The launch date for PlanetSide Arena keeps moving further away, and at an accelerating rate.
The game, aimed to be a combination of Battle Royale and classic shooter scenarios, was announced back in back in December with a January 29th launch target. I mean, it was just PlanetSide 2 recycled into an arena game. It isn’t as though Daybreak hadn’t already built an arena shooter in H1Z1 already… and H1Z1 was built off of PlanetSide 2. Seemed like a reasonable target or a low bar, depending on how you looked at it.
Then, just days before the promised launch, Daybreak came out and said it wouldn’t go live until March 26th, though if you had pre-ordered on Steam… because of course there was a pre-order offer… you would be invited to the Founder’s Season on February 20th.
Then, five days before that Founder’s Season, Daybreak has announced that the whole thing is being pushed out until Summer. At least that was the correct usage of the Friday afternoon press release. But here I am on Monday morning dredging it all up again.
The ostensible reasons given were related to feedback received during the closed beta as well as a desire to launch the game on across both the PC and PlayStation 4 platforms simultaneously. We’ll see if a cross-platform launch includes cross-platform play, something Sony says it wants but acts like it is keen to avoid.
Maybe the reasons behind the push for a summer date even true. But there are some other factors in the wind here.
One might be the recent launch of EA’s free to play entry into the Battle Royale arena, Apex Legends. The title launched at the beginning of the month on Windows, PlayStation 4, and XBox One and is reported to have had more than 25 million downloads and 2 million players going at it concurrently. Launching into the teeth of that with a pay to play title might be a big ask.
And then there is the refunds for those who pre-ordered. Per the announcement:
In light of our revised launch plan, we are refunding all Planetside Arena pre-orders.
My guess is that while Fortnite alone didn’t scare them off the selling the box, the emergence of Apex Legends might have. I expect, at a minimum, that this will mean PlanetSide Arena will be moving to a free to play model while Daybreak watches the market and starts building up a cosmetics cash shop. They’re going to need to work hard on that, because I’ve never thought PlanetSide 2 was a pretty game.
Meanwhile, the pessimist in me thinks that this might be their Infinite Cisis, Turbine’s attempt to get in on the MOBA market that was too little and too late and which pretty much broke the company. (We got some dirty laundry aired after that.)
Not that Daybreak is down to just two aging fantasy MMORPGs the way Turbine was at that point. No, Daybreak has two aging fantasy MMORPGs, an aging superhero MMORPG, an aging MMOFPS, and that Battle Royale game, though that last seems to be part of NantWorks at this point. Also unlike Turbine, they don’t have a big company like Warner backing them.
We’ll see when the next bit of news about this hits I suppose.