Does it ever seem weird to you when companies involved in gaming show up in big political dramas in the real world? Because it still does to me and I’ve been doing this for almost nine years. Today we’re mystified to be covering the Columbus Nova story once again, as the company’s just surfaced in the reveal of the redacted documents taken under warrant from the home of Michael Cohen, the former Trump lawyer who pleaded guilty last year to multiple counts of fraud and campaign finance violations in connection to the long-running Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.
According to CNN’s report on one sliver of the newly released papers, Cohen’s documents suggest that Columbus Nova, owned by Renova Group (which itself is owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg), paid in excess of $500,000 to Cohen’s “consulting” group. It is not clear what exactly what these payments were for.
Here’s why we’re following this leg of the political drama: In 2018, our story of the year focused on Columbus Nova, which MMORPG studio Daybreak had maintained was its owner beginning in 2015. But a year ago, Daybreak claimed to Massively OP that it was not and never had been owned by Columbus Nova, in spite of three years of press releases and legal documents to the contrary. It also claimed that Renova never owned Columbus Nova, for that matter. Both bizarre claims resonated across the gaming world and mainstream press, particularly after the companies apparently began deleting online documents and NBC discovered that Columbus Nova had registered multiple domains that appeared to be set up for disinfo spam.
We covered this story and its weird twists and turns exhaustively in 2018 – here’s a complete run-down: