Population balance: why is it an issue for Planetside 2? When a faction has a higher population than the other factions it clearly has an advantage because PS2 is a numbers game, the more players thrown at an enemy the more likely they will take the win. While this is the advantage to having a higher population there are problems that occur with these as well. Players who are outnumbered will often log off and quit the game, or switch empires to be on the winning side which can make fights for both factions rather boring. No matter how SOE has tried to solve this issue it isn’t going away anytime soon.
In GU12 SOE put in place a new system for new members to find servers based on the population of the factions. Say a player wanted to be TR well the recommended server for TR are ones with the lowest TR population to encourage players to go there. This does even out the population numbers but it creates some major issues in its place. The new players who join are facing an equally large force but they don’t have the same skills or gear as that faction. This puts them at a clear disadvantage in the field and only encourages them to quit the game, or join another faction like the one that had the larger population to begin with.
The only incentive for players to stay with a lower population faction is the bonus experience they receive for all their actions but this only goes so far. The problem here is that at most the bonus is around 50% more experience and that really isn’t enough to justify players to keep losing over and over again. This system is supposed to attract players from the other empires and get them to switch sides to maximize their experience gained in the time they have to play. For players who are already fighting with their main character this experience gain is great, but it doesn’t encourage the population to balance out which is why it was put in place.
For players who are already fighting with their main character this experience bonus is great. It might even encourage them to stick in a fight when they are clearly outnumbered. There is a lot to be said about free experience especially when you can suicide out of a tower make 4-5 kills. However the bonus experience doesn’t balance the population out which is why it was put in place. It does a decent job trying to keep players on the lower population side of a fight but it still has limitations. Frankly players have no interest in making a new character just so they can make a little more experience and SOE is to blame.
If SOE allowed all weapons and vehicles to be universal than every weapon purchased with station cash would be on every character throughout that players account they would be able to easily switch characters when the population bonus was in place to maximize their experience gain. I won’t delve into why they should allow players the same vehicles or weapons in this post, but maybe in the future I will discuss why it’s a good idea. Back on point even if this was an option the bonus experience would have to be pretty large to attract enough population to the other faction to balance it out. Of course once the population is balanced the bonus experience would be gone which only encourages players to return to their main character, though I suppose some are lazy and will stick with the faction they are currently. So even if the bonus experience worked it would cause an endless circle where nothing is accomplished in the long run.
What can SOE do to fix the population imbalances? Well without causing too much of a fuss they should look at balancing out the empires. No matter which empire you think needs to be nerfed or buffed SOE has the ability to look at the stats of each class and each gun. Once these issues are fixed populations will stabilize fairly quickly and there will no longer be a fourth faction. For those who are wondering the fourth faction is the group of players who roam around to whatever weapons are the most powerful. This is a reasonable suggestion to fix the population imbalances and while it won’t sort out all the other issues that Planetside 2 has it is a great start.