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Kevin Hitt and Ellie Thibeau

H1Z1 and Daybreak Game Company are in their own fight for survival. The Russian owned Renova Group and it’s subsidiary, Columbus Nova, have been hit by sanctions imposed by the United States government for “destabilizing activities” reportedly related to interference in the 2016 U.S elections.

April 6th saw the U.S. Department of the Treasury freeze the assets of several Russian oligarchs and their companies including, Columbus Nova, who acquired the online gaming division of Sony Online Entertainment in 2015. SOE which was then renamed Daybreak Game Company, publishers of H1Z1 is feeling the heat from the outside world in regards to who is the actual owner of the company. In a carefully worded response issued to MassivelyOP, Daybreak Games denied any such transaction stating that “Daybreak Game Company has no affiliation with Columbus Nova. Jason Epstein, former member of Columbus Nova, is and has always been primary owner and executive chairman of Daybreak Games Company (formerly Sony Online Entertainment) which he acquired from Sony in February of 2015.”

And while Columbus Nova appears to longer have a stake in the ownership group of the Daybreak Game Company, the response flies in the face of statements made in a press release published on February 2, 2015 by the Daybreak Game Company which reads, “Columbus Nova, an investment management firm based in New York, announced today that it has completed its acquisition of Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE), a recognized worldwide leader in massively multiplayer online (MMO) games and emergent gameplay.”

Additionally, then CEO of Sony Online Entertainment, John Smedley said this via an announcement via Reddit:

Dear Players, Partners and Friends,

Today, we are pleased to announce that we have been acquired by Columbus Nova, an investment management firm well-known for its success with its existing portfolio of technology, media and entertainment focused companies. This means that effective immediately SOE will operate as an independent game development studio where we will continue to focus on creating exceptional online games for players around the world, and now as a multi-platform gaming company. Yes, that means PlayStation and Xbox, mobile and more!

However, in documents acquired by VPESports regarding Daybreak Game Company LLC’s latest filing in California dated Sept. 19, 2016, Jason Espstein was listed as the manager or member of the LLC with an address listed as 900 Third Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, 10022. When a directory search of the address was done, a familiar name reappeared–Columbus Nova. A filing in California in December 2017 was a statement of no change.

In fact, Epstein is still listed as the Managing Partner of Columbus Nova on numerous web sites including Watsco, Bloomberg, Columbus Nova, and many others.

As it stands the Daybreak Game Company currently appears to be owned in a 90/10 partnership between Inception Acquisition LLC and Sony Interactive Entertainment. And once again if you look at the documents uncovered by VPEsports that same address appears.

The latest fallout includes the resignation of Chief Publishing Officer Laura Naviaux and a layoff of allegedly half the Daybreak Game Company’s workforce due to what is being described as a lack of funding. Whether or not this lack of funding is directly related to the sanctions leveled against Renova or Columbus Nova has yet to be determined.

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