Sony Online Entertainment

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Sony Online Entertainment LLC
Type Division of Sony Computer Entertainment
Industry Interactive entertainment
Computer and video games
Founded 1995
Headquarters San Diego, California, USA
Products Video games
Owner(s) Sony Corporation
Parent Sony Computer Entertainment
Website www.soe.com
Sony Online Entertainment headquarters in San Diego

Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), a division of Sony Corporation, is a video game developer and video game publisher. SOE is known for creating massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), including EverQuest, EverQuest II, The Matrix Online, PlanetSide, Star Wars Galaxies, Free Realms, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, DC Universe Online, and PlanetSide 2. In 2008, Sony Online Entertainment’s game EverQuest was honored at the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for advancing the art form of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs).

History[edit]

Sony Online Entertainment's began with Sony Interactive Studios America (SISA), an internal game development studio of Sony, formed by 1995. In 1996, John Smedley was put in charge of SISA's development of an online role-playing video game. The game 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 only PlayStation console games. The company's computer game and online development branch spun off, initially named RedEye Interactive, and then soon after renamed Verant Interactive.

Verant Interactive launched EverQuest on March 16, 1999, through Sony with modest expectations. The game quickly became successful. Sales 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 expansion packs for EverQuest.

In April 2000, Verant hired former Ultima Online developers Raph Koster and Rich Vogel. They formed an 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.[1] In October 2001, McQuaid resigned and then founded Sigil Games Online, drawing many of the original developers of EverQuest from SOE.

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

In 2003, the company also explored relatively untouched MMOG territory with the Massively Multiplayer Online First Person Shooter PlanetSide and the PlayStation 2 MMORPG EverQuest Online Adventures. PlanetSide enjoyed a reasonably successful launch, however it never attracted wide popularity. SOE has released two expansions for PlanetSide, a retail product titled Core Combat, and Aftershock, a free expansion. EverQuest Online Adventures was not as successful, but it spawned an expansion, EverQuest Online Adventures Frontiers. The game was shut down on March 29, 2012, after nine years of operation.

EverQuest II was released on November 9, 2004. The sequel was set hundreds of years after the original. Its success was similar to the original's.[citation needed] Similar in strategy to EverQuest, SOE has released several adventure packs and expansion packs for EverQuest II, starting with The Bloodline Chronicles in March 2005.

In January 2005, Sony Online Entertainment announced the creation of Station Publishing, a new label for distributing titles made by external developers. 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.[2][3]

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 Champions: Return to Arms, the sequel to Champions of Norrath, 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 SOE games.

Recent history[edit]

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 retained full development rights, and SOE's role was 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. SOE also released Pirates Online Constructible Strategy Game, 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. The games were 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 via Steam. On the same day, the company purchased Pox Nora, a MMO turn based strategy game. 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, 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..."[4] On August 8, 2010, SOE announced that EverQuest Next was in the early stages of Development.

On January 7, 2011, SOE 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 massively multiplayer online game 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 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.[5][6] On February 1, 2011, SOE unveiled new PlayStation Network games to be released throughout the year. These included Acceleration of Suguri X Edition, Akimi Village, Plants vs. Zombies, Rochard, Sideway and Slam Bolt Scrappers.[7] 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.[8]

On December 6, 2011, EverQuest II switched to a free-to-play model, with optional subscriptions.[9] On December 15, 2011, Star Wars Galaxies was closed.[10] SOE maintained a Memory Book[11] for former players.

Customer Data Breach[edit]

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.[12][13] SOE developers posted messages of concern and apology, but also assurances the SOE servers and systems were not compromised.

On May 2, 2011, SOE completely interrupted their online services. Players were told "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)."[14] Later, SOE 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".[15][16]

Station.com[edit]

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 PlayStation Portable, including Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom[17] November 2006. In August 2006, Station.com added several games by Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment.

Games[edit]

Game Title US Release Date Platform Status Notes
H1Z1 TBA Windows, PlayStation 4[18] Under Development Will be Free-to-play
EverQuest Next Under development Windows, PlayStation 4[19] Under development
PlanetSide 2 November 20, 2012 Windows Active Coming to the PlayStation 4 in 2014
Bullet Run July 31, 2012 Windows Closed February 2013
Payday: The Heist October 4, 2011 Windows, PlayStation 3 Active Developed with Overkill Software
Magic: The Gathering – Tactics January 18, 2011 Windows, PlayStation Home Closed March 28, 2014
DC Universe Online January 11, 2011 Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 Active
Fortune League January 7, 2011 Facebook Active Developed with Fastpoint Games
Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures September 15, 2010 Windows Closed March 31, 2014
Peggle and Peggle Nights November 19, 2009 PlayStation Network N/A Handled the port with PopCap Games
Free Realms April 28, 2009 for Windows Windows, PlayStation 3 Closed March 31, 2014 Released March 29, 2011[20] for PS3
Bejeweled 2 January 29, 2009 PlayStation Network N/A Handled the port with PopCap Games
Pirates of the Burning Sea January 22, 2008 Windows Active Left SOE in February 2013, now run independently
Vanguard: Saga of Heroes January 30, 2007 Windows Active. Closing July 31, 2014 Co-Published with Sigil Games
Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom November 19, 2006 PlayStation 3 N/A
Cash Guns Chaos November 17, 2006 PlayStation Network N/A
PoxNora August 1, 2006 Windows Active
Field Commander May 23, 2006 PSP N/A
Untold Legends: The Warrior's Code March 28, 2006 PSP N/A
The Matrix Online August 9, 2005 Windows Closed August 2009 Originally released on March 22, 2005. Acquired by SOE on August 9, 2005. .
Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade March 22, 2005 PSP N/A
Champions: Return to Arms February 7, 2005 PlayStation 2 N/A
EverQuest II November 8, 2004 Windows Active
Champions of Norrath February 10, 2004 PlayStation 2 N/A
Lords of EverQuest December 12, 2003 Windows N/A Developed by Rapid Eye Entertainment
Zuma December 12, 2003 PlayStation Network N/A Made with PopCap Games Frameworks
Star Chamber: The Harbinger Saga November 2003 Windows Closed March 2012
EverQuest Online Adventures: Frontiers November 17, 2003 PlayStation 2 Closed March 2012
Star Wars Galaxies June 26, 2003 Windows Closed December 2011 Published by LucasArts. Closed after licensing with LucasArts ceased.
PlanetSide May 20, 2003 Windows Active
EverQuest Online Adventures February 11, 2003 PlayStation 2 Closed March 2012
Cosmic Rift April 17, 2001 Windows Closed March 2012
Infantry October 1999 Windows Closed March 2012
EverQuest April 16, 1999 Windows Active
Tanarus November 30, 1997 Windows Closed June 2010
Dragon's Prophet September 23, 2013 Windows Active

Expansions[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Parker, Sam (2000-06-01). "Sony Acquires Verant". Retrieved 2007-05-12. 
  2. ^ William Vitka (February 21, 2006). "In 'Galaxies' Far, Far Away...". CBSNews. 
  3. ^ Chase, Matthew (2005-12-16). "Star Wars Galaxies: AED Review for PC from". 1UP.com. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  4. ^ var authorId = "192818379" by Jim Reilly. "Layoffs Hit Sony Online Entertainment - PC News at IGN". Pc.ign.com. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  5. ^ Socal Tech Article retrieved 7th January 2011
  6. ^ Sacramento Bee Article retrieved 7th January 2011
  7. ^ "Sony Unveils New Playstation Network Games - License". Licensemag.com. 2011-02-01. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  8. ^ Fahey, Mike. "Sony's MMO Studio Confirms Massive Layoffs, Closes The Book On The Agency". Kotaku. 
  9. ^ "F2P/AoD/GU 62 Producer's Launch Letter! (12/06/2011)". Forums.station.sony.com. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  10. ^ Wikipedia Star Wars Galaxies entry
  11. ^ SWG Memory Book
  12. ^ Pham, Alex (April 27, 2011). "Sony's PlayStation Network and Qriocity hacked". Los Angeles Times. 
  13. ^ "Sony Apologizes For PlayStation Network Security Breach". Huffington Post. 2011-05-01. 
  14. ^ "SOE - Service Under Maintenance". Maintenance.station.sony.com. Retrieved 2012-07-22. 
  15. ^ "Second Sony Videogame-Service Is Hacked". 2011-05-02. 
  16. ^ "Sony woes continue as SOE confirms data breach (update: 24.6 million accounts affected)". 2011-05-02. 
  17. ^ "Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom". Darkkingdom.station.sony.com. Retrieved 2013-12-30. 
  18. ^ http://www.polygon.com/2014/4/9/5599530/sony-online-entertainment-spills-details-on-post-apocalyptic-mmo-h1z1
  19. ^ "SOE Confirms PS4 Everquest Next & Talks Star Wars Galaxies". Gameinformer.com. Retrieved 2014-2-8. 
  20. ^ "Free Realms Coming Soon to PSN". IGN. 2011-03-11. Retrieved 2011-03-11. 

External links[edit]