SOE folded into SCE, Landau exits

Formerly semi-independent MMOG specialist now officially part of Sony Computer Entertainment; Sony Pictures exec departs.

During last year's E3 Media & Business Summit, Sony Computer Entertainment had more than a few industry watchers scratching their heads on the announcement that South Korea-based massively multiplayer online aficionados NCsoft had been signed on to create games for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable. Sony, after all, already has its own internal online-focused studio, Sony Online Entertainment, and the announcement left some to question the future of the MMOG publishing house.

However, it now seems as if SCE has no intention of distancing itself from the MMOG publisher after all. Far from it, given that Sony announced today that SOE would now report directly to SCE group president and CEO Kazuo Hirai as of April 1. Previously, San Diego-based SOE was a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

According to today's announcement, SOE's integration into the Japanese giant's computer-entertainment business will "mutually benefit both companies by further accelerating the PlayStation business through SOE's strong online-gaming expertise." SCE also plans to keep SOE on the MMOG beat, developing games for the PC and PS3. SOE president John Smedley will retain his role at the publisher, reporting now to Hirai.

SOE's stable of games has grown dramatically in the past year. In addition to flagship titles EverQuest, EverQuest 2, Star Wars Galaxies, and Planetside, the publisher has picked up the publishing rights to Flying Lab Software's Pirates of the Burning Sea and Virgin Comics' Ramayan 3392 A.D., and also announced its in-house-developed espionage-themed MMOG The Agency for the PS3 and PC.

SOE's "strategic" departure from Sony Pictures Entertainment isn't the only shake-up at the Hollywood production studio today. According to The Hollywood Reporter, longtime Sony Pictures Entertainment vice chairman Yair Landau, who presided over SOE among several other divisions of Sony's film business, announced he would be ending his 17-year tenure with the company as of April.

Landau has been instrumental in the marrying of Sony's games and film businesses, notably brokering the Metal Gear Solid movie deal with Studio Kojima in 2006. The Hollywood Reporter notes that Landau plans to continue in the games and animation space, with the exec saying, "Online entertainment from all formats--(be it) animation, live-action games on the PS3--is going to be relevant to what I do."

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34 comments
SS_Lord
SS_Lord

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Zoomer30
Zoomer30

SWG never had billions or even millions of people playing it. Saying it had 10s of k's of people would be a strech. Hopefully KOTOR can do better, but I dont know. MMOs are losing people left and right, they just get to dull too fast and cost too much.

Sugamama9944
Sugamama9944

Slayer420 is right. I was also surprised when it said flagship games like Star Wars Galaxies. For instance, that game had "billions" of people playing it, then they "improved" it and now there are "thousands" of people playing it. Well anyways, this might be some good news as they wouldnt be able to screw up MMORPGs without the consent of Sony.

Slayer420
Slayer420

Did they just mention "Flagship" and Star Wars Galaxies in the same sentence? SWG has become the glaring example of what NOT to do in terms of MMOs. Let us all take a moment and realize that SOE found a way to fail while using the Star Wars name right in the title of the game.. I would hardly see this as a highly positive piece of news.

Autolycus
Autolycus

interesting changes happening all over Sony. Maybe they finally understand that customers own them, not the other way around.

hex222
hex222

Finally Sony are reordering their buisnesses, I think SOE should be a semi-indie development company, like SOHO or MediaMolecule. Mabye now Sony Pictures will stop selling MGM films on the 360 before the PS3.

ghost867
ghost867

I don't know about SOE specifically, but I know that Sony has great first party publishing as a whole. They pump a lot of money into their games, they have great relations with their first party developers, a lot of which they don't even own. And they help them as much as possible. So hopefully, this is for the best. The Agency looks great, and I wouldn't want to see it end up poorly.

rgjj
rgjj

does that mean vangaurd might come out on ps3?

D_E_E_G_S
D_E_E_G_S

Good now maybe SOE can start making good games again. Ever since abandoning EQOA (its still alive but they didn't do anything after Frontiers to keep people coming back or to attract new players) they have made nothing but crap on console.

WeWerePirates
WeWerePirates

About time! SoE is a joke, their past is just a catalogue of failures and a couple of luckout successes. The problems only really come down to a few personalities who were given too much free reign to fluff their egos. If it hadn't been for the inexplicable success of Ever Quest this would have happened long ago. It's well past time Sony tightened the leash.

runstalker
runstalker

This also mean plenty of additional support for Home.

YourDaddy88
YourDaddy88

Avenger 1324 - lol, my head is still spinning too.

Maersyndel
Maersyndel

Can't wait for The Agency...as long as that game is as good as I'm hoping, then I don't care either way.

Naiboss
Naiboss

Sounds like a plan to me! SOE take a lot of flak these days for funding MMOs that haven't quite lived up to expectation (the SWG mistake is in the past... I hated it as well but please let it go now). That said, some of the work they have been doing on EQ Live and EQ2 recently has been quite impressive, I only hope this doesn't change.

Wolverine1701
Wolverine1701

lol @ SWG as a flagship title. I hope SCE doesn't really expect anything amazing from that department.

Avenger1324
Avenger1324

too... many... acronyms... So SOE, the makers of SWG & EQ2, are to report to the CEO of SCE to make an MMO for the PS3 after SCE signed NCSoft at EEE 07?

Am3bix
Am3bix

lol @ smedley, no planetside mention, and the general failings of SOE as a company. They're getting sent to daddy's room for a scolding now! ha.

NandoSupes
NandoSupes

very interesting this will open the gate to a better structure when it comes to making MMOG on the PS3, since Mr.Hirai is overseeing both imo.I also believe this move has a lot to do with Home by making the transition better. running SCE ans SOE this way will provide a better online experience this is a smart move by Sony.

Zonekill9
Zonekill9

SOE wants money ? Continue developping the concept of Planetside. It's a concept with an insane ammount of potential. Sad to see it wasted.

VegasAceVII
VegasAceVII

Whatever, after what they did to Everquest, Everquest Online Adventures and Star Wars Galaxies, who really cares about them anymore?

Bodboy466
Bodboy466

It seemed to me that SOE had been treading on thin ice for quite awhile. Untold Legends alone had me questioning the studio- I think this will ultimately be a good thing.

BloodMist
BloodMist

Judging by how SWG got butchered this is definitely not a good thing.Well maybe it doesn't matter, i just felt like saying that.

playa42018
playa42018

I predict a lot of sub-par MMOs will coming out.

Suuji
Suuji

EverQuest on PS3 is good.

nemes1s3000
nemes1s3000

Let's see how much good can come out of this.

sphinx-shadow
sphinx-shadow

As long as The Agency comes out i don't care what kind of sony logo is on the box.

Obliterati
Obliterati

Hm, considering how tangled Sony's corporate structure is, a little streamlining like this is probably a good idea.