John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, hasjust delivered a keynote address for GamesBeat 2009 that covers the history of SOE, and its bold new strategy to expand in the market.
He begins by telling the story of his earliest experience playing an online game through early online service GEnie – and getting a bill for $600 at the end of the month.
“As I got excited by online gaming, I was able to get my company, Sony, to invest in online gaming.”
That game was EverQuest, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary. And it’s worth noting that without EverQuest, there would be no World of Warcraft.
Smedley describes the nuances of running something that wasn’t a traditional retail boxed product. “This is not just a game, it’s a service.”
Original massively multiplayer online games were most often based on the Dungeons and Dragons offline fantasy role-playing game, and were played by males.
But Smedley is most proud of SOE’s latest project, Free Realms. “This is our attempt to broaden our demographic out,” he tells the audience. The goal is fifty-fifty male/female.
“It’s primarily aimed at ten-to-twelve-year-old boys and girls,” Smedley explains, adding that the game is built with specific experiences for girls, specific experiences for girls, and even ways that families can play together.
SOE has been known for its development of PC titles, but Smedley says Free Realms will be heading to the PS3. “Rest assured, we think the PlayStation3 is an excellent platform for online games.”