Daybreak Game Company
|Industry||Video game industry|
|Founded||December 17, 1997|
|Headquarters||San Diego, California, U.S.|
|Jason Epstein (Exec. Chairman)
Ji Ham (CEO)
|Products||Massively multiplayer online games|
Daybreak Game Company LLC is an American video game developer based in San Diego. The company was founded in December 1997 as Sony Online Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Computer Entertainment, but was spun-off to an independent investor in February 2015 and renamed Daybreak Game Company.
They are known for creating the games EverQuest, EverQuest II, The Matrix Online, PlanetSide, Star Wars Galaxies, Clone Wars Adventures, Free Realms, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, DC Universe Online, PlanetSide 2, H1Z1: Just Survive, and H1Z1: King of the Kill, along with more recent acquisitions Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online.
Sony Online Entertainment 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 role-playing game 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 games. The company's video game and online development branch spun off, initially named RedEye Interactive, and soon after renamed Verant Interactive.
Verant Interactive launched EverQuest on March 16, 1999, through Sony with modest expectations. The game 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. In October 2001, McQuaid resigned and 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 Wookiees 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 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. 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, with the level of concurrent players reduced to around 10,000; relatively few for the MMO industry.
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.
Sony Online Entertainment LLC
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 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, an online 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 announcement was made. A memory book was developed and was made available for download on the game's 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..." 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. 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. 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 December 6, 2011, EverQuest II switched to a free-to-play model, with optional subscriptions. On December 15, 2011, Star Wars Galaxies was closed. SOE maintained a Memory Book for former players.
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. SOE developers posted messages of concern and apology, but also assurances the SOE servers and systems were not compromised.
On May 2, 2011, SOE 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)." Later, SOE disclosed that "personal information from approximately 24.6 million SOE accounts may have been stolen", including names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, gender, date of birth, login ID, and hashed passwords.
Daybreak Game Company
On February 2, 2015, Sony announced that SOE had been sold to investment company Columbus Nova for an undisclosed amount, and that it would be renamed Daybreak Game Company. Cutting its ties with Sony, Daybreak subsequently became able to develop their games for platforms other than PlayStation, including Xbox and mobile platforms. On February 11, employees of the company reported they were undergoing layoffs, including several senior developers and project managers. Shortly after, Daybreak responded by announcing the layoffs were intended to make the company profitable, but did not detail the extent of the layoffs or whether it would affect development and support of their new and existing games. On July 22, 2015, Daybreak announced that John Smedley had stepped down as the company's President, and that Russell Shanks, the company's former COO, will take up his position. On August 21, 2015, Smedley left Daybreak to found a new company. In October 2016, Russell Shanks left Daybreak. Ji Ham is the current acting president.
On December 19, 2016, it was announced that Daybreak games would become the new publisher of The Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online, taking over the role from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Although the two games would maintain their old account system and server centers, not integrating with the rest of Daybreak. The result of this deal would cause the closure of Asheron's Call and Asheron's Call 2: Fallen Kings on January 31, 2017.
In April 2018, Russian businessman and Columbus Nova owner Viktor Vekselberg, and his portfolio company Renova Group, were sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department as part of an investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. Daybreak began to deny that it had been sold to Columbus Nova at all (through public statements, deletion of press releases that had mentioned Columbus Nova, as well as edits to its Wikipedia page that were reverted for not being properly cited), stating that the company had actually been acquired by Jason Epstein (through Inception Acquisitions, LLC), who was a partner to Columbus Nova at the time, and is also an investor in Harmonix. A Daybreak spokesperson claimed that Epstein's exact ties to Columbus Nova had caused confusion in media reporting of the sale, even though its deleted press release made the same claim.
Sony Online Entertainment's Station.com was a portal to its PC, console, casual and mobile games. Players could access and download games such as EverQuest, EverQuest II and PlanetSide. Station.com also provided sneak previews to new games for Sony PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable, including Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom. November 2006. In August 2006, Station.com added several games by Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment.
|Game title||U.S. release date||Platform||Status||Notes|
|EverQuest Next||Cancelled||Windows, PlayStation 4||Cancelled||Cancelled on March 11, 2016|
|H1Z1||February 28, 2018||Windows||Active||Formerly known as H1Z1: King of the Kill.|
|Just Survive||2016||Windows||Under development||Was formerly a part of the game known simply as H1Z1, until it was split into two separate projects in February 2016. Was renamed as Just Survive in October 2017.|
|Landmark||June 10, 2016||Windows||Closed 2017-02-21||Was in parallel development with EverQuest Next|
|PlanetSide 2||November 20, 2012||Windows, PlayStation 4||Active|
|Dragon's Prophet||September 23, 2013||Windows||Closed 2015-11-16|
|Legends of Norrath||May 9, 2007||Windows||Closed 2016-08-17|
|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 3||Closed 2014-03-28|
|DC Universe Online||January 11, 2011||Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One||Active|
|Fortune League||January 7, 2011||Closed 2011-07-11||Developed with Fastpoint Games|
|Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures||September 15, 2010||Windows||Closed 2014-03-31|
|Peggle and Peggle Nights||November 19, 2009||PlayStation 3||N/A||Handled the port with PopCap Games|
|Free Realms||April 28, 2009||Windows, PlayStation 3||Closed 2014-03-31||Released March 29, 2011 for PS3|
|Bejeweled 2||January 29, 2009||PlayStation 3||N/A||Handled the port with PopCap Games|
|Plants vs. Zombies PSN||February 8, 2011||Playstation 3, Playstation Vita||Closed 2011||Handled the port with PopCap Games|
|Pirates of the Burning Sea||January 22, 2008||Windows||Active||Now run by Portalus|
|God of War: Betrayal||June 20, 2007||Java Platform, Micro Edition||N/A||Co-developed with Javaground and published by Sony Pictures Digital|
|Vanguard: Saga of Heroes||January 30, 2007||Windows||Closed 2014-07-31||Co-Published with Sigil Games|
|Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom||November 19, 2006||PlayStation 3||N/A|
|Cash Guns Chaos||November 17, 2006||PlayStation 3||N/A|
|PoxNora||August 1, 2006||Windows||Closed 2014-03-06||Now run by Desert Owl Games|
|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 2009-08||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 2||N/A||Made with PopCap Games Frameworks|
|Star Chamber: The Harbinger Saga||November 2003||Windows||Closed 2012-03|
|EverQuest Online Adventures: Frontiers||November 17, 2003||PlayStation 2||Closed 2012-03|
|Star Wars Galaxies||June 26, 2003||Windows||Closed 2011-12||Published by LucasArts. Closed after licensing with LucasArts ceased.|
|PlanetSide||May 20, 2003||Windows||Closed 2016-07-01|
|EverQuest Online Adventures||February 11, 2003||PlayStation 2||Closed 2012-03|
|Cosmic Rift||April 17, 2001||Windows||Closed 2012-03|
|Infantry||October 1999||Windows||Closed 2012-03|
|EverQuest||March 16, 1999||Windows||Active|
|Tanarus||November 30, 1997||Windows||Closed 2010-06|
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