Brad McQuaid, CEO of Vanguard developer Sigil Games, made a lengthy forum post this weekend, appearing to confirm recent rumors that publisher Sony Online Entertainment is looking into various actions regarding the future of Sigil and its recently released MMO, including a potential acquisition of Sigil by SOE. "SOE is in discussions with Sigil regarding the future of Vanguard and Sigil Games in Carlsbad," wrote McQuaid (pictured left), relaying SOE's official position. "What does that mean? It means that right now Vanguard is doing decently but not as well as we hoped," he added. Potential courses of action theorized by McQuaid include acquisition, changes in management, or workforce adjustments at Sigil.
Shacknews confirmed with Sony Online Entertainment that discussions between the two companies are indeed in the works, and that the forum post in question was written by McQuaid.
Vanguard: Saga of Heroes launched in late January of this year. Executive producer McQuaid is well known as one of the original designers of Verant Interactive's EverQuest, on which he became executive producer. In 2002, McQuaid founded Sigil Games. Vanguard was originally announced as being published by Microsoft; last year, SOE took over all publishing duties on the game.
"Both companies agree that we need more of SOE's involvement if Vanguard is going to continue to get the support it needs to both continue to be worked on and improved and debugged and optimized," said McQuaid of the MMO. He went on to list a variety of challenges for the game, including its demanding system requirements, consumers overestimating its necessary time commitment, and difficulties in distinguishing itself to consumers from primary competitor World of Warcraft as well as the EverQuest series, on which many Vanguard team members have worked.
McQuaid advocates a significant overhaul of Vanguard to rejuvenate its user experience and its image in the MMO market. "What the game needs is a re-launch of sorts, including targeted marketing campaigns, an all-around successful move by gamers to the next generation of hardware, continued good word of mouth 'viral' marketing by those who are already playing, enjoying, and re-subscribing," he explained. "And all of this could and should ramp up by the end of the year, all the while the Vanguard team is putting in more content." Such a relaunch would likely occur by the end of 2007 with the game's first expansion releasing in the first quarter of 2008, he projected. "I think it's safe to say that both Sigil and SOE see the potential of a mind blowing game by the end of the year," said McQuaid. Features pegged for the first expansion include RTS-style city construction, naval combat, and jousting.
Speaking to Shacknews on the matter, an SOE representative stated, "Everyone's primary concern is what's best for Vanguard and its community. Specifics can not be discussed at this time, however I can tell you that the talks are positive." SOE declined to go into further detail on the two companies' current plan of action.