According to the Chinese media, President of Sony Online Entertainment LLC, John Smedley, mentioned recently that PlanetSide 2 will be going the Free to Play route. PlanetSide 2 is SOE’s upcoming online massive combat title, costing over USD 5,000,000 to be developed and supporting over 2,000 players in the same map. The main additions compared to its predecessor will be the skill system and territorial control feature.
According to John, skills in PlanetSide 2 will take time to master. The lower level skills will take just minutes to train, but months if on a higher level. The skill levels can be trained (at a slower pace) even when players are offline, but players who subscribe will gain them at a faster rate. For territorial control, each area will provide players with different resources to obtain different materials, weapons etc. While PvP is the core content, there will be PvE elements added in the future, with all 3 opposing factions working together and fight against invading aliens.
While stopping short of confirming the business model (Free to Play or Freemium), the article said that going Free to Play does not mean PlanetSide 2 will be totally dependent on Cash Shop sales, with proposals similar to Diablo III’s auction house system touted (charge a fee for each transaction). John said that the era of Pay to Play is coming to an end, with Star Wars: The Old Republic possibly the last big-scale online title to adopt this model. Going Free to Play will also lower the barrier for all gamers.
As for the release date, an end of year or early 2012 massive scale beta test for the North American server is currently scheduled. As for the China server, published by The9, localization is happening right now. John also put down the Unreal 3 Engine, stating that PlanetSide 2’s engine, Forgelight, is much more superior and can be referred as “Unreal 5”. The article ended with John talking about the importance of making the game a more user-friendly one through optimizations.
Update: So, I was contacted by a representative with regards to the interview given by Mr John Smedley to the Chinese media, and here are some corrections to be made:
I wanted to follow up regarding the article you posted earlier today covering John Smedley’s recent interview with a Chinese website about PlanetSide 2. Unfortunately, he was either misquoted by the website or it was poorly translated because there were a number of errors in the quotes that were pulled from the interview. Smedley went ahead and clarified his statements and I have copied his responses to the article below:
1) There is some really bad translation going on here – while I have publicly mentioned the game will be some form of free to play before…the Blizzard style auction house isn\’t a part of that. I was asked what I thought of that move by Blizzard I said I thought it was a good idea and it would help with farmers. I also said we had done that years ago with Station Exchange. So no…. There is no RMT auction house (in fact we haven\’t ever even talked about an auction house for the game period). We aren\’t ready to announce specifics yet but expect something that will be very player friendly. I mentioned League of Legends as something I really liked.
2) I was asked about beta schedule and I said we were aiming for late this year or early next year but we don\’t know yet.
3) I did say that I believe SWTOR will be the last large scale MMO to use a sub model. The game looks great btw and I will be playing myself. Bioware is doing an awesome job.