Sony’s free-to-play online shooter Planetside 2 will pack 2,000 players in an arena (interview)

First-person shooter games have become a multibillion-dollar market. But no one has really succeeded in the massively multiplayer online space with high-end hardcore shooters. Sony Online Entertainment hopes to change that with the upcoming launch of Planetside 2. John Smedley, head of SOE, believes that the game will set a new bar for online shooters, with more than 2,000 people fighting together in the same region. He also believes that the free-to-play business model for the game will attract a much larger audience than is typical for an MMO. Smedley also feels that Sony Online learned some important lessons from last year’s hacker attack, which brought down the company’s network of games for weeks. We caught up with Smedley at the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) video game conference in Los Angeles. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

GamesBeat Weekly Roundup

If you follow VentureBeat but don’t regularly check our GamesBeat site, here’s a list of the best games stories we ran over the last seven days that you may have missed.

Sony launches free-to-play online world Free Realms on PlayStation 3

Finishing a big conversion effort, Sony Online Entertainment today launched its fantasy-themed Free Realms online game on the PlayStation 3. The title is the first free-to-play massively multiplayer online game launched on any game console, and it means that Sony can now introduce its pay-as-you-go business model to console gamers.

KingsIsle launches a new world for Wizard 101 and a $39 gift card

Online game companies have to be crafty about getting new users while hanging on to the ones they already have. So KingsIsle Entertainment is launching a new world today as part of an expansion aimed at hanging on to the fans who have participated in its previous Wizard 101 online virtual fantasy world. The company is also launching a $39 gift card on Nov. 1 that will be available in GameStop stores and can be used to purchase cool virtual items in the game.