Smedley’s long been outspoken about his admiration for the free-to-play model, which he believes to be the future of MMO gaming, thanks to larger studios and higher-tier games — like SOE and PS2 — offering quality products in the F2P space.
“I think three or four years ago, free-to-play had this kind of connotation that maybe the quality level wasn’t there. You are definitely seeing free-to-play games at the premier level now. I certainly feel like we’re in the leading pack on that. We’ve got the quality, the visual fidelity, the feel of the shooter, it’s as good as any of the top-tier titles. And those games can’t have 2,000 players playing at the same time. I don’t mean like in instances, I mean 2,000 players in the exact same continent at the exact same time. We have no control over where they go. They could all converge on one base and wreak havoc if they want to.”
The game is “weeks away” from beta, with the launch date to be determined by the success of those betas. Also in development is a suite of smartphone and tablet apps that sound highly intriguing:
“…it’s kind of like a complete encyclopedia. But it also has community features for the game, so you can go and you can check out the videos, tweets, Facebook stuff, all that good stuff. You can do complete voice chat with people in the game…. And what’s even cooler, there’s a map. We’re going to enable this thing…this is going to be like the hunt for Osama. It’s a map app, and what we’re going to be doing is allow players to fly a drone on their phone. And then if they have a high enough level in the game, they’ll be able to launch a drone strike. So gameplay out of your phone or your iPad, and it works on both iPhone or Android.”
Smedley’s also got high hopes for the game, wanting it to exceed the original PlanetSide‘s player base by “20,000 percent,” which is probably part exaggeration and part real expectation.
“The reason being, we brought the first one out in 2003. MMOs in general were still in their infancy. Remember, this was pre-World of Warcraft. The only two big games at that point in time where Ultima Online and EverQuest. EverQuest was still going way up. So we introduced it. Nobody had ever seen an MMO FPS. They didn’t know what to make of it, and the graphic quality was good for its time, but it wasn’t the time for it. It felt like it was a little too early. Now, it’s just the opposite. We’ve got the feeling of a modern-day shooter combined with an MMO. We’ve nailed it.”