We met with SOE’s Planetside 2 team recently, specifically Art Director Tramell Ray Isaac, to chat about the game’s ongoing progress, PS4 development, mission system, Hossin map, but mainly the sheer astounding success of the Player Studio. Player Studio allows enterprising and creative PS2 players to make items for sale in the game’s cash shop. In doing so, they get a cut of the action. What you may not expect is that some of Planetside 2’s highest grossers are making more than most of us do in several paychecks from one month’s worth of sales.
Some of the top earning Player Studio creators in PS2 have made $8,000 in one month. That’s before taxes, as they’re paid as 1099 non-employee contractors, but still… that’s well more than I make in a month, I don’t know about you. These are guys who are self-taught artists, modelers, and photoshoppers. One of them is a 16 year-old who took a basic Photoshop class in high school, then made $8,000 in just a month. Of course, these are the most successful folks, who obviously were clued into what people wanted from PS2’s shop and targeted it (one hugely popular helmet is one that has a hood, for example). Can you imagine what will happen when Player Studio spreads to Landmark and eventually EverQuest Next?
It’s been live in Free Realms before, and EQ2, but those games’ audiences are a bit smaller and less geared towards this sort of system. Planetside 2’s F2P model made it a perfect fit, and now we’re watching some prolific and talented players make a healthy supplemental income from contributing to the aesthetic of their favorite game. And it’s all guided by Isaac himself, who has worked very closely with the submitters and on the forums to detail what the guidelines are for each type of item and what faction they represent. Vanu, NC, and TR all have to follow rules for what their looks include, and that’s a large part of what Isaac has been doing with the Studio. He’s the Art Director, so it all comes through him.
Sound crazy time-consuming? Oddly, it’s only about 20% of what T-Ray does any given week. He goes through submissions, offers feedback, and he and his staff work closely to submit and get approved pieces into the game. But that time allotment may change as very soon players will be able to make melee weapons, scopes, and add customized stuff to the new vehicles as well.
The Player Studio is quickly becoming a (pardon the pun) Landmark representation of how online games and their communities can profit together to create content. But that’s not all Planetside 2 has going on. Outfit owned bases are coming, though initially it’s for bragging rights eventually they’ll come with additional perks and bonuses for the Outfit that owns them. The beginning of the mission system is now in place, making sure all players have guidance on where to go and what to do at any time in the game. But an expanded system is also in the works, where leaders can direct people and guide them to objectives, even offering XP for those players that help complete their objectives. How cool is that?
There’s also a Quality of Life update coming soon that will fix a lot of the nagging broken stuff that has been bugging players for a while now, but more importantly the Medic will be getting his overhaul soon with new toys and new abilities to make the class more fun as well as useful. Meanwhile, progress is still being made on Hossin. It was shelved while the team worked on Operation Make Faster Game, but is due out before the end of Summer. Overall, it seems that Planetside 2 just keeps chugging on with weekly updates and a really driven and dedicated community. Isaac is certain they haven’t even yet hit their full potential. The Playstation 4 version is going to be huge for the team, as is their expansion into Korea, Brazil, and Russia later this year. Like many MMO gamers know, there aren’t a lot of games quite like Planetside 2. When other regions and PS4 players get a game that does everything Battlefield can do on such a massive scale, it’ll be interesting to see just how big it can become.