Sony Online Entertainment have announced that the running of many of their games is transferring to German publisher ProSiebenStat.1 Games Group in Europe. Games affected include EverQuest II, DC Universe Online, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, Free Realms, and this year's Planetside 2.
While SOE will continue to manage the European servers for their games, European players will no longer be able to play with friends in the US. The two providers will use separate account systems and virtual currencies, effectively splitting each game in two.
Existing European players will be asked to create an account with the new provider, and SOE will be offering a way to transfer characters and progress as well as any virtual currency in their possession. European EverQuest II players, meanwhile, will be able to use their SOE accounts as normal after the handover is complete. All new European players will go through ProSieben, however, meaning that Planetside 2 will be region locked.
SOE's FAQ on the subject says that "generally speaking, prices for game content, in-game items and services will remain similar." We've contacted SOE for comment on what this means in practical terms, and whether European players should expect a price hike. We've also asked what measures are being taken to ensure that patches and updates are localised quickly. We'll let you know what SOE have to say.