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Sony Online Entertainment

From Academic Kids

Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) is a computer game development division of Sony that mostly creates massively multiplayer online games. SOE is best known for producing EverQuest, PlanetSide, and Star Wars Galaxies, which have gained hundreds of thousands of subscribers. SOE also owns Verant Interactive.

Contents

History

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EverQuest_Box_Art.jpg
EverQuest was Verant's breakthrough success and the franchise continues its popularity with Sony Online Entertainment.

Sony Online Entertainment and Verant'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 computer role-playing game that would evolve into EverQuest. He hired Brad McQuaid and Steve Clover as programmers for the game in March.

In April 1998, Sony Online Entertainment was formed by merging Sony Online Ventures with Sony Pictures Entertainment. [1] (http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/19841) Within months SISA was renamed 989 Studios. EverQuest, which was credited to being developed by 989 and published by SOE at launch, entered beta in 1998.

Towards the end of 1998, 989 Studios shifted 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. [2] (http://www.cdmag.com/articles/017/143/verant.html) EverQuest was released in March 1999 and promptly earned commercial success.

After EQ

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Star_Wars_Galaxies_Box_Art.jpg
SWG was a big production that attempted to reach out to the vast Star Wars audience.

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. [3] (http://www.cdmag.com/articles/027/103/verant.html) SOE acquired Verant on June 1, 2000 and eventually promoted Brad McQuaid to be SOE's Chief Creative Officer. [4] (http://www.gamespot.com/pc/rpg/everquesttheruinsofkunark/news_2580857.html) EverQuest: The Ruins of Kunark (March 2000) was the first in a long list of expansions for SOE/Verant's hit MMORPG. 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 their Vanguard: Saga of Heroes MMORPG. [5] (http://www.sigilgames.com/000003.php)

SOE released Star Wars Galaxies in 2003, which saw rapid growth as expected. Bruce Woodcock of MMOGChart.com (http://www.mmogchart.com/) estimates that SWG reached nearly 300,000 subscribers within the year, but has not grown significantly since. Since then, SOE has released two expansions for Star Wars Galaxies, "Jump to Lightspeed" which released in October 2004, and "Rage of the Wookies" in May 2005. In 2003 the company also explored relatively untouched MMO territory with the MMOFPS PlanetSide and the PlayStation 2 MMORPG EverQuest Online Adventures. Neither turned out to be hits, yet SOE still maintains and develops them (as of 2005). SOE continued producing EverQuest expansions, launching The Legacy of Ykesha in March and Lost Dungeons of Norrath in September.

Currently, John Smedley is the president of Sony Online Entertainment. SOE's headquarters are in San Diego, California, with studios in Austin, Texas and Seattle, Washington (formed on February 3, 2005). The company released the first SWG expansion, Jump to Lightspeed in October 2004 and EverQuest II in November 2004. SOE continues to maintain its other online games, including the original EverQuest, releasing the EverQuest: Dragons of Norrath expansion on February 15, 2005.

On January 17, 2005, Sony Online Entertainment announced the creation of Station Publishing, a new label for distributing titles made by external developers. The first products expected from Station Publishing are Turbine's Asheron's Call: Throne of Destiny and Asheron's Call 2: Legions expansions.

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.

SOE also makes more casually-oriented online games through Station.com (http://www.station.com/), such as Jeopardy! Online and Wheel of Fortune Online, Infantry, Cosmic Rift, and Tanarus.

References

  • Keighley, Geoff (August 2002). The Sorcerer of Sony (http://www.business2.com/b2/web/articles/0,17863,514908,00.html). Business 2.0 (http://www.business2.com/).

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