If you wondered what John Smedley was up to following the death of Pixelmage Games and Hero’s Song in December, now you have an answer: Amazon Game Studios picked him up to run a sub-studio in San Diego.
“We’re excited to announce an all-new Amazon Games Studio based in San Diego and led by industry veteran John Smedley,” says a PR blast from AGS today. “John’s pioneering work helped define the modern MMO, and his influence can be felt in thousands of games that followed. He helped create the blueprint for fusing massive game worlds with vibrant player communities, a vision that we share at Amazon Game Studios. That’s why we’re excited to announce that John has joined Amazon Games Studios to lead an all-new team in San Diego.”
Apparently, Smed and his team are “already hard at work on an ambitious new project that taps into the power of the AWS Cloud and Twitch to connect players around the globe in a thrilling new game world.”
Smed is well known to MMORPG players for his stewardship of MMORPG company Sony Online Entertainment (EverQuest, PlanetSide, DC Universe Online) for nearly two decades. SOE split from Sony in 2015 and became the Columbus Nova-funded Daybreak, while Smed himself left Daybreak in mid-2015 following a very public harassment campaign against him and the company.
At the beginning of 2016, Smed announced he’d founded Pixelmage Games and was Kickstarting an indie retro sandbox MMO called Hero’s Song, but several missteps made over the course of the year (we chronicled some of them just this week) led to the demise of the company and cancellation of the game just over seven weeks ago, resulting in refunds to those who’d donated to or purchased the game.
Amazon’s gaming unit spent most of last year scooping up MMORPG developers left and right, most famously from Seattle-based Guild Wars 2 studio ArenaNet. In September of 2016, AGS announced it was working on multiple new online games, including a straight-up MMORPG sandbox called New World.