Planetside 2 officially launched on 20 November 2012 and has now been live for precisely three months. The initial honeymoon period saw a predictable surge of interest generated by marketing and player curiosity was further enabled by the free-to-play model. Clearly, that period has subsided and a more stable player-base has begun to emerge.
Earlier today, John Smedley, President of Sony Online Entertainment, tweeted:
Server merges soon. Info coming by Monday. No server transfers coming till after that’s done. Wouldn’t be right doing it other way around
— John Smedley (@j_smedley) February 20, 2013
This statement will undoubtedly have many a doom-monger reaching for their “The End of Planetside 2 is Nigh” placards. At this stage I think it is safe to politely ignore them.
As this natural fall-off of players took place, calls for server transfers and merges began to appear across PS2 communities as the grand battle scenarios of full servers became harder to find. As Redditor theDashRendar posted;
“The biggest, biggest selling point of Planetside 2 is that it offers massive battles… So it is important to have lots and lots of players playing at all times to actually show off the game.”
An excellent series of forum posts by community member, BuzzCutPsycho, details many areas of potential improvement for Planetside 2 developers to consider, amongst them a section entitled “Mergers Not Transfers – This is Essential to the Survival of Planetside” in which he states;
“In Planetside 2, the content is the players. Because of this, the game is not enjoyable with a low population.”
It makes sense then, that SOE listens to its customers and adapts to this changing population for maximum benefit. After all, nobody wants to log on to wander an empty battlefield. Reducing the number of available servers will intensify the combat for a more engaging experience.
A Healthy Prognosis?
But equally, it was important at launch for SOE to be able to accommodate the initial interest – imagine the outcry and negative publicity had there been too few servers and players were unable to get their mass-combat fix. Far better to have an excess of servers three months down the line.
I see this turn of events as a natural part of the growth of Planetside 2. In the development of the human body, more cells than necessary are used, and only when the natural process of cell death occurs do structures like fingers form from the initial tissue mass (avoiding webbed fingers). What we are seeing in Planetside 2 is necessary apoptosis, to avoid the damaging process of necrosis (uncontrolled tissue death). After all, nobody wants “leaky, blobbing” anything, especially entire online communities.
Providing SOE can adapt to these changing biorhythms as they seem to be, there will no doubt be many similar peaks and troughs in the future of Planetside 2 but it will all be part of the natural growth cycle.
Tell the doom-mongers to stick a band-aid on it and carry on.