Daybreak Game Company President Resigns After Being Targeted by Hacker Group

John Smedley, president and CEO of Daybreak Game Company (formerly known as Sony Online Entertainment), is resigning after a year of being targeted by hacker group Lizard Squad.

Lizared Squad claimed responsibility for the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network during the holidays last year. This assault shut down the Xbox Live servers for almost all of Christmas Day and impacted PlayStation Network for five days. Lizard Squad also claimed responsibility for bomb threats against American Airlines flight 362 in August 2014, on which Smedley was a passenger, grounding the plane.

Lizard Squad member Julius Kivimaki was convicted this year of over 50,000 instances of fraud, data breaches, and other Internet crimes, but did not go to jail, instead receiving a two-year sentence held in abeyance; he will receive the sentence if he commits another crime.

Smedley, after being directly targeted by the group, was understandably unhappy about Kivimaki escaping jail time:

Following Smedley’s response to Kivimaki’s sentencing, Lizard Squad launched a DDoS attack against Daybreak games Planetside 2 and H1Z1.

Smedley helped launch EverQuest – a game credited as popularizing massively multiplayer online (MMO) games – and worked with Sony Online Entertainment to publish Star Wars: Galaxies, The Matrix Online, and EverQuest II. More recently, Sony Online Entertainment, which became Daybreak, published comic book-based MMO DC Universe Online and first-person shooter MMO PlanetSide 2, and is planning to release EverQuest III.

A Daybreak spokesperson said, “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.”

The developer’s chief operating officer, Russell Shanks, will become the new president.

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