After spinning out of Sony, the online game company known for titles like H1Z1 and DC Universe Online is spreading its wings. That includes making games for non-Sony platforms such as the Microsoft Xbox One, said John Smedley, chief executive at Daybreak Game Company, in an interview with GamesBeat.
In the past, the game company formerly known as Sony Online Entertainment published its games such as EverQuest or DC Universe Online on the PC or Sony’s consoles. But Smedley said that the company now has a chance to make games on platforms such as mobile or Xbox.
“We were with Sony for a really long time, and this was a great opportunity we have been given to fly on our own,” Smedley said. “We were fortunate enough to find really good investors in Columbus Nova, and we really feel like we are spreading our wings for the very first time. We are very excited.”
He added, “We are able to be the company we always knew we were capable of being. Now we can make games for all different platforms. We can do mobile games. We can do iPad games. We can do Xbox games.”
The first job is to take the games the company has now and publish them on the Xbox One game console from Microsoft, Smedley said. One of the first titles that will migrate is DC Universe Online, an online superhero game that has been played by more than 20 million people. Daybreak’s games are all free-to-play titles with millions of users who congregate in massively multiplayer online role-playing environments. DC Universe Online continues to be one of the top revenue generating free-to-play titles on the PlayStation Network.
During the past week, San Diego, Calif.-based Daybreak Game Company started the process of rebranding. The company figured out its identity and created a new logo (pictured at top). It has also moved to a new headquarters.
“We just wanted to Daybreak the Internet,” said Laura Naviaux, senior vice president of global sales and marketing, in an interview. “The rebranding was a complete fresh start, knowing that gaming was in our blood and the DNA is in our player base. We wanted to do something that is a nod to video game culture.”
The logo features an owl’s eye, which has a gear in it. It is a nod to both the nocturnal nature of gamers and their techie roots.
“Employees wanted a name that was indicative of a fresh start,” Naviaux said.
Daybreak had to get itself in shape to be competitive. It laid off 140 employees in February.
“We needed to streamline and get on a better financial footing,” Smedley said. “We are happy about it now. But it is a lot of pain to lose your friends.”
It now has 250 employees, and it is operating 10 games, including EverQuest, EverQuest 2, PlanetSide 2, DC Universe Online, and H1Z1.
It is developing Landmark and EverQuest Next, the successors to EverQuest. Smedley said that the newest zombie game, H1Z1, has 1.2 million players. It has also generated more than $22 million in revenue.
Even though Daybreak has left Sony, it may still have a focus on branded games.
“We look at intellectual property through the lens of what is fun to us,” Smedley said. “We have DC Universe Online as a licensed title, but we also make our own stuff.”
During 2015, Smedley said the teams will focus taking existing franchises to the next generation consoles. Smedley said that PlayStation 4 players are more than 40 percent of the game’s new registered players. And the console players of the game purchase items at 3.6 times the rate of PC players. Console players also account for 76 percent of total hours played in DC Universe Online.
PlanetSide 2, which launched as a free-to-play title on the PC in November 2012, began its closed beta testing on the PS4 in January, and that game is expected to launch on the console this summer.
In 2016, it plans to launch EverQuest Next.
As to why Sony sold off the division, Smedley said, “Sony is looking at assets that are not core. We were always outside the core because we were on the PC. They believed they could get a good deal for us. It was a win-win.”
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