Koster leaves Sony Online

Creative boss departs; SOE says strategic goals of company and man "don't match."


Raph Koster, chief creative officer of Sony Online Entertainment, and one of the leaders behind the development of Star Wars Galaxies, has left the company, SOE reps confirmed today.

Based in Austin, Texas, Koster is widely considered an expert when it comes to the design of massively multiplayer online games. He often participates in event panels and maintains an active blog that focuses on the nuances of the genre.

Koster is leaving his post of six years "to pursue development interests outside of the company," SOE said.

"Although his current interests take him into areas that don't match SOE's strategic goals, we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors."

Prior to joining SOE's Austin studio, Koster was part of the Ultima Online team at Origin Systems. In addition to Galaxies, Koster was instrumental in the development of EverQuest II at SOE.

Koster's departure wasn't the only piece of scuttlebutt making the rounds today, but it was perhaps the most accurate. There was also a rumor circulating that SOE would soon lose the rights to the Star Wars license--and suffer the fate of having to delete or otherwise retire the "Star Wars" component of its Galaxies MMORPG title; SOE called that speculation "completely untrue."

And in related news, industry sources confirmed to GameSpot that Sony Online vice president of business development Cindy Armstrong would soon assume a high-level role at Webzen America, the stateside outpost of Korean giant Webzen.

Noting that the US subsidiary has no CEO, it is likely Armstrong will take over in that capacity.

A Webzen rep told GameSpot the company "doesn't have a contract with her" and emphasized "there are no formal announcements, and we cannot confirm [speculation]."

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