An article in a recent issue of Game Informer recently perked my thinking muscles and I thought I would write about it. The article in question was over the new face of Sony Online Entertainment, now Daybreak Game Company after their recent purchase by Columbus Nova, and the changes that might be made in relation to their products.
It’s not much of a surprise that Sony sold off SOE. According to the Game Informer article Sony was projecting a loss of $1.45 billion in the fiscal year that ends today (coincidence). Letting SOE go saves them $52.8 million. This can easily be seen as a drop in the bucket, but a company will do whatever it can in order to manage the bottom line. Truth be told, SOE always seemed like a strange beast to me. When it comes to gaming I see Sony products as primarily on their own platforms, and almost never as also being on the PC. The pain in knowing that there are no plans for Bloodborne to come to PC haunts me to this very day.
Columbus Nova, an investment company founded in 2000, has made some ventures into the gaming industry before. Senior Managing Partner Jason Epstein bought Harmonix from Viacom, but this is the company’s first real acquisition of a game company. The turmoil caused by these changes have led to some of the studios other offices being closed and employees losing their jobs but it seems like Columbus Nova has no plans to let Daybreak wither away now that it’s been kicked out of its original home.
Even though I’ve never played any of the games that have come out of SOE, I can easily acknowledge their legacy. The Everquest franchise is known for being of the predominant MMOs before the coming of World of Warcraft. Add to that games like Planetside 2, DC Universe Online and many others dating back to 1997.
Daybreak Game Company is continuing to work right where they left off. Their most recent project, the zombie survival game H1Z1. Still in early access, the game has come under recent controversy over some of the issues that players have had. Cheaters have had a rather easy job manipulating clipping bugs in order to abuse the game’s code, while others have straight up griefed new players. Some have even had other players warp to them, kill them, and lose all of the resources that they have built up over their playthrough.
Throughout these issues the game has still sold moderately well for an early access title with a little over a million downloads sold on Steam. It would be a safe assumption to say that H1Z1 isn’t going anywhere, but the presence of so many game breaking issues this far into development could be seen as worrying. The gamer population rarely gives a game much of a free pass when it comes to broken gameplay or bugs that disrupt the game or make it unbearable to play. The impact can already start to be seen in the Steam reviews, which could very easily prevent prospective buyers from purchasing the game.
Now that I have all of those titles, numbers, and links out of the way I’m going to go down a little more of an editorial route. I spent the last few weeks, maybe more that a few to be fair, playing the Korean free-to-play MMO ArcheAge. This last week I quit the game due to a growing list of problems I had with the game, with a particular one sending me over the top. This is worth its own article and I’ll do my best to accommodate that. Many of Daybreak’s more successful games are free-to-play, and the way games like this are handled tend to concern me. Real money shops are often unavoidable and make the game seem more like something you would see on the Apple Store with a certain fee required to proceed after a certain point. More focus is spent on providing ways for the player to spend more money on the game than actually improving the game itself. Seeing the recent news of Halo Online brought up more of these concerns when I saw the ability to buy equipment with in-game credits and real world money.
I have yet to play any game by Daybreak, so I cannot say that they are like this. Reading about their acquisition simply spurred these thoughts. Extra Credits did an episode on free-to-play games that I think perfectly explain my grievances.
I have much more to say about all of this and I will when I get around to writing my review for ArcheAge, but I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about Daybreak Game Company. I think that, with their new owner, Daybreak is at a point where they can go either way. Having a new owner provides the company with the possibility for a new direction.