John Smedley: Exclusive Interview with the SOE CEO

Dana Massey | 1 Oct 2007 22:17
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In the last year and a half, Smedley has not just expanded the company's in-house MMO portfolio, but also its role as a 3rd party publisher of games. First, they announced Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising as part of their Platform Publishing label. Then, last month, they and developer Perpetual Entertainment clarified that relationship. SOE continues to handle marketing and distribution, but Perpetual does everything else and is now officially the publisher.

Then, a few weeks later, Perpetual announced they had laid off as many as 40 people and delayed the game into 2008.

"I think the game is coming along nicely and the Perpetual guys are having to make business decisions based on the state of the game," Smedley noted. "In a company our size we have the benefit of being able to move people to other projects."

Unfortunately, Perpetual only has one and while an unknown number of people were moved to Star Trek Online, not all could be accommodated.

"They've been holding the game back for quality and to make sure the game runs smoothly and that means a lot of the content, like art and stuff, is done," he explained.

The other game currently on the way is Pirates of the Burning Sea, from Seattle's Flying Lab Software. They only just announced the deal a couple months ago, but so far, there has been no drama on route to a launch in the next few months.

All of these new games represent an obvious diversification. In the next few years, SOE will have two popular science-fiction IPs (Matrix and Star Wars), four fantasy MMOs (EQ, EQII, EQ:OA and Vanguard), a comic-book MMO (DC Comics), a pirate game (Pirates of the Burning Sea), a spy game (The Agency), an MMOFPS (Planetside, which Smedley says he hopes to give a significant update) and a mythology driven title (Gods and Heroes). They also have a low-profile, but ambitious casual virtual world for a younger crowd on the way in FreeRealms.

All they need now is ninjas and they've hit every gaming theme currently in use.

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