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PlanetSide 2's free-to-play economy explained

Sony Online Entertainment's ambitious massively multiplayer FPS PlanetSide 2 will be free-to-play. However, creative director Matt Higby reassured us that the game won't be "pay-to-win."

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Sony Online Entertainment's ambitious massively multiplayer FPS PlanetSide 2 will be free-to-play. But, how will SOE make money?

Microtransactions, of course! However, creative director Matt Higby reassured us that the game won't be "pay-to-win." At Game Developers Conference last week, Higby promised that "anything that affects gameplay, such as grenades or medkits or implants that give you additional power within the game, will be exclusively unlocked via [in-game] resources."

Higby says that while upgrades will be free, PS2 will also offer "sidegrades," a term Higby repeatedly used during his presentation. A "sidegrade" would allow for a different play style, but isn't necessarily more powerful. To illustrate the concept, Higby talked about how one gun could fire less powerful ammo more rapidly, or more powerful ammo less frequently--the net damage would be about the same. "Things like sidegraded weapons that don't give you more power will be a split between Station Cash and in-game resources," Higby noted.

However, one part of the PlanetSide 2 in-game store won't accept in-game currency. "All the cosmetic stuff will be Station Cash-only," Higby added. Such is the price of vanity, no?

From The Chatty

  • reply
    March 14, 2012 3:30 PM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, PlanetSide 2's free-to-play economy explained.

    Sony Online Entertainment's ambitious massively multiplayer FPS PlanetSide 2 will be free-to-play. However, creative director Matt Higby reassured us that the game won't be "pay-to-win."

    • reply
      March 14, 2012 3:42 PM

      That's...actually a pretty reasonable approach.

      • reply
        March 14, 2012 3:49 PM

        $15 heavy hitter does
        200dmg per hit
        5 hits per second

        VS

        Free machine gun
        100 dmg per hit
        10 hits per sec

        You have 1000 health. Assuming perfect aim. Who dies first?

        • reply
          March 14, 2012 4:04 PM

          Assuming they both stood still and opened fire simultaneously, they'd both die at the same time.

          • reply
            March 14, 2012 5:07 PM

            p1 has free gun, shoots p2
            p2 has $15 gun, shoots p1

            TIME:      0      .1     .2     .3     .4     .5     .6     .7     .8     .9     1
            
            P1 life: 800 800 600 600 400 400 200 200 0 0 0
            P2 life: 900 800 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 100 100



            I believe P2 lives with 100 health. P1 can't fire off the last shot. Granted this is in a vacuum where shots are perfect, aim is perfect, timing is perfect, etc

            • reply
              March 14, 2012 5:11 PM

              here it is with a gun that does 500 damage twice a second vs a gun that does 100 damage 10 times a second


              TIME:      0      .1     .2     .3     .4     .5     .6     .7     .8     .9     1
              
              P1 life: 500 500 500 500 500 0
              P2 life: 900 800 700 600 500 400 400 400 400 400 400

              • reply
                March 14, 2012 5:13 PM

                sounds like you know how valuable that gun is, and you wouldn't be caught dead without one, would you?

                • reply
                  March 14, 2012 5:17 PM

                  yeah if you've got an aimbot better shell out that $15 quick so you can win at planetside 2

            • reply
              March 14, 2012 8:17 PM

              You don't die instantly when the shot is fired. I'm sure there's still time to first off shots before you're killed.

        • reply
          March 14, 2012 4:21 PM

          Both?

        • reply
          March 14, 2012 4:30 PM

          The heavy hitter died as soon as he paid $15 for a gun. lol

        • Zek
          reply
          March 15, 2012 6:22 AM

          I really hope they're not saying that "sidegrades" will be cash only, because they're never truly balanced. At best they're situational and better in certain circumstances. In this example the slower gun is clearly better because it does more damage up front.

      • reply
        March 14, 2012 4:09 PM

        Agreed, completely acceptable especially when you factor in that you don't have to pay a monthly fee.

      • reply
        March 14, 2012 5:07 PM

        Yeah, I'm actually completely fine with that.

    • reply
      March 14, 2012 4:00 PM

      Has there ever been a developer that has claimed otherwise of their F2P game?

    • reply
      March 14, 2012 4:49 PM

      A "sidegrade" would allow for a different play style, but isn't necessarily more powerful. To illustrate the concept, Higby talked about how one gun could fire less powerful ammo more rapidly, or more powerful ammo less frequently--the net damage would be about the same.

      "but isn't necessarily more powerful"; "the net damage would be about the same"

      Either it IS or it ISN'T. Those two sentences contradict what he is so eloquently trying to say.

      • reply
        March 14, 2012 8:12 PM

        There could be more than one pay weapon, one may be weaker and one may be stronger than the default.

        "Isn't necessarily more powerful" just sounds like mostly PR spin, either way.

    • reply
      March 14, 2012 4:57 PM

      Even if it works out initially they're bound to run into backlash when things are inevitably rebalanced in later patches. If a for-pay "sidegrade" turns out to be a bit more powerful than originally intended any kind of adjustment (whether through making a defense more powerful or the sidegrade less powerful) is going to be met with anger from the players who purchased it. If you buy something, use it for weeks/months, then all of a sudden it's less powerful or performs differently you're going to be pissed.

      With enough playtesting it may not happen very often but it has to happen occasionally.

    • reply
      March 14, 2012 8:17 PM

      Team Fortress 2 works like this now for unlocks and it's working great.

      • reply
        March 15, 2012 9:31 AM

        TF2 unlocks (weapons at least) can also be found randomly, crafted from TONS of other weapons(most of which will probably be useless to you though, as the game seems to love dropping dupes) or traded with other players. PS2 is nothing like this.

        Not all TF2 unlocks have a legitimate downside from their basic counterpart either. The Equalizer is an example of this: the only downside is blocking medics from healing you when you have it out, and this works out as another plus since it boosts your speed as your health decreases, and putting it away allows medics to heal you again if the situation doesn't favor high speed melee.

    • reply
      March 15, 2012 3:55 AM

      I like it as long as the pay and free weapons are all ways well balanced i have no problem with it soon as they start to make pay weapons stronger i will leave tho.

    • reply
      March 15, 2012 5:00 AM

      It seems they are really trying to model it after the TF2 community of side-grades and cosmetic items as much as possible. I'm completely fine with that as long as they do a good job of balancing them.