John Smedley, boss of H1Z1 and Planetside 2 developer Daybreak Game Company, is step down as CEO and President, it’s been announced.
Chief operating officer Russell Shanks will appearantly be taking over the running of the company, while Smedley is to return in a (presumably) less senior position after a break, VentureBeat has reported.
Smedley has run the company since 1998 – when it was known as Verant Interactive. In 2000, Sony purchased the company, renaming it Sony Online Entertainment. Daybreak has a long history of making MMOs, responsible for developing Everquest and its sequel, The Matrix Online and DC Universe Online, among many others. More recently, the studio created online MMOFPS Planetside 2 and zombie survival sim H1ZI.
Back in Feburary the studio split from Sony, changing its name to Daybreak Game Company.
Smedley’s resignation comes after a tough year for Daybreak, who has seen their games targeted a number of times by notorious hacking group Lizard Squad.
One hacker in particular drew Smedley’s ire: Julius “zeekill” Kivimaki, who Smedley claims was responsible for numerous personal attacks, including a hoax bomb threat made against a plane he was travelling on. Smedley and Kivimaki have had heated rows over social media, and they have escalated over the years. When Kivmaki escaped jail earlier last month despite being convicted of over 50,000 incidents of cybercrime, Smedley publically condemned the hacker – prompting yet another round of attacks against Daybreak’s games.
“I can confirm that John Smedley will be taking some time off from the company for the near-term and transitioning to a different role to be determined,” a spokesperson from Daybreak confirmed in a statement. “Upon finalization of his plans, further communication will be provided.”
No statement has been made by either John Smedley personally or Daybreak about whose decision it was for him to step down, but given Smedley’s many years of service the decision can’t have been an easy one to make.