UPDATE: Columbus Nova has released a statement that also distances itself from Daybreak, stressing that the acquisition was made by Jason Epstein alone.
The statement follows Harmonix disassociating itself with the investment firm, and reads:
“We want to confirm recent media reports that Columbus Nova has never had any ownership interest in Daybreak. Our former partner Jason Epstein told us in 2015 that he was purchasing Daybreak as a personal investment and Columbus Nova declined to participate in that purchase. We are aware of previous errors stating that Columbus Nova at some point had an ownership interest in Daybreak and regret not asking to correct the record sooner. The reality is that until now no one cared or asked so we just didn't think about it."
ORIGINAL STORY (26/04/2018): Three years ago, Sony Online Entertainment announced that it was acquired by investment firm Columbus Nova and changed its name to Daybreak Game Company. Today it's claiming that never happened.
On the company's official website, Daybreak has released the following statement:
There has been some confusion concerning Daybreak's ownership and rumors about the state of the company that have circulated from a few online game websites, and we want to set the record straight. We assure you that these rumors are entirely false and that there's no impact on our business or games in any way whatsoever.
From the get-go, Daybreak has been primarily owned by Jason Epstein, a longtime investor who also has investments in a variety of media properties. Jason acquired Daybreak (formerly SOE) in February 2015 and has been the executive chairman and majority owner of the company since that time.
We're well aware of prior statements from Daybreak indicating our company was acquired by Columbus Nova. We have since clarified that the company was acquired by Jason Epstein when he was a partner at Columbus Nova, which he left in 2017. We've also taken steps to clarify those facts on our website and on third-party internet sites to ensure that all of the information currently made available is consistent and accurate.
We apologize for the previous miscommunication and hope that this clears up any confusion. As always, we greatly appreciate your continued support for our games, and we'll continue to work hard to bring the best experiences to you.
As reported by MMO site MassivelyOverpowered, this bizarre story appears to have its roots in growing tensions between the United States and Russia.
Earlier this month, the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Department of State froze all the assets of a number of Russian oligarchs and their companies under US jurisdiction, and prohibited Americans from dealing with them. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin said the move was in response to a number of Russian activities, from occupying Crimea to arming Syria's ruling regime to meddling in Western democracies and "malicious cyber activities." One of the Russian companies named was Renova Group, which counts Columbus Nova among its subsidiaries.
Daybreak's Chief Publishing Officer and former senior vice president Laura Naviaux Sturr today tweeted that she has left the company, and she's apparently not alone. MMORPG.com has confirmed with the company that it made a round of layoffs today.
"Daybreak confirms we are realigning our workforce to better position our company for the future," the company said. "Because of this, we have had to make an extremely difficult decision to part ways with some of our employees across various disciplines at the studio. We are doing everything we can to take care of each affected individual by providing them appropriate transition assistance.
"Daybreak remains focused on publishing and developing large-scale online games and will continue to service our existing and long-standing games and franchises."