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.
I don’t know, this all seems like a bit of a storm in a teacup to me. As usual, the Massively:OP coverage was hysterical but that’s the prerogative of websites that rely on page views to pay the rent.
It also seemed like barely any kind of news story at all, although these days it seems *everything* is a major news story, which is a function of the 24 hour news cycle, I guess. Even so, “video game doesn’t launch on time – postponed until later” has to be the news equivalent of “bear seen in woods, following course of nature”. How many online games ever hit their stated launch dates?
Whichever combination of the reasons you examined happen to be in play, postponing launch seemed to me like an eminently sensible decision. If it’s for commercial reasons then surely we should all be praising their business acumen in not throwing themselves under the steamroller of vastly stronger competition for once. If it’s because the beta has revealed that the game isn’t actually much fun or doesn’t work properly then, again, shouldn’t we be complimenting DBG on their good sense in recognizing and acknowledging the problems?
I get the feeling that some people (not you) would much prefer to see game companies bullheadedly persist in self-damaging behavior jsut so they can get a vicarious thrill out of watching them fail. When they make sensible commercial decisions like this or the canning of EQNext people get annoyed because they didn’t get their fill of schadenfreude.
As for Battle Royales, the market for them and their future, the huge difference between this bandwagon and MOBAs is that there have already been several very successful BRs whereas I’m not sure there were ever any comparably successful MOBAs other than DotA and LoL. Whether there will be a better window of opportunity in the Summer is another matter but since, as you point out, the investment in developing PS2:A can’t have been all that great I think it’s unlikley to sink the ship.
It’s interesting to note that Intrepid, developers of Ashes of Creation, also made a lot of noise about launching their Battle Royale in January/February and now they’ve pulled it from the schedule. Moreover, they’re now saying that what they learned from the betas has made them realize they may need to scrap the whole combat systema nd start over and now some people are beginning to murmur about the future of Ashes itself being in doubt. Maybe there are truths that get revealed in the merciless focus of Battle Royale gameplay that tell games developers things about their design skills that they didn’t want to know…
I’d be curious to see the increase in stock price in adult diapers.
Even Epic has got to be wondering what the heck happened – 25m players didn’t suddenly appear from no where.
@Bhagpuss – Well, you know I’ve take a vow to cover all things Daybreak. At least that seems to be the case. (Though I don’t mention DCUO or PlanetSide 2 very often.) I even posted on the EverQuest forums this past weekend… twice. That is practically unheard of from me.
I do think there were actually a couple of decent news tidbits lurking in that announcement.
The first was the whole PlayStation 4 aspect of it. I actually noted the lack of a PS4 version back with the initial announcement. So that question got answered. It seemed like a gimme since PlanetSide 2 and H1Z1 both made it to PlayStation. Despite whatever hysteria was in the copy, the fact that it was headed to PlayStation 4 seemed to be the focus of some headlines. Even I did that.
Then the second was the Steam refunds. Refunding all pre-orders is pretty much unprecedented. We’re speaking of a company that sold early access/pre-orders for H1Z1 and then launched it as free to play. That is not a decision they took lightly I am sure. That is the bit that sold me on posting about this. I mean, I would have anyway, but it might have been a 200 word Saturday post. But that aspect was something to raise speculation, so I chewed on it a bit and left it for today.
As for whether or not it is the right decision, we shall see. Daybreak is small enough that they are right to worry about being trampled over… roll the stock footage of the EQII launch and the coming of WoW. On the other hand, you have to go some time, and there is always going to be another big release from somebody to contend with.
Are BR players even more “content locust” style than MMORPG players? I doubt there’s an easy way to answer that, but the general likelihood of Fortnite, PUGB or now Apex players giving other competitor BR games a try is going to matter to Daybreak. I’d have said new games had no chance but then along came Apex Legends. I can’t see most MMORPG players being that interested, but then maybe that’s a good thing. I’d imagine Daybreak needs to attract new audiences that won’t cannibalize the existing cash cows. I had to shudder at the Turbine reference, here’s hoping that experience isn’t repeated…
I hope they get there act together on this as a stable company is what we want for EQ&EQ2 (+ any EQ3 in Development). Their not CCP but for me they only have one brand that I care for them to properly maintain….albeit I’m sure the DCUO players and the Planetside 2 crowd would disagree as to that focus. My fear on this however is the same; financial instability by pushing out what they think is viable yet is garbage that sinks to the bottom hurts our future prospects.