Saving Their PlanetSide


Via this Blue’s News entry today (Link) comes an interesting quasi-announcement: Sony Online Entertainment is changing their massive multiplayer online game PlanetSide from a purely subscription-based offering (US$12.99/month) to a mixed free/paid service. Well… kind of. The free account has a one-year time limit.

This doesn’t really come as a surprise since Sony has already announced some important changes suggesting how they intend to operate their online gaming business in the future. The first announcement that really received attention was their policy shift regarding the sale of virtual goods and their subsequent establishment of the Station Exchange marketplace (see related posts – Link 1 and Link 2). The second announcement was that they’ll be offering an entirely free MMORPG sometime later this year (see earlier entry – Link).

To be honest, I’m not a user of Sony’s products, but it appears that the only game currently using their Station Exchange service is Everquest II. Still. It’s their most popular game I think, and at US$14.99/month it’s probably a cash cow they don’t intend to touch. In contrast, I’ve not heard encouraging things lately about PlanetSide. So I suspect that this move is both an attempt to save the product from extinction as well as perhaps teach Sony some lessons they need to learn in preparation for the entirely-free offering they intend to release later.

Even if PlanetSide goes under, the lessons learned would still likely be invaluable. In my opinion though, enticing players into PlanetSide with free accounts (even time-limited ones) and, perhaps, letting them deal in virtual goods – assuming they add PlanetSide to the SE service – might be the best move they’ve made to date. If however they don’t add it to the Exchange, I don’t think people will bother. They’re not the only (free) game in town.

{Image Copyright © Sony Online Entertainment}