Storybricks Wanted to Buy Everquest

Straight from their “we’re closing the doors email” that went out a few hours ago:

There is one more story to tell before we part ways.

We fell in love with the EverQuest franchise and we wanted the best possible future for it. We knew Sony Online (300+ employees IIRC) was for sale so Storybricks (barely 10 people) tried to actually buy out the whole division.
We retained an investment banking firm as a proxy and they went directly to Sony Corporate bypassing the local executives. We would have been able to raise the necessary capital, and had interviewed new and existing management ready for a turnover.

Alas, it was not meant to be as the terms offered by Sony Japan were unacceptable to us and to our investors. It is my understanding that other buyers had the same reaction and, in the end, Columbus Nova got a completely different deal that the one we were offered, but by then our investor group had moved on.

Make no mistake the company needed cuts badly, and we would have cut and cut deeply. Possibly as deep as Columbus Nova did but maybe we would have cut more senior management and less game developers instead. It was our intention to try to acquire the 38 Studios assets and made them available to players in EQN. Moreover we would have probably changed the server infrastructure allowing people to run their own servers. It would not have been a very canonical EverQuest but we would have done the best to service our customers with the limited budget of an independent studio who wanted to punch above its weight.

We really did try our best. And our best was not enough.

I’m still gathering my thoughts, but in general I just have a lot of questions. Basically, if I’m reading this right, Sony Japan sold SOE for less than they could have gotten, to a company that didn’t know anything about games. Only way that makes sense is if there is some sort of pre-existing relationship between the people doing the deal at Sony and those at Columbus Nova. Like the Sony Exec’s godson/favorite nepher/golfing buddy is the big cheese/VP/owner of Columbus Nova. Either that or part of the deal was not made public or was done under the table. Either is a likely possibility.

#storybricks, #daybreak, #everquest next

7 thoughts on “Storybricks Wanted to Buy Everquest

  1. I don’t see where either thing you mention is necessarily likely. The way that tale is written, the Storybricks offer, which would have been an awful leveraged buyout straight from the 80s, came at some time well before the Columbus Nova Prime offer got inked. Who knows what may have transpired within Sony during the time between the Storybricks offer and when they went with Columbus. But enough time elapsed that the backers for Storybricks had gone off the deal, so it was more than hours or days or even weeks. Columbus could have just been the group ready to deal when Sony finally got serious about dumping SOE. Timing can be everything.

    And while I’m no big fan of Columbus, all of this coming up as Storybricks is going out of business sounds pretty dubious. It feels a lot like the hurt pride of “I coulda been a contendah!” as much as anything. And throwing in that stuff about 38 Studios smacks of pipe dreams and castles in the sky.

    I’d need some third party backing these tales up before I gave them much credence.

    1. While I agree about taking this with a grain of salt, the email seems to indicate its about more than timing. If Sony was finally got serious about selling, why didn’t they contact the original investors (of whom the letter indicates there was more than one party) and take the original offers that netted them more money? Do we really believe that all of the suitors were gone and Sony had to unload to an unrelated investor? And if so, surely the investor wasn’t completely unrelated; something must have brought them to the table. *If* the story is accurate, Sony voluntarily lost potential profit, and my curiosity is: why?

      1. There are so many questions brought up by that letter that every time you try to hang an argument on an alleged “fact” it just leads to more questions. You are, for example, assuming that “got a completely different deal” means that Sony got less money. But that assumes facts not in evidence. For all I can tell, Sony might have gotten more money from Columbus, since the hangup mentioned in the letter was about “terms” which could mean any number of things. It could have been money, or it could have been a disagreement over what rights Sony might have wanted to retain over the PlayStation titles, or requirements that titles currently in progress be made available on the PlayStation 4 within a fixed period of time, or who gets to recognize revenue on the outstanding Station Cash balances when that Station Cash is spent.

      2. I’m not hanging an argument, I’m asking a question. And it doesn’t really matter what form the terms took. All that matters is that Storybricks perceived the deal they laid out for Sony to be better (ie, worth more to Sony) than the one Columbus Nova did.

        Perhaps their perception is skewed, perhaps this is so much hot air. Perhaps the facts/evidence are skewed. But I’m playing “what-if” here.

  2. Jidhari

    Any programmer worth his salt knows that it is an uphill battle trying to make heads or tails of someone else’s code and it is usually more efficient to start from scratch. The fact that they even entertained the idea of taking on 38 studios’ scraps, tells me that fate did them a favour. One less EA louse story will be posted after years in development hell and untold millions spent. Disaster avoided.

    1. I should clarify, there is no part of me that was rooting for Storybricks to make this move or that feels that this is something we as gamers should morn (unless Columbus turns out to be another EA or something).

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