Former SOE exec now Cryptic CEO

John Needham, former senior VP at Sony Online Entertainment has joined the superhero MMOG-making lineup.

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Sony's internal online-focused studio, Sony Online Entertainment, has been responsible for a number of well-known titles over the years including EverQuest, Star Wars Galaxies, GripShift, Field Commander, Untold Legends: The Warrior's Code, and the upcoming massively multiplayer online game, The Agency.

Back in March, Sony announced that SOE would no longer be part of Sony Pictures Entertainment and instead would fall under the Sony Computer Entertainment banner, reporting to SCE group president and CEO Kazuo Hirai. In addition, Yair Landau, vice chairman for Sony Pictures Entertainment, announced he would be leaving the company after 17 years of service. Landau oversaw SOE in addition to other divisions.

It appears that following the assimilation into SCE, another exec at SOE has moved on. John Needham, former senior vice president of Business Development and Operations for Sony Online Entertainment, has joined developer Cryptic Studios as chief executive officer.

President of Cryptic Studios Michael Lewis said in a statement today, "John Needham's proven leadership in the MMO space makes him a dynamic fit for heading up Cryptic's new corporate direction. As a senior vice president of Sony Online Entertainment he has contributed greatly to the growth of the industry and we're excited to combine his operational experience with our vision for the future of online games."

Cryptic, like SOE, has been responsible for a number of online role-playing games, including the superhero-themed City of Heroes and City of Villains. The studio also worked on Marvel Universe Online, which was (Marvel Universe Online officially offline) subsequently canceled by the game's publisher, Microsoft Games Studios. MGS head Shane Kim didn't go into details other than confirming "Microsoft and Marvel have decided to discontinue that project."

Shortly after that, the studio quickly announced it would be release a new superhero MMO, Champions Online for the PC and Xbox 360 and currently slated for a spring 2009 release.

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