Sony Online Entertainment, the development studio behind Planetside 2, H1Z1, and Everquest, made a surprise announcement Monday that caught most of the game industry off guard. The nearly 20-year old internal MMO development studio for Sony was sold to an investment firm and will now begin developing games for the Xbox One in addition to the PlayStation 4 and PC.
An investment management firm named Columbus Nova purchased Sony Online Entertainment from Sony, the company announced on the Sony forums and Reddit. The developer’s new name is Daybreak Game Company, and it will operate as an independent game development studio.
“Yes, that means PlayStation and Xbox, mobile and more!” the announcement revealed.
This was echoed by President John Smedley on Twitter.
That doesn’t mean development on Planetside 2, H1Z1, or any other existing titles like DC Universe Online will suddenly change. Daybreak Game Company owns the intellectual property rights for all of these games. They will still hang around as long as the studio keeps bringing in money to support them and Columbus Nova continues to provide the backing.
“It will be business as usual and all SOE games will continue on their current path of development and operation. In fact, we expect to have even more resources available to us as a result of this acquisition. It also means new exciting developments for our existing IP and games as we can now fully embrace the multi-platform world we are living in.”
H1Z1 and Everquest Next are the current titles in development at Daybreak. Meanwhile, Planetside 2 just launched a closed beta on the PlayStation 4. It is being used as the lead game that will allow the studio to bring H1Z1 and Everquest over to consoles. Since this announcement was just made, there’s no timetable on when these games might appear on other consoles, much less the PlayStation 4.
At the very least, Columbus Nova’s purchase of SOE helps explain the decision behind H1Z1 being offered as a Steam Early Access Game. The funding necessary to create the game wasn’t coming from Sony, and that’s obviously because they were in the process of selling the studio.