Monetizing a game beyond its $60 price tag has, for several years now, become one of the key goals amongst developers — with many using what are commonly known as microtransactions to urge gamers to put more money into the game in exchange for better in-game goods. It's quite the tricky move, and can be wholly off-putting to gamers who see beyond the "incentives," but has become almost essential for triple-A titles.
One of the most egregious examples of microtransactions being used to "improve" the player's experience can be found in Mass Effect 3's multiplayer, where players were urged to use real money to purchase random weapon and item packs. Granted these could also be purchased using Mass Effect 3's in-game currency, but allowing players to use real money for quicker access rubbed many the wrong way.
Well, it looks like publisher Electronic Arts (who put out Mass Effect 3) are at it again, as it has just been discovered their forthcoming title, Dead Space 3, will support microtransactions. How they will come into play is slightly different than Mass Effect 3, though, as the purchases will be based around the game's weapon crafting system.
One of the many unique features in Dead Space 3 — apart from the new icy setting and co-op mode — is the ability to craft weapons using parts found throughout the game's levels. However, if a player failed to come across a part, and did not want to seek it out using the game's scavenger bots, they can cut out the middleman (and the time) and simply purchase a DLC pack that gives them the part or resource.
Eurogamer discovered the devious little microtransaction trick when trying to craft a weapon without the necessary resource. If the resource is not in the player's inventory a screen pops up that says: "Cannot craft. Additional resources required." And below that message is the option to purchase downloadable content.
Dead Space 3 Associate Producer Yara Khoury further confirmed the feature, but stressed that real money are not necessary for the weapon crafting there is actual a system put in place — the aforementioned server bots — that players can use to find all the resources they need. In essence, the microtransaction is optional, and nothing is locked beyond a pay wall.
Khoury also explained that it is not possible simply to buy the best weapon in the game outright and thereby have a less stressful experience fighting through waves of necromorphs. Many of the weapon parts will actually unlock as the story progresses, however they will be available at the start of a New Game Plus.
While microtransactions are still hard to swallow there are smart applications of the feature and those that are seen as little more than money grabs. Dead Space 3's microtransactions appear to be relatively inoffensive, but having the option to purchase a better weapon, and by extension a potentially easier experience, will certainly rub some gamers the wrong way.
What do you think of the way Dead Space 3 uses microtransactions? Would you be apt to pay a little extra for a more powerful/useful weapon?
Dead Space 3 releases February 5, 2013 for the PS3, PC, and Xbox 360.
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