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SOE All Access changes go into place on April 23rd

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide, Business Models, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox, Dragon's Prophet

All Access
After a couple of delays in rolling out the revamped All Access plan, SOE has targeted "on or about" April 23rd as the go date for the changes.

According to the revised FAQ, the new membership plan will include "top-tier" access to SOE's entire library, a monthly stipend of 500 Station Cash, a 10% discount on marketplace purchases, and other promotions. The cost will be $14.99 a month with discounts for multi-month packages. SOE said that all current memberships will be automatically transitioned into the new All Access plan and that details concerning Dragon's Prophet benefits are forthcoming.

SOE Live 2014 begins registration, offers early bird deals

EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide, Events (Real-World), DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2, Dragon's Prophet

SOE Live
The registration for this summer's SOE Live is now open for business! The convention, which will take place from August 14th through 17th in Las Vegas, will feature panels, parties, contests, and more.

If you register before May 12th, you'll be eligible for the early bird deal of $129 for the premium pass. Evening passes are $99, day passes are $49, and kids under 12 may attend the convention for free. There are also options to pay more for a Sunday brunch with the developers and reserve an entire table for a group.

SOE will mail badges to folks who register by May 12th and has made a deal with Planet Hollywood Hotel to offer discounted room rates.

SOE All Access changes pushed back two weeks

EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide, Business Models, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2, Subscription

All Access
The big changes to SOE's All Access plan will be held back two weeks while the studio finishes work on it, moving it from the beginning to the middle of April.

"Looking like new membership plans will go live around 4/16 instead of 4/2," SOE President John Smedley wrote on Twitter yesterday. "Lots of stuff to finish."

The new All Access pass will give players premium access to all of SOE's MMOs, a discount in the store, and a monthly stipend of Station Cash for a flat fee of $14.99 a month.

[Thanks to BabaGraPL for the tip!]

PlanetSide vs. PlanetSide 2: The key differences

Sci-Fi, Video, PlanetSide, Business Models, Classes, Game Mechanics, PvP, War, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Livestream, PlanetSide 2

PlanetSide screenshot
If you're a PlanetSide player who has been around since the beginning, I don't need to explain the differences between the original and its follow-up, PlanetSide 2. But if you're an old-school player who has never touched the second version, a new-school player who's never played the original, or a player who's brand-new to the universe completely, then this article about the PlanetSide duo and what sets the two games apart is for you.

The first and most important difference is each game's population. I am not exaggerating when I say that the original PlanetSide is today merely a shell of its former self. I tried on several occasions to find a fight to join and was only once able to locate a tiny battle in one small corner of the world. That's something to keep in mind if you give the elder game a deeper look.

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The Game Archaeologist: Classic MMOs in August

Anarchy Online, Asheron's Call, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest, Lineage 2, PlanetSide, The Matrix Online, News Items, Opinion, Ultima Online, Vanguard, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

The Game Archaeologist Classic MMOs in August
How few players do you need to have before operating an MMO becomes ridiculously unprofitable and in need of closing? In the case of The Matrix Online, we found out that the magic number was 500. I wouldn't have even guessed that so few people were in that game when its shutdown was announced, especially considering the vocal anguish that arose when SOE lowered the boom.

I guess it goes to show that we're often quite clueless what goes on behind the curtain. There's always this balance between the number-crunchers (who need players and money to justify continued operations) and the passionate creators (who are often developers putting in the effort because they simply love the game and its community). If nothing else, it reinforced my belief that SOE does bend over backwards to keep these games running as long as possible, much longer than some other studios would in a similar situation.

So what other news regarding classic MMOs happened this past month? It's time for another one of my patented roundups, complete with archaeological commentary!

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The Game Archaeologist: Checking in with classic MMOs

Anarchy Online, Asheron's Call, Dark Age of Camelot, Lineage, Lineage 2, PlanetSide, MMO Industry, News Items, Ultima Online, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

The Game Archaeologist Checking in with classic MMOs
What's this, you say as you rub your eyes in disbelief. Is it... The Game Archaeologist, long since thought lost in his expedition to Atlantis (and the trials therein)? It is indeed, my friends. TGA has been a long-running passion of mine on Massively, but I needed a break for a while to recouperate and refocus. However, as of late I've felt the call of neglected classic MMOs and wanted to make sure that they were getting some column love here on the site.

So going forward, expect to see The Game Archaeologist pop out of his hidey hole once or twice a month to talk about our old favorites and perhaps pontificate more on the history of MMO development. Sound good? Did you miss me at all? You totally didn't, did you.

If you've been out of touch with classic MMOs, I've done the legwork this week to provide you with the 10 important and relevant news items that are sweeping through this aging yet still vibrant community. Read on, McDuff!

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PlanetSide 1 appears to be going free-to-play... eventually

Sci-Fi, PlanetSide, Business Models, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2, Anniversaries

In a series of tweets earlier this evening, SOE's John Smedley hinted that classic PlanetSide 1 will at some future date be converted into a free-to-play MMO. He wrote,
We did a mass grant of anyone who has ever played ps1 or ps2 with free time in ps1. We weren't ready to announce it yet because the database grant is still ongoing and won't be done till tmw morning. So please if you didn't get flagged chill. We are trying to do something cool for everyone and we were going to tell people when it's done. But people saw it and others broadcast the info. Please don't complain :) we aren't raising your taxes we are making a game free. This also gives us more time to make it f2p. So enjoy starting tmw late morning.
This news comes just as PlanetSide 1 is celebrating its 10th birthday. Smedley's tweet refers to a new SOE promotion that will grant PlanetSide 2 players six free months of PS1 play.

Player panel submissions open for SOE Live 2013

EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Vanguard, Free Realms, DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, PlanetSide 2, Dragon's Prophet

Player panel submissions open for SOE Live 2013
Last year, SOE threw a new ingredient into its convention mix -- player panels. The result was such a hit that the studio is not only bringing them back this year, but extending their availability; Sunday has been added to the player panels schedule, and that means there are plenty of openings!

Do you have a subject involving any SOE game that you think would be of interest and benefit others? Maybe you are a whiz at livesteaming or you have primo tips and tricks on cosplay to dispense. What about sharing your fan site or holding a raid clinic? Whatever your idea, submit your proposal by 3:00 a.m EDT June 1st for consideration. If selected, you and up to three other panel members will receive All Access passes to SOE Live 2013 (no other expenses are covered, including food, travel, or add-ons). Panel selection -- which is not on a first-come, first-served basis -- will be completed mid-June.

The Game Archaeologist: When sequels attack!

Asheron's Call, Darkfall, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Guild Wars, Lineage, Lineage 2, Neocron 2, PlanetSide, RuneScape, Guild Wars 2, Global Agenda, Final Fantasy XIV, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2

The Game Archaeologist When sequels attack!
Sequels are both the bane of and a fact of life for movies and video games. Well, "bane" is a strong word, and you're probably thinking of Batman right now anyway, but personally, I'm always willing to give the benefit of doubt to any continuation of a favorite franchise. While we don't see sequels pop up as often in MMOs, they do exist and have significant effects upon the original title that bears the same name.

It's here that MMOs diverge from movies and other video games. With those, the original is not in any sort of danger, other than the perception of having its legacy dragged down into the muck (Caddyshack II, anyone?) and perhaps overstaying its welcome. An MMO sequel, on the other hand, can cause serious consequences to its ancestor.

Here at Game Archaeologist, we look at classic games that have often seen their time come and go. But what happens to one of these titles when a sequel attacks? Almost anything, it turns out.

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Sony officially announces SOE Live 2013

EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide, Events (Real-World), Vanguard, Free Realms, DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2, Wizardry Online

Sony officially announces SOE Live 2013
While we've known that SOE Live was moving location and dates this year to Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas from August 1st through the 4th, we now have official confirmation from the studio itself.

SOE Head of Global Relations Linda Carlson drafted up an accompanying post about the upcoming convention that includes several pictures from previous years. "We're all gamers too," she writes, "and can hardly wait to hang out with you again! Everyone at the company LOVES going to SOE Live, the one event each that focuses solely on our players. We have everything in common!"

Carlson explained that the change in venue was made for several reasons, primarily to keep costs down, have more flexible meeting space, and experience better air quality. She confirmed that, as in previous years, kids will get in free to the event.

Cold, tired, and dead: Hands-on with PlanetSide 2's newest continent

Betas, Sci-Fi, PlanetSide, Previews, War, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, MMOFPS, Hands-On (Massively's), PlanetSide 2

PlaneSide 2
PlanetSide 2 is a game that's all about huge maps and war on an epic scale. The MMOFPS title's continents are massive -- dozens of times larger than the average first-person-shooter map and packed with structures to dominate, vehicles to crash, and enemy players to kill. For the last few weeks, players have been content to murder one another in the various environments of Indar, the only continent available when the beta went live, but everything changed over the weekend.

Now, there's a new kid in town: a vast, frozen wasteland that brings new challenges and new stories to the game in a way that Indar perhaps never could. It's called Esamir, and I gave my life (several times) to control and defend it.

This is my PlanetSide 2 story.

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SOE releases new PlanetSide 2 video, details video contest

Betas, Sci-Fi, Video, PlanetSide, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2

SOE releases new PlanetSide 2 video, video contest
Sony Online Entertainment and Chinese publisher The9 have released a new PlanetSide 2 video focused on the nostalgic remembrances of veteran PlanetSide players. The featurette runs for approximately four minutes, and while most of the footage is talking-head (and subtitled) interview clips, there are glimpses of PS2 gameplay to be found as well.

SOE also wants you to know about its PlanetSide Vet Video Contest. If you're a PS veteran, you can submit a 30-second video confessional describing your most memorable game experience for a chance to win passes to SOE Live in Las Vegas. The top three entries will win passes to the October convention, while the runners-up will be highlighted on the PS2 YouTube playlist.

Check out the clip after the cut.

[Source: SOE press release]

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Matt Higby says PlanetSide 2 beta is 'not just a game demo'

Betas, Sci-Fi, PlanetSide, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox

PlanetSide 2 - quite possibly the greatest screenshot ever
PlanetSide 2 faithful, your long wait is almost over. Well, for some of you anyway. Creative director Matt Higby took to the PlanetSide Universe forums recently to elaborate on the game's forthcoming beta schedule. He said that testing will begin this week (between July 9th and July 15th, to be specific).

He also reiterated Sony Online Entertainment's invite priority system. The firm is staggering its closed beta invite phases. First up are a few PlanetSide veterans and those with priority keys from devs, E3 giveaways, and PC Gamer. Higby also encouraged vets to be sure and update the email addresses associated with their station accounts, as that's how they'll know exactly when they can log in and test.

Test is the operative word, too, as this is definitely not a marketing beta. "We are doing true beta testing, not just a game demo, and we implore those of you who are invited to understand and respect that," Higby said. "Things will break, the server will be unavailable sometimes, and we will cancel scheduled tests when we find something that breaks before the test starts. All of this will help us make a better final game."

[Thanks to Scott for the tip!]

PlanetSide 2 producer's letter teases beta plans, PlanetSide promotion

Betas, Sci-Fi, PlanetSide, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Promotions, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox

PlanetSide 2 - Vanu and his goofy purple armor
So how about that: two pieces of PlanetSide 2 news in a single day. We must be getting close to beta or something, right SOE? Right?

On the subject of betas, Sony Online Entertainment has released a new producer's letter that spells out who will be accessing its new MMOFPS initially. As expected, PlanetSide vets and other gamers who have obtained third-party testing codes will get to fight first.

Producer Josh Hackney also says that this Sunday (July 1st) is PlanetSide day. To celebrate, SOE is awarding former PlanetSide fraggers with 30 days of free game time. If you've ever had an active PlanetSide subscription, come back to Auraxis on the company dime and hone your skills while you wait for your beta invite. Hackney also says that this month's E3 demo was the first of many PlanetSide 2 appearances slated for the summer. Check out the full post for more details.

The Firing Line: PlanetSide 2's Matt Higby on the MMOFPS revolution

Sci-Fi, PlanetSide, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox, The Firing Line

The Firing Line interviews PlanetSide 2's Matt Higby
Sony Online Entertainment has begun carpet-bombing media outlets with publicity relating to its upcoming PlanetSide 2 MMOFPS. The game has been in development for quite a while now, but up until very recently the devs have kept a low profile. Now the title's Twitter feed is exploding on a daily basis, awe-inspiring alpha gameplay videos are finding their way into the public eye, and interviews abound.

I managed to get creative director Matt Higby's attention for a few moments, and he's got some interesting things to say about PS2's upside. Would you believe that MMOFPS is about to become a new industry buzzword? Read on after the break.

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