In the gaming community, there is a long standing history of fan-made websites surrounding players’ favorite games. It is not often, however, that you see the long standing devotion that the PlanetSide community has for its favorite game.
Launched in 2003 by developer Sony Online Entertainment, PlanetSide was one of the first games to be called a Massively Multiplayer First-Person Shooter (MMOFPS). Since its inception, PlanetSide has held a steady and loyal fanbase which has been increasing rapidly in the past year since the announcement of PlanetSide 2, the game’s sequel.
Chief among the communities of fan-created content is PlanetSide Universe. Started in 2002 while the original game was still in beta, PSU has grown to be the largest and longest running PlanetSide community. Its founder, who prefers his online pseudonym, Hamma, spends most of his free time running the site. “I never expected back then we would be where we are today,” says Hamma. “Our 10th anniversary is coming up soon…When we started we were the underdogs to a major PlanetSide fan site at the time.”
With PlanetSide 2 currently in closed beta testing, hype around the game continues to grow. This is helped in no small part by the game’s development team, who actively engage the community on PlanetSide Universe, reddit and Twitter. The team recently broadcast a design meeting live via streaming service TwitchTV, allowing fans insight to the development process and upcoming features.
“SOE has been awesome over the years as well helping us to grow even more,” says Hamma. Since the announcement of PlanetSide 2 in July 2011, his site has seen 430% growth in page views. SOE staff can often be found discussing the game on Auraxis Global Network, PSU’s media arm, in addition to a handful of homegrown sites and shows.
For PlanetSide 2 to be successful, though, SOE knows it must market to the masses as well. Lack of marketing is often cited as a major reason the original PlanetSide was not as successful as it could have been. The game, which will support 6,000 players per server, needs a high number of users to take part in the large scale battles for which it is known. SOE has learned from its past, however and the game has received critical acclaim at industry conventions around the world including E3, Gamescon and ChinaJoy. It has even signed Ivorian-born, Chinese soccer player Didier Drogba to promote the game in Asia.