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John Smedley steps down as CEO of Daybreak, will remain with the company

Earlier this year, we saw Sony Online Entertainment go indie in a sense after being sold to private equity group Columbus Nova and changing its name to Daybreak Game Company. The studio came out swinging, but now it will have to continue under new leadership.

John Smedley will be stepping down as president and CEO of Daybreak Game Company, VentureBeat reported yesterday. The cause for Smedley’s decision is currently unknown, though it seems that, following a hiatus, he does plan on returning to the company, albeit in a different position.

“I can confirm that John Smedley will be taking some time off from the company for the near-term and transitioning to a different role to be determined,” a Daybreak representative told VentureBeat. “Upon finalization of his plans, further communication will be provided.”

Related: EverQuest on an Xbox? That might happen, with Sony’s online shop going indie

This comes after Smedley had publicly shared his thoughts on the recent sentencing of a member of the hacking group Lizard Squad. Though Julius “zeekill” Kivimaki was convicted of over 50,000 separate charges computer-related crime, he didn’t receive any jail time.

Smedley said that this particular member of Lizard Squad had brought down a flight he was on by claiming there were explosives on board. “I’ve heard the entire recording where he convinced an airline customer service agent there was a bomb on the plane,” Smedley wrote on Reddit.

“He’s been involved for years in every kind of terrible thing you can imagine including Carding, hacking, swatting people all over the world,” Smedley continued. “He’s also participated in a major way in DDOS attacks that caused a lot of grief for gamers and a lot of economic damage to the companies that make and run games.”

Related: Lizard Squad member charged with 50,000 crimes, yet dodges jail

Smedley said on Twitter that he was “coming for” Kivimaki, and while this garnered him respect from fans, it hurt Daybreak. Shortly after the tweet, multiple Daybreak games including H1Z1 and Planetside 2 were hit by distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, taking them offline.

While it hasn’t been confirmed that Smedley’s time off has anything to do with this harassment, or his public comments concerning Kivimaki, it would be easy to understand if that was indeed part of his decision. Chief operating officer Russell Shanks will take over Smedley’s role for Daybreak Game Company, though it’s currently unclear is this is a temporary measure.