Sony Online Entertainment confirmed to Gawker video games blog Kotaku this morning that John Blakely, SOE’s Vice President of Development, had left the company to join Zynga. Blakely is now General Manager at Zynga Austin, according to an update on his LinkedIn profile.
Blakely was at SOE for nearly a decade, championing development on massively multiplayer online games like EverQuest II and the recently-released DC Universe Online. Before that, he held management positions at other video game development studios and worked in an engineering co-op at NASA. Zynga’s Austin studio was formed in June 2010 with the acquisition of Challenge Games.
SOE has struggled with the social games space, not only losing executives to social game developers, but also failing to launch social games with long term growth potential. The publisher’s newest game, Catch A Killer, launched in December and today has just 22,000 monthly active users and 1,000 daily active users. SOE’s oldest Facebook game, PoxNora, has just 3,000 MAU and 162 DAU as of today. It’s unclear how the publisher could relaunch a social games strategy at this point.
Zynga did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.