Daybreak Game Company

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.

Daybreak Game Company LLC
Formerly
  • Sony Online Entertainment Inc.
  • (1997–2006)
  • Sony Online Entertainment LLC
  • (2006–2015)
Private
IndustryVideo games
FoundedDecember 17, 1997 (1997-12-17)
Headquarters,
U.S.
Key people
ProductsMassively multiplayer online games
Parent
Websitedaybreakgames.com

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.[1]

History

Sony Online Entertainment Inc.

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; John Smedley, Brad McQuaid and Russell Shanks, as well as 55 other ex-989 employees, founded RedEye Interactive, later renamed Verant Interactive.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4][5]

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, 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..."[6] 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.[7][8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

On December 6, 2011, EverQuest II switched to a free-to-play model, with optional subscriptions.[11] On December 15, 2011, Star Wars Galaxies was closed.[12] SOE maintained a Memory Book[13] for former players.

Data breach

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.[14][15] 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)."[16] 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.[17][18]

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.[19] 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 the development and support of their new and existing games.[20] 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.[21] On August 21, 2015, Smedley left Daybreak to found a new company.[22] In October 2016, Russell Shanks left Daybreak.[23]

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. However, the two games would maintain their old account system and server centers, not integrating with the rest of Daybreak.[24] The result of this deal would cause the closure of Asheron's Call and Asheron's Call 2: Fallen Kings on January 31, 2017.[25]

In April 2018, Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian businessman and owner of portfolio company Renova Group, was sanctioned by the United States Department of the Treasury as part of an investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.[26] Columbus Nova had previously identified itself as an affiliate of Renova Group, while Renova Group had listed Columbus Nova as part of its corporate structure.[27] Subsequently, it was believed that Columbus Nova, and consequently Daybreak, had also been affected by these sanctions. Daybreak subsequently began to deny that it had been sold to Columbus Nova, stating that the company had actually been acquired by Jason Epstein through his company Inception Acquisitions, LLC instead. At the time of the acquisition, Epstein had been a partner to Columbus Nova, though he left that company in 2017. 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.[28][29][30][31] Columbus Nova also stated that it had never been owned by Renova Group, though Renova Group had been their largest client.[32]

In September 2018, holding company NantWorks announced its strategic investment in Daybreak, and the resulting new venture in which the company will bring popular Daybreak games (including EverQuest and H1Z1) to mobile platforms.[33] Three rounds of layoffs occurred between April 2018 and October 2019; the December rounds was estimated to have affected around 70 people.[34][35]

Station.com

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.[36] November 2006. In August 2006, Station.com added several games by Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment.

ForgeLight engine

The ForgeLight engine is a game engine developed by the company, and used for Free Realms, Clone Wars Adventures, PlanetSide 2, Landmark, EverQuest Next, Just Survive, and H1Z1.[37]

Games

Title Release date Platform(s) Status Notes
PlanetSide Arena September 19, 2019 Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One Active Early Access on PC only; full PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One release scheduled for Q2 2020.
EverQuest Next Cancelled Windows, PlayStation 4[38]CanceledCanceled on March 11, 2016[39]
Z1 Battle Royale February 28, 2018 Windows, PlayStation 4 Active Formerly known as King of the Kill and H1Z1.
Landmark June 10, 2016 Windows[40][41]Closed 2017-02-21Was in parallel development with EverQuest Next
Just Survive January 15, 2015 Windows Closed October 2018 Was formerly the original game concept sold in early access, known simply as H1Z1, until it was split into two separate projects in February 2016. Was renamed as Just Survive in October 2017. Closed in October 2018.
PlanetSide 2 November 20, 2012 Windows, PlayStation 4 Active
Dragon's ProphetSeptember 23, 2013WindowsClosed 2015-11-16
Legends of NorrathMay 9, 2007WindowsClosed 2016-08-17
Bullet RunJuly 31, 2012WindowsClosed February 2013
Payday: The HeistOctober 4, 2011Windows, PlayStation 3ActiveDeveloped with Overkill Software
Magic: The Gathering – TacticsJanuary 18, 2011Windows, PlayStation 3Closed 2014-03-28
DC Universe OnlineJanuary 11, 2011Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox OneActive
Fortune LeagueJanuary 7, 2011FacebookClosed 2011-07-11Developed with Fastpoint Games
Star Wars: Clone Wars AdventuresSeptember 15, 2010WindowsClosed 2014-03-31
Peggle and Peggle NightsNovember 19, 2009PlayStation 3N/AHandled the port with PopCap Games
Free RealmsApril 28, 2009Windows, PlayStation 3Closed 2014-03-31Released March 29, 2011[42] for PS3
Bejeweled 2January 29, 2009PlayStation 3N/AHandled the port with PopCap Games
Plants vs. Zombies February 8, 2011PlayStation 3, PlayStation VitaN/AHandled the port with PopCap Games
Pirates of the Burning SeaJanuary 22, 2008WindowsActiveNow run by Portalus
God of War: BetrayalJune 20, 2007Java Platform, Micro EditionN/ACo-developed with Javaground and published by Sony Pictures Digital
Vanguard: Saga of HeroesJanuary 30, 2007WindowsClosed 2014-07-31Co-Published with Sigil Games
Untold Legends: Dark KingdomNovember 19, 2006PlayStation 3N/A
Cash Guns ChaosNovember 17, 2006PlayStation 3N/A
PoxNoraAugust 1, 2006WindowsClosed 2014-03-06Now run by Desert Owl Games
Field CommanderMay 23, 2006PSPN/A
Untold Legends: The Warrior's CodeMarch 28, 2006PSPN/A
The Matrix OnlineAugust 9, 2005WindowsClosed 2009-08Originally released on March 22, 2005. Acquired by SOE on August 9, 2005.
Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the BladeMarch 22, 2005PSPN/A
Champions: Return to ArmsFebruary 7, 2005PlayStation 2N/A
EverQuest IINovember 8, 2004WindowsActive
Champions of NorrathFebruary 10, 2004PlayStation 2N/A
Lords of EverQuestDecember 12, 2003WindowsN/ADeveloped by Rapid Eye Entertainment
ZumaDecember 12, 2003PlayStation 2N/AMade with PopCap Games Frameworks
Star Chamber: The Harbinger SagaNovember 2003WindowsClosed 2012-03
EverQuest Online Adventures: FrontiersNovember 17, 2003PlayStation 2Closed 2012-03
Star Wars GalaxiesJune 26, 2003WindowsClosed 2011-12Published by LucasArts. Closed after licensing with LucasArts ceased.
PlanetSideMay 20, 2003WindowsClosed 2016-07-01
EverQuest Online AdventuresFebruary 11, 2003PlayStation 2Closed 2012-03
Cosmic RiftApril 17, 2001WindowsClosed 2012-03
InfantryOctober 1999WindowsClosed 2012-03
EverQuestMarch 16, 1999WindowsActive
TanarusNovember 30, 1997WindowsClosed 2010-06

References

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  2. Keefer, John (March 31, 2006). "GameSpy Retro: Developer Origins, Page 19 of 19". GameSpy. Archived from the original on June 9, 2007.
  3. Parker, Sam (June 1, 2000). "Sony Acquires Verant". Retrieved May 12, 2007.
  4. William Vitka (February 21, 2006). "In 'Galaxies' Far, Far Away..." CBSNews.
  5. Chase, Matthew (December 16, 2005). "Star Wars Galaxies: AED Review for PC from". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on July 10, 2012. Retrieved July 22, 2012.
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  7. Socal Tech Article retrieved January 7, 2011
  8. Sacramento Bee Article retrieved January 7, 2011
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  12. Wikipedia Star Wars Galaxies entry
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  20. "Layoffs At Everquest Next Studio, Including Director Of Development Dave Georgeson".
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  23. "Linkedin for Russell Shanks". November 18, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
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  25. Bree Royce (December 20, 2016). "ASHERON'S CALL AND ITS SEQUEL WILL SUNSET AS PART OF THE TURBINE/STANDING STONE SPLIT". Massively Overpowered. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  26. "U.S. sanctions on Vekselberg have $1.5-$2 billion assets frozen:..." April 21, 2018. Retrieved January 23, 2019 via www.reuters.com.
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  29. "Russian Billionaire's Swiss Empire Rocked by U.S. Sanctions". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
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  39. "EQN News: A Letter from Daybreak's President". DaybreakGames.com. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
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