John Smedley Tagged Articles RSS Feed | John Smedley RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Smedley to Head San Diego Amazon Game Studio Wed, 15 Feb 2017 14:24:40 -0500 Emily Parker

Former Sony Online Entertainment President, John Smedley, will be leading Amazon's new game studio in San Diego. 

Smedley made a name for himself in the 90s when he was tasked to help create a persistent online universe for Sony. By 1999 his development team was ready to launch Everquest, which was a huge success and could be considered the game to bring MMORPGs to the masses.

He continued to lead projects for Sony Online Entertainment, including Star Wars: Galaxies, Everquest II, Planetside 2 and H1Z1. He even stayed on to help SOE transition to Daybreak Studios, after many of his colleagues and projects went to the chopping block. 

Stepping down from his position at SOE coincided with a heavy dose of harassment from the cybervandal group Lizard Squad. The conflict between a prominent member, Julius Kivimaki and Smedley came to a head with a bomb threat that landed the CEOs plane. 

Whether the harassment and his career transition are related or not is unknown, but it appears he won't be backing down with his new position at the head of Amazon's new Studio. Smedley has always been an innovator, and his team is already hard at work using Amazon Web Services Cloud and Twitch to create a new gaming world. 

Former Sony Online President opens studio, announces Hero's Song Tue, 19 Jan 2016 11:58:56 -0500 BlackTideTV

John Smedley, former President of Sony Online Entertainment has recently teamed up with Bill Trost, Patrick Rothfuss, Inon Zur, Joe Shoopack, Scott Maxwell, Dave Mark, and other industry veterans responsible for such titles as:

  • Tanarus
  • EverQuest
  • PlanetSide
  • Star Wars Galaxies
  • EverQuest II
  • FreeRealms
  • Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures
  • H1Z1

The product of this team effort is Pixelmage Games, a brand new studio, currently working on Hero's Song, a 2D pixel art action RPG.

Hero's Song is still deep in development, and the Pixelmage team has reached out to Kickstarter to raise the funds necessary for completion.

Playable as a single player or MMO game, Hero's Song allows players to choose which gods will rule their world. This choice affects everything from landscape, to family trees, to the afterlife, essentially making the game infinitely re-playable. 

Hero's Song will be hosted on players' personal servers which will allow hundreds of players concurrently. 

The game offers an extremely wide variety of races, classes, personalization, and more; the choice of these things dependent on the gods chosen to rule.

The story of Hero's Song will essentially be the same across every world (affected by choice of race/class etc), but the style of the land, the NPCs, and enemies encountered, and just about everything else is up to interpretation. The game is very much focused on storytelling and mythology.

Pixelmage Games is hoping to gather $800,000 in the next 29 days with multiple rewards to offer. Given the fact that almost 100 extra backers have joined the Kickstarter since I began reporting this article, they might actually do it.

The closest prospective release date for Hero's Song, if they raise their money, is October 2016.

John Smedley Starts New Company Sun, 23 Aug 2015 08:29:26 -0400 TheDeadlyMouse

It was reported the other day that John Smedley has officially left Daybreak Games and has started his own company.

In case you are thinking "Smedley who?" He was the president of SoE, which then became Daybreak Games after Sony sold it. In other words, they're the company behind EverQuest, EverQuest 2, PlanetSide 2 and DC Universe Online, just to name a few.

As of now all we know is what's posted on his official Facebook page. The post states that he started working as CEO at a new company and that more info is coming soon.

So that means there is no word as to what this new company's name is or what type it shall be. We're not sure if it will be an MMORPG only or if it will be a non-online gaming company - or both. They could focus on different options such as PC, console, or mobile gaming. Of course, it could turn out to be a mix of the three.

We all should know something in the coming weeks. Keep an eye open on here and on his Facebook and Twitter pages for more news on the matter.

Let us know what you think on all this in the comments.

Transparency: A look at John Smedley's influence on games Fri, 24 Jul 2015 08:32:14 -0400 Larry Everett

I have actually only talked to John Smedley once during an interview in 2012. He talked about Planetside 2 and a little bit about EverQuest Next, but mostly he talked about the direction of SOE and the influence of free-to-play games on the MMO industry. During that discussion, he said and reiterated that he didn't think that SOE would ever create a game that wasn't free-to-play ever again. 

As the driving force behind many of the games that I played, he has had an influence on my gaming career for about 12 years. I believe that everyone that pays attention to SOE or Daybreak Games was floored when the word came out that Smedley was taking a break from gaming for awhile and stepping down as CEO.

Of course, everyone that I know wishes him well and hopes that he returns soon. Anyone who has talked to him for any period of time knows that he has a passion for online gaming like no one else, and many hope that he returns to Daybreak very soon.

I know that many people have had issues with some of what Smed has said in the past. He said things that didn’t quite sit well with the gaming community at large, and he’s also made some decisions that didn’t make people happy.

But what I’d like to do today is talk about some of the amazing things that have happened and many groundbreaking steps in gaming that Daybreak and SOE made under John Smedley's leadership.

The popularization of the MMORPG

We cannot talk about John Smedley without talking about one of the greatest accomplishments in not just online gaming but gaming as a whole: EverQuest. Of course, EQ wasn’t the first fully online game to release. We had seen Ultima Online, Meridian 59, and a handful of others before the release of EverQuest. However, if anyone were to look at gaming historically, it would be EverQuest that brought MMORPGs to the forefront of gaming.

For many people EverQuest became much more than a game, it became a lifestyle. Although I cannot condone people becoming addicted to games, it was with EverQuest that we really began hearing stories of over a hundred hours a week being spent on games.

Mainstream media even picked up on it. Of course, mainstream media didn’t understand it, but the community managers, developers, and yes, John Smedley understood the importance of the game in people’s lives.

I believe it’s safe to say that EverQuest was a first. Although EQ wasn’t the first MMORPG, it paved its own path, and without EQ -- without John Smedley’s work -- there would be no World of Warcraft or many of the other MMORPGs that we enjoy today.

Taking huge risks with major IPs

My first major influence in the realms of MMORPGs was Star Wars Galaxies. I had played Ultima Online and Asheron's Call, but they didn’t hold me for a number of reasons that weren’t at all related to the games themselves. However, serendipity would allow me to play Star Wars Galaxies for a lengthy period of time. I had told my wife that I would likely not play the game for more than a couple of months before quitting. But this game grabbed me.

Of course, I don’t think that Smedley was the primary reason that I stuck with the game. In fact, given Smed’s statements about how H1Z1 would be the new home for Star Wars Galaxies player, I don’t really know that he understood why people played that game in the first place. But it was his influence as CEO of SOE that allowed the game to be made.

I think one of Smed’s primary skills isn’t necessarily being able to do everything himself, but he knows how to find and motivate good talent. And that’s what happened with SWG. Smed put together an amazing team of designers including the much beloved Raph Koster.

Although there were many major failures with Star Wars Galaxies, it still stands as an example of a company taking huge risk, not something you see very often anymore. And although Smedley gets more hate from the NGE than credit for taking a risk with SWG in the first place, I will give him credit and thanks for bringing that game into my life.

Leading the way for free-to-play in the western market

If creating Star Wars Galaxies was taking a big risk, then Free Realms was even bigger. I don’t think people give Free Realms enough credit for being a huge, groundbreaking MMORPG. Many of the things that we now take for granted were first found in Free Realms. I beta-tested this game, and I can tell you that Smedley was leading the charge in some of this games’ most innovative features.

The MMO press and players like to credit Dungeons and Dragons Online as proving that free-to-play MMOs can turn a profit and make a viable game. Then Lord of the Rings Online did it, too, giving developer Turbine the press-power to show the world that F2P works. But six months before the F2P conversion of DDO, another game launched and made amazing bank for its developer. Free Realms released in April 2009. I remember talking about it with other SOE fans and influencers, saying that there is no way for SOE to make money off this game unless they have a subscription. But Smed and his crew insisted that F2P was the wave of the future for MMOs in the west, and it would start with Free Realms.

The first persistent online first-person shooter

Alongside Star Wars Galaxies, another MMO launched in 2003 from SOE, it was an MMOFPS called Planetside. Some people called it way ahead of its time, and wish I could comment on it, but really wasn’t my kind of game at the time.

However, I can talk about Planetside 2.

In many ways this game was Smed’s baby. You could tell by the way that he would post random pieces of concept art on Twitter that he was really looking forward to this game’s release. In fact, it’s possible that Smed’s desire to get this game into players’ hands pushed its soft release too early. Regardless, the game was groundbreaking. The ability to have foot soldiers, vehicles, and aircraft all in one persistent had never been accomplished to the level of Planetside 2 before. Some can even say that it hasn’t been done since.

Needless to say, Smed’s made a huge impact on the gaming world. There are many I haven't even mentioned. I have not always agreed with every decision that he’s made nor every game that’s he’s spearheaded, but I cannot deny the influence he’s had on the gaming world. Speaking for myself, I’m glad that he’s taking a break from games and the like.

But, I do hope that he returns soon. The gaming industry needs more risk-takers and positive influences.

Transparency: 4 Reasons Gaming PR Isn't the Ultimate Evil Fri, 17 Jul 2015 10:49:13 -0400 Larry Everett

Most of the time we look at the Public Relations team as glorified salesmen for the gaming industry. It’s comical sometimes how little some PR teams know about the game or games they represent. And if you’ve worked with as many PR teams as I have, you’ll know that it’s beyond funny and into the realm of sad how many of these teams come across like they are trying to sell you snake oil, even when they are actually selling a really good game.

These PR teams also seem to personify the barrier between gaming journalism and the “real story.” Needless to say, PR doesn’t have the best rep and is often seen as the enemy when it comes to games journalism.

However, we saw this week four very specific and important reasons why game companies need PR teams. Maybe they aren't as evil as we like to think.

1. Stopping Daybreak DDoS

CEO of Daybreak, John Smedley, was rightfully upset at the wrist-slapping that the Finnish justice system gave the member of the hacking group Lizard Squad. Although the kid wasn’t tried for the bomb threat that forced Smedley’s plane to turn around earlier this year, he was partially responsible for the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) many gaming companies experienced this year, costing those companies large sums of money.

Lizard Squad not-so-subtly claimed that it was Smed’s rants that lead them to retaliating with a DDoS attacks on Daybreak itself. Of course, this particular attack was fixed rather quickly, but it did cause downtime for Daybreak’s games and websites.

Smedley eventually deleted his Twitter and Reddit account. He said on Reddit that it was of his own accord, but many people suspect that it was highly influenced by his friends and PR team. Many times the PR team acts as a much-needed filter for developers when dealing with high-profile issues that can and will affect a huge business. I’m not blaming Smed -- he was was only exercising his right to free speech -- but if what he said had been filtered by his PR team, it might have mitigated or prevented the resulting DDoS attack.

2. Clearing the Cloud of Misinformation

Also this week, we saw Line of Defense developer Derek Smart stir up trouble for Cloud Imperium, the company creating Star Citizen. Smart demanded, among many other things, that President and CEO Chris Roberts resign so that the game can actually release and not become the vaporware Smart is claiming it to be.

While I’m not even going to try to take sides in this argument, it is clear that the game needs a PR team to better propagate information to the public so that everyone knows better the state of affairs with the game. Of course, Roberts and his team have been very open and vocal about clearing up this mess, but much of what PR teams do is spread that word to the ether, giving more people the correct information -- hopefully.

3. Shutting a Smart Mouth

In the same instance as above and a previous blog post, Smart could have used a PR team, too, but for a different reason. Sometimes, even when you have a good point, if you continue to harp on the issue, it doesn’t make the right impression.

Also, if you mock or belittle the opposition, it paints even a justified accuser in a bad light and spoils what could have been a very legitimate reason for calling out someone for wrong-doing.

In Smart’s specific case, not only did he belittle Chris Roberts, but he also belittled the people who defended Roberts. Those are the people you’re trying to convince, man! Had Smart (a developer with his own company to concern himself with) had a PR team backing him up, it could have convinced him to stop talking when the battle was at a standstill. Pouring more words on a heat battle only serves to fan the flame against you.

4. RaiderZ and the missing developer

I know everyone is sad about Perfect World Entertainment's shutdown of RaiderZ. (I’m kidding, most people have probably never heard of the game.) This game, originally created by MAIET, was intended to be stiff competition for TERA with its action combat. However, as it turns out, MAIET shut down months ago, yet PWE continued to run the game without telling its western audience.

Now, I don’t know who could have used a better PR team, PWE or MAIET, but someone needed better communication because the press release reads like PWE called up MAIET for its monthly meeting only to find out that the phone was disconnected:

“In the past, we have been working with MAIET, the developer of RaiderZ, in order to troubleshoot and solve issue to keep the game available for the players. Unfortunately, MAIET is no longer operating anymore.

“Since there’s no more active developer, it’s very difficult to troubleshoot any issue that happen to RaiderZ. We’re unable to deliver a quality experience to you, our players, so we’ve made the difficult decision to shut down RaiderZ.”

Well, duh, you’re shutting it down. I’m not sure where the communication breakdown happened, but it’s clear that PWE’s PR team is attempting to cover up some odd SNAFU. That said, had its PR team got ahold of this information faster or if MAIET had an actual PR team, this public weirdness could have been smoothed over.


As much as I dislike dealing with some of the loopholes PR teams create, we need to understand why they're here in the first place. Despite some of the clearly jargon-filled press releases, these teams of wordsmiths can do an amazing job of preventing internet explosions and painting a realistic picture of the company they represent.

I do not envy the jobs of these marketing managers and PR workers; it’s clearly important that public companies need them, if only as a buffer.

But the conversation doesn’t end here. Let me know your thoughts on these situations in the comments below. How could they have been handled better, and are there any big PR blunders that happened this week that I missed?

Planetside 2 Server Apoptosis Wed, 20 Feb 2013 10:49:40 -0500 Mat Westhorpe

Planetside 2 officially launched on 20 November 2012 and has now been live for precisely three months. The initial honeymoon period saw a predictable surge of interest generated by marketing and player curiosity was further enabled by the free-to-play model. Clearly, that period has subsided and a more stable player-base has begun to emerge.

Earlier today, John Smedley, President of Sony Online Entertainment, tweeted:


This statement will undoubtedly have many a doom-monger reaching for their “The End of Planetside 2 is Nigh” placards. At this stage I think it is safe to politely ignore them.

Community Voices

As this natural fall-off of players took place, calls for server transfers and merges began to appear across PS2 communities as the grand battle scenarios of full servers became harder to find. As Redditor theDashRendar posted;

“The biggest, biggest selling point of Planetside 2 is that it offers massive battles... So it is important to have lots and lots of players playing at all times to actually show off the game.”

An excellent series of forum posts by community member, BuzzCutPsycho, details many areas of potential improvement for Planetside 2 developers to consider, amongst them a section entitled “Mergers Not Transfers – This is Essential to the Survival of Planetside" in which he states;

"In Planetside 2, the content is the players. Because of this, the game is not enjoyable with a low population."

It makes sense then, that SOE listens to its customers and adapts to this changing population for maximum benefit. After all, nobody wants to log on to wander an empty battlefield. Reducing the number of available servers will intensify the combat for a more engaging experience.

A Healthy Prognosis?

But equally, it was important at launch for SOE to be able to accommodate the initial interest – imagine the outcry and negative publicity had there been too few servers and players were unable to get their mass-combat fix. Far better to have an excess of servers three months down the line.

I see this turn of events as a natural part of the growth of Planetside 2. In the development of the human body, more cells than necessary are used, and only when the natural process of cell death occurs do structures like fingers form from the initial tissue mass (avoiding webbed fingers). What we are seeing in Planetside 2 is necessary apoptosis, to avoid the damaging process of necrosis (uncontrolled tissue death). After all, nobody wants "leaky, blobbing" anything, especially entire online communities.

Providing SOE can adapt to these changing biorhythms as they seem to be, there will no doubt be many similar peaks and troughs in the future of Planetside 2 but it will all be part of the natural growth cycle.

Tell the doom-mongers to stick a band-aid on it and carry on.