John Smedley recently gave an interview to Chinese site 17173.com which was subsequently picked up by MMOsite and then of course by the trusty PlanetSide Universe.
In short, SOE are aiming for the PS2 beta to begin before the end of this year and the game will use a free-to-play model. Smedley stated that the beta may possibly slip to the start of next year, but right now this was their goal. It makes sense, as if SOE can get the beta begun this year then that sets them up for a Spring 2012 release (which would - coincidentally - put them up against The Secret World for new MMO releases, as that is scheduled for release in April).
Following some dubious translations of the original Chinese interview, Smedley later dropped by the PlanetSide Universe forums to clarify some points. Among the highlights:
- SOE will not sell power in PS2's cash shop.
- The specific F2P model has yet to be determined, but "we like League of Legends a lot".
- Played-created weapons may be added to the game post-release, but will not be in the game at launch.
- Scripted AI PvE invasions may also make an appearance down the line, but again will not be in the game at release.
- PlanetSide 2's budget is approximately $50million.
- There will be a much greater emphasis on preventing players from hacking. GameGuard and PunkBuster may be employed to this end.
Overall this interview was quite encouraging. I'm a big fan of League of Legends and believe it is without doubt the best implementation of a free-to-play system, so if SOE are going to base their system around LoL's then that is going to be a big plus.
With luck, the beta will begin before the end of the year and we can start getting some more concrete details.
Still waiting on my beta invite, Smed.