Column: Planetside Arena and the Friday Night Whatevers

It’s Friday night! I’m playing a few rounds of H1Z1 to get my anger on before throwing my Gamefly rental of Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for a good weekend film to watch.

I’m going to tell you my wonderful readers what I told Daybreak before Planetside Arena launched into Early Access this week: It’s a neat concept that definitely has something going for it, but your biggest struggle is going to be convincing people to play it. What I didn’t tell them because I didn’t want to seem to blunt or immediately burn bridges with the new PR people (the old ones stopped talking to me) is that they have an uphill battle for two reasons: First, they are Daybreak Game Company. Second, it’s a free to play battle royale game.

I’ll be frank; Daybreak Game Company doesn’t have a great reputation as far as battle royale games go considering how badly they managed to mess up Z1 Battle Royale and H1Z1 and grasp failure from the hands of market dominance in both cases. There are a lot of people still very angry about Daybreak’s continued mismanagement of the PS4 H1Z1 and I should know. I’m one of them. Expect an H1Z1 season 5 roundup at some point in the future. Actually Daybreak doesn’t have a great reputation period. It just seems like large swaths of people that they’ve come across have come away feeling burned in one way or another. Everquest players, Planetside players, H1Z1 players, the ones hanging on to those games that shut down like ten years ago. All of them. Daybreak couldn’t have a lower public perception if John Smedley was still employed and inviting people to DDOS the servers again.

Second; it’s a free to play battle royale game in a market full to the brim. Sure, Planetside Arena has massive battles with upwards of 300 people. Is it filling them up? Nah. We’re in the opening Friday night and the game is having trouble keeping above 700 people concurrently. There are over 1,300 people playing Planetside 2, nearly double the amount in Planetside Arena and one of those games is seven years old while the other should be getting its early access launch rush. Over on the Twitch side of things, Planetside Arena has 434 viewers as of this publishing. You know what has more? H1Z1. So people aren’t playing and they aren’t really interested in watching and again, we’re in weekend #1.

And ultimately Planetside Arena isn’t even that bad of a game, which is why I’m sitting here typing about it at nearly 1am on a Saturday when I could be doing weekend stuff like sleeping. My big fear with Planetside Arena is that it would release to a shrug and a “whatever,” and that appears to be exactly what is happening. Who knows, maybe Daybreak can pull it around and convince people to actually play the game. They haven’t managed it with the streamers, but after all this is just weekend #1 and who ever said you only get one chance at a launch?

Oh right.

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