State of the (Air) Game Address 2014

It’s that time of the year when Leonard, his grand annual speech in hand, steps on the podium and blasts away.

“Working on anything?”

Mr. Smedley, Messrs. Higby and Moyer, members of the development team, my fellow Auraxians:

Today on Auraxis, a newbie spent his hard-earned certs on the new one-way certification line of his afterburner fuel tanks with the aim to one day finally become viable in the air, and who shortly thereafter got bombed out of the skies — one-shot by a Dalton Liberator.

An ambitious aviator started up a squad with his best team mate which would later become the invincible death ball of the skies on the server as more and more fellow factioners and fourth-factioners, of questionable skill level, join in on the air-ganking.

A “career” pilot fine-tuned his aircraft loadout only to find out, minutes later, that there is little to no variety to be had here.

A farmer shelled out 700 Station Cash for the new faction-specific Coyote Missiles in preparation of some ground pounding. An old-hand gave his junior the cert-healthy advice to always man ground-to-air turrets or armored vehicles, and to always carry a missile launcher, because shooting down ESFs, being as fragile as they are, nets the most points. A youngling’s dream of becoming an ace pilot got shattered, as such an “ace pilot” escorted by a full squadron of wingmen (t)rolled over him in the blink of an eye.

And in tight-knit ESF communites across PlanetSide’s serverscape, the few first-generation aces remaining remember their talented wingmen who quit the game a long, long time ago, wondering out of which habit they are still paying for premium membership after more than a year of the same old air game.

Tonight, the ESF community speaks with one inner voice to the people who made this game: it is you, the developers, who made PlanetSide 2 what it is today.

Here are the results of your latest efforts: The lowest survival rate for ESFs of all colors in over a year. A booming Station Cash market for Coyote Missiles that have scaled the top of the food chain, becoming the premium must-have nose gun against both ground and air. A finely crafted free-to-play waiting room simulator for nonpremium members who eagerly await the next resource deposit at the warp gate with their keyboards weighed down. And for the first time in the franchise’s history, hack reviewers around the world declared PlanetSide the best free-to-play game of 2013.

That’s why I believe this can be a breakthrough year for SOE. After three years of development time full of grit and determined effort, PlanetSide 2’s pay-to-win business model is better-positioned for the twenty-first century than any other MMO’s on Earth. And even if Mr. Smedley did say, puppy-eyed but with a sinister smile, “[T]he goal is not to sell power…. We will not sell a more powerful gun or vehicle [in the cash shop],” it was just meant as an insider joke.

The question for everyone in this SCU (Solitary Confinement Unit), playing this game day in and day out, is whether you are going to help or hinder the direction this game is going in. For over a year now, this game has been consumed by a rancorous battle over which faction is going to come out ahead. It’s an unimportant battle because it’s not only the colorblind anymore who fail to notice any difference, or distinction, whatsoever between the three empires.

As Auraxian, I’m committed to making PlanetSide work better, and rebuilding the trust in the dev-people who sent us on this odyssey. I believe most of you are, too. Last month, thanks to the work of Mr. Moyer and others, SOE released the ESF update so shortly after a waiting period of only six months. Nobody got anything they wanted, but SOE can still do more to invest in this great game’s future while bringing down the skill ceiling of their game and raising its cash floor at the same time in a unhealthy way. But this cash-for-skill compromise should leave the development team freer to focus on creating more cosmetic items and more powerful weapons for sale in the cash shop, not creating new fun and engaging battles full of interaction over the lands of Auraxis.

In the coming months, let’s see where else they can make progress. Let’s make this a year of regurgitated game content Hossin and the PlayStation 4. That’s what most Auraxians want after all, isn’t it? Not the notion that if you hone your game skills you can get ahead in PlanetSide 2.

Believe it. Watch your wallet.

God bless you.

—Leonard

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