That seems to be the conclusion reached by industry analyst Michael Pachter, who’s quoted as saying
“Unfortunately, free-to-play is growing most rapidly on phones and tablets, and SOE wasn’t there because those aren’t really core Sony products. SOE didn’t support any of Sony’s consumer electronics businesses, so it was easy to sell.”
That quote, as well as additional analysis, can be found in an article for Fortune.com by veteran gaming writer John Gaudiosi. In short, it suggests that, while F2P is taking over the gaming industry, SOE/Daybreak’s brand of F2P didn’t jive with Sony’s plans, so the parent company sold it off.
I originally typed “Sony’s long-term plans,” but let’s be honest: Much of the F2P mobile business revolves around short-term gain and minimizing churn, not the kind of long-term commitment that MMO players have come to expect. If this is the case, then the sale of SOE sounds even better, if it’s freeing Smedley and company from a parent that might have been pressuring them to make their games “more like mobile” — i.e., maximizing short-term profits, usually through aggressive cash shop practices.
Now, there’s no guarantee that life with Columbus Nova will be any better, but I’d wager that John Smedley at least did his homework, and had several meetings with CN’s bosses, to determine just what their vision was for his company. And that future likely includes something that doesn’t resemble the mobile gaming market.