Sigil, Vanguard Assets Acquired by SOE (Updated)

Update 2: Sony Online Entertainment has now officially confirmed the acquisition statement made by SOE president John Smedley. "With an unparalleled team and exceptional product, Sigil has been a creative force in the online games space," said Smedley in the announcement. "We look forward to continuing the vision for Vanguard and to continue to deliver some groundbreaking game play."

Update: Posting by his online handle "Smed," Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley has stated that the assets of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes and its developer Sigil Games Online have been acquired by SOE. Sigil's offices will apparently remain in Carlsbad, California, and will be managed by Sigil's Dave Gilbertson. Sigil co-founder Brad McQuaid will be employed as a consultant by SOE as Vanguard's creative advisor. In addition, some 50 employees of the formerly independent Sigil will be given jobs with SOE on Vanguard.

Smedley explained that SOE plans to continue maintaining and evolving Vanguard, though he was sure to note that players should not expect any fundamental changes along the lines of those made to Star Wars Galaxies. "We've learned a thing or two with our experiences with [Star Wars Galaxies' New Game Enhancement] and don't plan on repeating mistakes from the past and not listening to the players," he promised.

As an example of a more successful process of improvement, Smedley pointed to the company's EverQuest II. "This team is approx. the same size as the EQ2 team and I feel like that team has done an amazing job improving EQ2 since it's [sic] launch," he wrote. "We intend to do the same thing for Vanguard and it is our hope that the players feel like we're doing right by them."

In addition to improvements to the game itself, SOE plans on opening up official Vanguard forums to greater facilitate interaction between fans and developers.

No concrete gameplay-related plans were detailed in today's announcement.

Original story: Following confirmed reports that Sony Online Entertainment and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes developer Sigil Games Online have been in talks over the future of Vanguard and the California-based studio, online sources including gaming blog F13.net are now claiming that more drastic action has recently been taken.

According to this week's claims, an unspecified number of Sigil employees were fired at the company's offices, and many were offered new positions within SOE San Diego, which currently maintains EverQuest and EverQuest II. Sigil is an independent developer, suggesting that SOE was not the direct cause of the alleged firings. It is possible, however, that SOE absorbed Vanguard into internal development, leaving Sigil unable to continue at full staff.

When contacted by Shacknews regarding the matter, a Sony Online Entertainment represented declined to comment directly on the situation but stated, "There will be an announcement later today."