Tag Archives: Planetside

With Vanguard Going Free to Play, PlanetSide Becomes the Last SOE Subscription Based MMO

In November of last year, when EverQuest II slated to go fully free to play, I asked the obvious question;  which of the remaining SOE subscription MMOs would also go free to play?

Back then, only four games remained subscription based.  And even then, rumblings seemed to indicate Vanguard might have a free to play role in the line up.  That was clearly the wave of the future at SOE.

The SOE Options in November 2011

With the announcement today that Vanguard is going to go free to play (FAQ here), there is only one subscription MMO left in the SOE lineup.  PlanetSide stands alone.

As of Today

What will happen to PlanetSide while SOE works on PlanetSide 2?

Will SOE keep it as a subscription game for now?  Will they make it free or free to play?  Or will it go away before its successor shows up?

There do not seem to be any good choices in that mix.

SOE – What Other Titles Will Go Free to Play?

With last week’s announcement that EverQuest II is going free to play on all servers, and DC Universe Online having just made the transition to free to play, Sony Online Entertainment feels like it has turned a corner.

The company has gone from being a subscription MMO company with a few free offerings to a free to play focused company with a few legacy subscription games hanging around.  The weight of games… and the absolute weight of most of their popular titles… has tilted towards free to play.

The SOE Options for New Players

Technically, the title line up will shortly be five free and five subscription, if you consider EverQuest II to be a single merged game now, and you count Star Wars Galaxies.  But new players cannot join SWG, and it will be going away on December 15th in any case.

And the lineup definitely looks biased towards newer, more popular games going free to play.

Okay, Pirates of the Burning Sea isn’t popular by any stretch.  But EverQuest II is arguably the flagship game for the company.

While the subscription only lineup looks pretty long in the tooth.

Those are some old titles in terms of video games, and the only one that still draws a crowd is EverQuest, the one time champion of the subscription MMO world.

So what happens to subscription titles at a company that appears to see free to play as the future?  Will any of the remainders join the free to play bunch?

EQOA, peaking at ~30K subscribers, has never been a big title.  It is only for PlayStation 2 and hasn’t seen any new content for almost five years.  It is being sustained as long as it remains profitable to run, but its days are numbered.  I think the era of benign neglect will continue until the subscription base dwindles to the point that SOE turns out the lights. (You can read more about EQOA over at Massively or, as Harbinger Zero suggested, check out Stoney’s EQOA Blog.)

PlanetSide, also something of a dormant title, down a single sparsely populated server.  PlanetSide will remain until PlanetSide 2 launches and that will be that.  PlanetSide 2 will, of course, have a free to play subscription model.

Vanguard is probably more popular than Pirates of the Burning Sea, which made the move to free to play, so it seems like it might have a chance for a move as well.  But PotBS is not actually an SOE title.  SOE only hosts and publishes the game.  Flying Lab Software is responsible for development and apparently are able to sustain themselves on its meager population.

Vanguard though, appears to be in a maintenance only mode, with no devs assigned to it.  A transition to free to play requires an investment of resources.  Previously SOE opted to add in LiveGamer, a system that allows players to buy and sell from each other with realm money; sanctioned RMT.  However, LiveGamer is going away, so perhaps the door is open to some change on free to play front. (Though LiveGamer seems to be doing okay without SOE.)

But somehow I doubt it.

There are only two groups of players that are going to be more prickly about adding in a cash shot with enough viable items to make money, and one of them is Vanguard players.  And for a game that is not generating enough revenue to get more than bug fixes slowly over time, the possibility of annoying the player base has to be viewed as a serious risk.  My guess is that SOE will just leave Vanguard on the subscription model and keep it around as long as enough people are willing to pay.

And then there is EverQuest.

Here is the one game on the list that has the population and the name recognition to making going free to play a viable option.

But EQ players are the second group of prickly players when it comes to cash shop items.

On the other hand, SOE has actually been working on the UI in EQ.  One of the features of the latest expansion, Veil of Alaris (which goes live today), is improved hot bars which, from the description, sound like they are going to try to make them work the way they do in most current MMOs.

That makes me wonder if SOE is planning some sort of free to play option for EQ in the next year or so.

What do you think?  Will EverQuest get a free to play option?  Will Vanguard?

And will it matter?

While the free to play option is out there, the subscriptions still exist if you want to play without some of the more onerous restrictions on a free account.  And with the new and attractively priced SOE All Access available if you play more than one SOE game, is free to play anything more than an unlimited trial at SOE?

Do you still have to subscribe to “really” be playing any of these games?

PlanetSide 2 News Coming Very Soon

Tipped off by a tweet from Smed, it seems the clock is counting down at the new PlanetSide 2 web site.

Time runs out soon…

Meanwhile, the Facebook page for the game shows the magic hour when the announcement can be expected.

Whatever the announcement is, I still say the game won’t be shipping as soon as some were saying. (Silly EuroGamer, I told you so.  Hell, SOE is even late on the announcement.)

Credulity Test – EuroGamer Edition

With DC Universe Online launching, EuroGamer seems to be trying to suck up to Sony in general and SOE in particular in the grand tradition of online gaming journalism.

I already quoted the gem from the first interview.

The second interview… well, calling it an interview stretches the term… it is more “Quotations from Chairman Smed”…  contains a look at what else might be coming out from SOE in the near future.  And while it galls me a bit that EG wants to play along so badly that they count FreeRealms on PS3 as a new title (wasn’t that supposed to ship concurrent with the Windows release originally?), for me the jaw dropper was this quote:

“And we haven’t announced a release date for it but you can expect it… We’re looking at late first-quarter, early second-quarter [2011].”

My first thought was “typo.”

Surely they meant 2012 at the earliest.

But, no, the title of the whole interview is “Expect PlanetSide Next Q1/Q2,” which I initially read as a date of “Next Q1/Q2” but which I realized really meant 2011… this year… since the title of the project is “PlanetSide Next.”

So somebody at EuroGamer thinks we’ll be playing PlanetSide Next by, say, the end of May.

Really?  They just took that statement and asked no questions?  Journalism at its finest.

This, for me, flies in the face of the marketing ramp time requirements to launch a new title. Not that I would be shouted down if I suggested that SOE isn’t the sharpest spoon in the drawer when it came to marketing.  But still, the SOE of the last five years has been more about announce and delay, hype and silence (think The Agency), and not about hitting very aggressive dates.

When do you think we’ll see PlanetSide Next?

Smed Speaks on DCUO and Planetside Next

John Smedley has a blog.

It doesn’t get much of a work out, and I wish he hadn’t chosen a free LiveJournal account, since it puts up video ads every so often, but he has one.

Today, after more than a year lying dormant, he saw fit to put something up about the DC Universe Online beta and Planetside Next.

Certainly DCUO is getting a lot of attention right now, but I am really interested to hear how they plan to redo Planetside.  This is all he had to say on that front:

In other news – early next year we will have announcements about Planetside Next followed by a beta. I can say this – it’s coming along awesome. I can also say that the first beta testers are going to be current Planetside subscribers. I’ve gotten a lot of email from current players offering to help test the game and we’re going to take them up on it.

Grist for the New Years prediction mill if nothing else.

It is odd… if you read his blog, he does seem to favor Planetside.

And it isn’t the first time he’s mentioned the next version of the game on his blog.

What does it mean?

August in Review

The Site

This month saw another big spike in traffic due to something pretty much unrelated to the site.

Cracked.com linked to a rant I wrote quite a while back about the mis-use of the term “microtransactions.”  They did a humor piece about FarmVille, and somehow my post seemed relevant.

Obligatory Traffic Graph

Also driving traffic this month were the search terms “Blood Elf Porn,” “Elf Porn,” and “Ancient Porn.”  All this for a post titled Fighting Blood Elf Porn.  Do you suppose it was nerd rage that brought them here?

Along with the big PLEX loss story, those were the big three traffic driving posts of the month.

Aside from that, I took yet another baby step into the 21st century.  I now have a Twitter account.  All it does is tweet when I put up a post… WordPress.com does that for me automatically… and it works most of the time.  It will list posts for both this site and EVE Online Pictures, my other site.

Otherwise, I have little to say in SMS sized bits.

So far I have two followers.  You know who you are.

One Year Ago

The Matrix Online (MxO for those in the know) was shut down by SOE last August.  Planetside is still around though!  For now.

Bruce Everiss was getting sued for libel by the makers of Envoy.  That was eventually worked though this past March.  Enovy, LLC dropped their suit, but not before causing Mr. Everiss much pain and hamstringing his desire to be as forthright in the future.

Somebody was granted a patent for something that sounded a lot like podcasting.  How did that ever turn out?

That Wii Bowling Ball made another appearance.  Still no know deaths attributed to it.

I was wondering what genre our post apocalyptic future really was.  People assume it is Science Fiction.  Is it?

On the Blizzard front, we learned that we were not going to get StarCraft II for Christmas.  I still don’t own a copy yet.

There was a lot of speculation before BlizzCon about the next WoW expansion.  I tried to draw parallels between 2004 and 2009.

I subscribed to the BlizzCon Pay-per-view event via DirecTV.  That was a lot of gaming coverage to watch.

Meanwhile in the instance group, we were finally almost all level 80.  It was time to screw around in some old raid instances.

I actually posted the results of that cheating poll I had set up.  I generally mean to post the results of these sorts of things, but somehow I usually don’t get around to it.

And, finally, I was on a re-reading binge last August while making Code Red floats.

New Linking Sites

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Most Viewed Posts in August

  1. RMT and Microtransactions Rant
  2. Fighting Blood Elf Porn
  3. The PLEX Story We’ve All Been Waiting For
  4. Pokemon Enigma Stone Download Event
  5. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  6. WoW Account Hacked… Officially No Longer News
  7. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  8. WoW Account Hacked – This Just Keeps Happening
  9. EverQuest Next and Lessons Learned
  10. The Factions of WoW Account Hacking
  11. Torchlight II – Look Out Diablo III
  12. EQII Extended – The Trial of Inconvenience
  13. I Do Not Like Raspberries

Search Terms of the Month

blood elf porn, elf porn, ancient porn
[These seem to spike late on Friday night.]

bloggoleechification
[Thanks Tobold]

blizzard account hacked and i dont play
[I have no account, and I must be hacked]

hack beter wow very good
[Very good indeed]

Spam Comments of the Month

Now let’s create, continuous innovation with Fashion game network:
[Because that is the innovation that will revive the economy!]

May i sex dating with you?
[Me sex date you long time]

EVE Online

I am in total slumber mode in EVE Online.  I have converted some of my ISK into PLEX and am just sitting in the station training long skills.  Still, I will have over 60 million skill points soon.

EverQuest II Extended

I said I was going to play this when it launched, but I forgot that in the post-Google world, the word “Beta” means you’ve shipped.  So I was waiting for it to go live, but SOE has been letting all and sundry in to play.  I hear the load on the Freeport server is pretty heavy, apparently with EQ2 vets.

Lord of the Rings Online

Turbine is a company that knows what Beta means.

The instance group… well, four of the group… have been seen regularly in Middle-earth.  The game has become my only MMO for the moment.  While the instance group is in the 20s, I have been pressing on ahead in hopes of catching a glimpse of Moria.

World of Warcraft

My daughter is in the Cataclysm beta and has been taking screen shots now and again… when I ask repeatedly.  My own WoW account… lapsed.  While I may leave it like that until Cataclysm ships, that will mean missing out on the last bottle, and the achievement, for Brew of the Month club.  Decisions, decisions.

Coming Up

LOTRO will be going Free to Play soon, and no doubt that will change the feel of the game some.  We’ll see if it is for the better or not.

Aside from LOTRO, I expect this coming month to be pretty light when it comes to posts.  Summer is over.  My daughter went back to school last week and, this week, I went back to work.  My wife now has the house to herself again during the day, much to her relief.

TTH Picks the Top Ten PvP MMOs

Lists, especially ranked lists, are always good for some attention.

In that vein, Ten Ton Hammer decided to stir the pot a bit by ranking what they consider to be the Top Ten PvP MMOs.

I’ll spoil the surprise and give you their list ranked top to bottom.  You’ll have to go read the article to get the justifications.

  1. Dark Age of Camelot
  2. Eve Online
  3. Darkfall
  4. Planetside
  5. Warhammer Online
  6. Aion
  7. Lineage 2
  8. Guild Wars
  9. Age of Conan
  10. Lord of the Rings Online

They used the phrase “out there” to describe their selections, by which I assume they mean they are measuring the PvP-ness you can get today from these games, as opposed to when they were at their peak.  So no Shadowbane.

That also might explain the lack of Ultima Online on the list.

But if you’re going to exclude UO for its current state of affairs, how do you justify keeping Planetside on the list?

2010 MMORPG Progdictionations

MMORPG predictions, now in its third year here at TAGN.

Having done the same thing for both 2008 and 2009 predictions, I thought I would change it up a bit and go for a series of short, sharp, and easily scored predictions for 2010.

Yes, I still have that cold I mentioned the other day, so I’m not feeling very creative at the moment.

Of course, other people are putting out their predictions for next year, so I am putting this sentence in as a place to link to them as their posts show up.

See!  Creativity, out the window!  On with the floor show!

Not Nine, Just Six

Polar Bear in a Blizzard

My quick predictions for Blizzard in 2010! (5 points each)

  • StarCraft II – Will ship second quarter 2010
  • Cataclysm – Will ship fourth quarter 2010
  • Cataclysm – Will beat WotLK’s 24 hour sales record (early 2012 prediction: whatever follows Cataclysm won’t do as well)
  • Diablo III – Will not ship in 2010
  • New MMO – An announcement at BlizzCon with the usual Blizzard mystery build-up

Every Station but PlayStation

Sony Online Entertainment predictions! (5 points each)

  • Planetside – Dead by December
  • Norrath – Official details about the next Norrath based MMORPG some time in 2010
  • Norrath – The next Norrath based MMORPG won’t be called EverQuest III
  • EverQuest II – All digital distribution after the February expansion
  • EverQuest – The next round of server consolidation will happen, and it will be a good thing
  • The Agency – Won’t ship in 2010
  • PlayStation 3 – SOE still won’t have a PS3 MMO title by the end of 2010

Electronic Arts and Science

What will EA do? (5 Points each)

  • SWTOR – Not in 2010, no no no.
  • WAR – Won’t die in 2010, but won’t magically spring back to life either.  It will just trudge on with enough resources to keep it going and improve it slightly, but not enough to change anything dramatically.

Turning the Turbine

(5 points each)

  • LOTRO – Next expansion, announced in 2010, will be the Riders of Rohan!
  • LOTRO – Riders of Rohan will feature real mounted combat
  • DDO – Continued success under the free to play banner with a push into some overland content
  • New – We’ll hear about Turbine’s next project in 2010.

Glory to the CCCP!

(5 points each)

  • Station ambulation – Still just a myth in 2010
  • Dust 514 – Not for 2010
  • EVE – Two Content Releases, don’t we always get two a year?
  • EVE – Tech III ships will finally become common enough that you might actually see one now and again.

Leading by Torchlight

(5 points each)

  • An inexpensive expansion will be released for Torchlight to keep funding going for Runic’s MMO
  • Runic will give us some concrete details about said MMO
  • That MMO won’t ship in 2010
  • But said details will make some pundit say, “Wow, that’s what Dungeon Runners should have done.”

NCSofties

(5 points each)

  • Aion – Going to seem like a replay of Lineage II, popular in Asia, less so in the west.  Still, it will have enough customers to keep going.  Given how readily NCSoft shuts things down, that will be saying something.
  • GuildWars 2 – Not for 2010
  • PlayStation 3 – NCSoft still won’t have a PS3 MMO title by the end of 2010

Other Titles

(5 points each)

  • Darkfall – Will continue walking the tightrope between hardcore PvP focus and giving players something to do when they aren’t actively engaged in battle.  Slow growth with at most a single server added to the game for 2010.
  • Star Trek Online – Won’t disappoint Trek fans, but we’re all co-dependent on the franchise after years of reckless treatment by the studio.  We’ll all still be there after the first 30 days playing with our pre-order bonus items.  The rest of you people though…
  • Hero’s Journey – It was best of show at E3 in 2005, but it will still be a no-show in 2010.

MMO Industry

The following people will have new companies and new projects announced in 2010 (2 point each):

  • Mark Jacobs
  • Richard Garriott
  • Bill Roper
  • Brian Green
  • Scott Hartsman

One of the following companies will announce their first/next project, and it won’t be an MMO (5 points):

  • Aventurine
  • Carbine Studios
  • Red5 Studios
  • Simutronics
  • Turbine

One of the following people will move to Canada (5 points):

  • Scott Jennings
  • Mark Jacobs
  • Brian Green
  • Scott Hartsman
  • Richard Bartle
  • Alan Crosby
  • David Reid

Spurious Logic

Random neurons firing for the following guesses.

Most subscription MMOs that sell vanity items like pets or appearance gear will sell custom mounts by the end of 2010.  WoW and EQ2 will be the benchmark. (5 points)

“Yahtzee” Croshaw will review exactly ONE muh-more-puh-gah on Zero Punctuation during 2010, and it will be Star Trek Online.  He won’t like it (duh) but the Trekkie humor will be too much for him to resist doing a review. (5 points)

We will find out that the following people will be appearing or doing voice work in the Warcraft movie (IMDB  shows no actors as of this date – 1 point each):

  • Jack Black
  • William Shatner
  • Keanu Reeves
  • Ben Stein
  • James Earl Jones
  • John Ratzenberger
  • Bruce Campbell
  • Sarah Silverman
  • David Spade
  • Lucy Lawless

Total Points

If I count correctly, that should be 200 points total at stake.  I’m a little woozy at the moment, so I wouldn’t put money on it, but we’ll call it 200 for now.

If history is an accurate predictor of success I will probably get 40-60 points total.

Check back in December 2010 to see how I did.

In the mean time, what do you think will happen in 2010?

Scoring My 2009 MMORPG Progdictionations

The time has come to account for my January 1st predictions.

The real problem with me and predictions is that I set out to make a series of outrageous and humorous stabs at the future, but part way into it I get all reasonable and conservative and start making predictions that sound likely… or reasonable.

Not that I am any more accurate when I get conservative and reasonable.

On January 1st I made 15 predictions for the MMORPG market for 2009.  Below are the results.  I am going to assign each prediction a possible score of 10 points, with partial credit available.  How many points out of 150 will I get?

I am not going to paste in all the original predictions as it would make the post very long, plus I have a cold which has not put me in the mood to perform any more work that I absolutely have to.  But they are all right here if you want to see them in their original glory.

1 – Private Citizen British

This one was fulfilled before I managed to post it.  He wants to get back into fantasy gaming, but nothing came of it in 2009.  He did not, however, use the word “vision.”  7 out of 10 points.

2 – Bartle’s Test

Dr. Bartle was on the money with this one by extolling the virtues of Stranglethorn Vale from the aspect of zone design.  As expected, more than a few disagreed on that, STV being one of the more complained about zones in the game.  Dr. Bartle stood his ground however; he meant what he said and he said what he meant.  Not a huge controversy, but enough for my needs.  8 out of 10 points.

3 – Age of Anarchy

Funcom did not, as I predicted, merge Anarchy Online and Age of Conan into a single game with two different front end clients.  More is the pity, since Age of Conan seems to need some sort of boost these days.  0 out of 10 points.

4 – EverQuesting

The 10 Year Anniversary of EverQuest was not as big of a deal as I thought it would be.  There was no return of the Living Legacy promotion, the expansion was not as sweeping as I thought it would be, it was called “Underfoot,” and did not include any of the features I speculated about.  And it was only available as a digital download.

On the other hand, one thing I did suggest was:

and at least one method of advancing your character while off-line.  Not experience, nor AAs, but maybe skills or some other new character attribute.  It will be very slow, but will only work while you are subscribed, showing that SOE is trying to tap some of that EVE Online training magic to keep subscriptions going.

That pretty much sounds like research assistants in EverQuest II.  I am going to give myself 2 points out of 10 on that alone.

5 – Call Your Agency

Of the three games Sony has been talking about, only Free Realms saw the light of day in 2009, which was one more than I thought would.  On the other hand, there is still no PS3 version of Free Realms.  So I am going to give myself partial credit on Free Realms, since I said that PS3 development would be holding up the launch and they decided to go without it.

We have not heard, officially or in rumors, that PS3 is what is holding up The Agency or DC Universe Online, so only partial credit there as well.  3 out of 10.

6 – Elves of the Burning Sea

Flying Lab Software did not attempt to boost their subscription rate by re-skinning Pirates of the Burning Sea with fantasy creatures, so 0 out of 10 points.  I should not let my own LEGO fantasies influence my predictions.

7 – LEGO Dalaran

Nobody built Dalaran out of LEGO bricks… yet, 0 out of 10 points.

8 – Station Cash Balance of Payments

I predicted that any game that did not get a Station Cash store was pretty much marked for closure.  The Matrix Online was the first to go.  Planetside is down to one server and Star Wars Galaxies isn’t making any headlines of late.  I am going to give myself 5 out of 10 on that one because I think Planetside will be gone when The Agency shows up.  And as for SWG…

9 – Star Wars Galaxies to Take A Bio

I predicted that we would find out this year that Lucas was only going to sanction one Star Wars themed MMORPG and that SWG was going to lose out of BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I still think this is going to happen, so maybe I’ll roll it into the 2010 predictions.  But for 2009, 0 out of 10.

10 – Dawn of Darkfall

Darkfall did ship, but did not ship with the full list of promised features intact.  They suffered through launch issues like most MMOs, with things like skill exploits being closed off as time went along.  And they do appear to be walking the tightrope between PvP and other activities well for the time being.  You can argue amongst yourselves as to whether it is the second coming of Ultima Online or EVE Online in plate armor, but I’m taking 8 out of 10 points.

11 – Hero’s Slumber

Darkfall’s launch handed the MMORPG vaporware crown to Hero’s Journey which did not, as I predicted, ship in 2009.  That fact, however, was not the source of that much snarkiness that I could see, so 8 out of 10 points.

12 – Blizzard is Smarter Than You

I predict for Blizzard in 2009:

  • WoW Content patches – check
  • No WoW expansion – check
  • StarCraft II shipping – nope
  • StarCraft II and Diablo III news that will lead to whining – check
  • Info about their next MMO – nope

6 out of 10 points.

13 – The New Guys

Red 5 Studios, Carbine Studios, and 38 Studios provided practically no details about what they are working on.

On the other hand, I also said that nothing they announced would set the MMORPG market on fire.  Certainly saying little or nothing qualifies.  A point for that.

And MetaPlace looks unlikely to become a talent incubator for the next generation at this point.

1 out of 10 points.

14 – Heroes and Champions

This was a silly and complex set of predictions, all built in parody of NCSoft West President David Reid saying last year that Tabula Rasa was here to stay shortly before they announced it was being shut down.

Key predictions –

  • City of Heroes will shut down after David Reid announces things are going well – nope
  • Champions Online will launch in the Fall of 2009 – check (okay, Sept. 1 isn’t quite fall, but close)
  • David Reid will lose his job at NCSoft – check

6 out of 10 points.

15 – Tobolderized

No Toboldipedia or Toboldwiki created this year.  I blame Tobold’s summer break.

0 out of 10 points.

Results

The final count gives me 46 points out of 150, or 30.67% which, while abysmal, still beats last year’s 22%.

I think the Tobold predictions are dragging me down.  I may have to jettison him for 2010… or come up with something more plausible.

Now I just have to come up with some predictions for 2010!  Though right now, what I really want to predict is an over-the-counter decongestant that really works.  Stupid cold.

The 10 Year Anniversary of EverQuest was not as big of a deal as I thought it would be.  There was no return of the Living Legacy promotion, the expansion was not as sweeping as I thought it would be, it was called “Seeds of Destruction,” and did not include any of t

he features I speculated about.

On the other hand, one thing I did suggest was:

and at least one method of advancing your character while off-line.  Not experience, nor AAs, but maybe skills or some other new character attribute.  It will be very slow, but will only work while you are subscribed, showing that SOE is trying to tap some of that EVE Online training magic to keep subscriptions going.

That pretty much sounds like research assistants in EverQuest II.  I am going to give myself 3 points out of 10 on that alone.