Officials from Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) have confirmed that they have signed a long-term licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to acquire massively multiplayer online (MMO) game The Matrix Online. SOE will also develop a DC Comics MMO for the PC and next generation consoles.
This will be the third publisher for troubled MMO, The Matrix Online, which was originally slated to be released through publisher Ubisoft, and then went on to be co-published by Sega and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Despite significant publicity, the game has received mixed critical reviews thus far, and it appears that continuing maintenance on the title will transition from Warner Bros-owned creator Monolith to Sony Online, itself experienced with titles including EverQuest II and Planetside.
According to Sony Online Entertainment president, John Smedley: "SOE will work closely with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Comics to maintain the authenticity consumers demand from the DC Comics franchises. We will also take steps to continue the same high level of service that subscribers have come to expect from The Matrix Online game."
"Our goal is to deliver quality content and consistently advance our key properties within the online games space," said Jason Hall, senior vice president of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. "We've done just that with The Matrix Online. Because of our compelling work in developing and launching that game we can now move it over to the leaders in the MMO space, SOE. We look forward to working with SOE to enhance our overall services to massively multiplayer online gamers for The Matrix Online and a new DC Comics game."
The new DC Comics game will be developed by Sony Online, and is planned for a fourth-quarter release in 2007 for the PC and unnamed next generation consoles.
As a result of this shake-up, it's believed that Monolith's MMO division will largely be de-emphasized in favor of its other non-MMO teams, currently developing titles such as Condemned and F.E.A.R for Sega and Vivendi Universal respectively, with unconfirmed job layoffs likely resulting.
[UPDATE - 11.30am PST: It's also been confirmed that The Matrix Online will be added to Sony Online's Station Access subscription plan after the transition, SOE’s all-in-one monthly MMO subscription plan that includes access to EverQuest, EverQuest II, Star Wars Galaxies, PlanetSide, and EverQuest Online Adventures for the PlayStation 2.]