GameSpot recently had the opportunity to catch up with Scott McDaniel, vice president of marketing at Sony Online Entertainment, to get an update on the company's plans for expanding its business and get the latest word on some of its upcoming PC games. Specifically, McDaniel spoke about the development status of the highly anticipated online games Star Wars Galaxies and PlanetSide. The development of Star Wars Galaxies--on which Sony's Online's internal studio Verant Interactive is working closely with the game's license holder, LucasArts--is progressing as planned. In fact, several servers for the game have recently been activated, and the development team is currently able to go online with the game to test server performance and capacities. In terms of the game itself, the combat system has not been implemented yet. "Right now, you can't take out your lightsaber and fight with it," McDaniel admitted. However, the development team is currently optimizing the texture detail and creating the character models, which McDaniel says will be "highly realistic" for the genre. Star Wars Galaxies, which originally had a tentative Q3 2002 release date, has now been pushed back one quarter and will be released near the end of 2002.
Speaking on PlanetSide, McDaniel said that although the game will be twitch-based, the development team is working specific gameplay mechanics into the title to reduce latency issues between broadband and narrowband users. According to McDaniel, the game will be quite playable over a 56k connection. The general development on PlanetSide is little behind that of Star Wars Galaxies. McDaniel expects the game to be ready for release in Q1 2003.
Sony Online has high hopes for both games, but the company isn't limiting itself to those two titles and its highly successful EverQuest series, which has more than 430,000 subscribers to date. McDaniel pointed out that the company is currently developing Sovereign, a real-time strategy game, and is also considering 3-4 projects in other genres. Further expanding its business, a redesign of The Station is also planned, as the company aims to expand the reach of its games and service beyond the hard-core audience. McDaniel sees the next two to three years as critical to the online games market and feels online gaming has the potential to become a viable stand-alone business, alongside, and not wholly dependent on, the PC and console businesses. GameSpot will have more on Sony Online Entertainment's games in the coming weeks. For more information, take a look at our previous coverage of Star Wars Galaxies , Star Wars Galaxies , and Star Wars Galaxies .