November 8, 2004||PC|
|Champions of Norrath||February 10, 2004||PlayStation 2|
|Lords of EverQuest||December 12, 2003||PC||Developed by Rapid Eye Entertainment|
|Zuma||December 12, 2003||PlayStation Network||Made with PopCap Games Frameworks.|
|Star Chamber: The Harbinger Saga||November 2003||PC||Closed March 2012|
|EverQuest Online Adventures: Frontiers||November 17, 2003||PlayStation 2||Closed March 2012|
|Star Wars Galaxies||June 26, 2003||PC||Published by LucasArts. Closed December 2011 after licensing with LucasArts ceased.|
|PlanetSide||May 20, 2003||PC|
|EverQuest Online Adventures||February 11, 2003||PlayStation 2||Closed March 2012|
|Cosmic Rift||April 17, 2001||PC||Closed March 2012|
|Infantry||October 1999||PC||Closed March 2012|
|EverQuest||April 16, 1999||PC|
|Tanarus||November 30, 1997||PC||Closed June 2010|
|This section requires expansion. (April 2010)|
- EverQuest expansions:
- 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)
- Underfoot (December 2009)
- House of Thule (October 2010)
- Veil of Alaris (November 2011)
- EverQuest II expansions:
- 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)
- Sentinel's Fate (February 2010)
- Destiny of Velious (February 2011)
- Age of Discovery (December 2011)
- EverQuest Online Adventures expansions:
- PlanetSide expansions:
- Star Wars Galaxies expansions:
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.
||This article uses bare URLs for citations. (July 2012)|
- Parker, Sam (2000-06-01). "Sony Acquires Verant". Retrieved 2007-05-12.
- William Vitka (February 21, 2006). "In 'Galaxies' Far, Far Away...". CBSNews.
- Chase, Matthew (2005-12-16). "Star Wars Galaxies: AED Review for PC from". 1UP.com. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
- var authorId = "192818379" by Jim Reilly. "Layoffs Hit Sony Online Entertainment - PC News at IGN". Pc.ign.com. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
- Socal Tech Article retrieved 7th January 2011
- Sacramento Bee Article retrieved 7th January 2011
- "Sony Unveils New Playstation Network Games - License". Licensemag.com. 2011-02-01. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
- Pham, Alex (April 27, 2011). "Sony's PlayStation Network and Qriocity hacked". Los Angeles Times.
- "Sony Apologizes For PlayStation Network Security Breach". Huffington Post. 2011-05-01.
- "F2P/AoD/GU 62 Producer's Launch Letter! (12/06/2011)". Forums.station.sony.com. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
- Wikipedia Star Wars Galaxies entry
- SWG Memory Book
- "SOE - Service Under Maintenance". Maintenance.station.sony.com. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
- "Second Sony Videogame-Service Is Hacked". 2011-05-02.
- "Sony woes continue as SOE confirms data breach (update: 24.6 million accounts affected)". 2011-05-02.
- "Free Realms Coming Soon to PSN". IGN. 2011-03-11. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
- Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom
- Sony Online Entertainment's Station.com
- Sony Online Entertainment's press center
- Station.com Forums
- Sony Online Entertainment's podcast feed