The advent of DLC and microtransactions courtesy of the current generation of console and PC games is a mixed bag. While it's allowed for Play4Free games and additional content through DLC, it's also made the acquisition of the "full" game experience a costly affair as many developers embrace the incentive of launching games with pieces removed, and charging for them separately afterward (see: Gears of War 3 weapon skins and DLC).
When it comes to microtransactions and virtual currency, we're now seeing in-game digital items get real-world monetary values, something that never existed years ago. EVE Online developer CCP plans to introduce this evolution of gaming to the consoles with the upcoming shooter, DUST 514.
As any savvy PC gamer and subscriber of EVE Online knows, CCP Games has worked with players to shape the development and gameplay of EVE for years. Player protests have altered plans of the developers and a player-run council is integral in all big decisions involving the game.
To continue offering games as "services" and to keep players deeply involved in defining the gaming experience and in shaping the evolution of the game, CCP are planning on doing the same with their imminent jump into the console market.
Newly hired marketing guru for CCP, David Reid, has been brought in specifically to plan out the relase of DUST 514, an entirely original game coming exclusive to PS3 gamers wholly unfamiliar with EVE Online.
Their goal is to get players involved on the PS3, as much as they have been for years with EVE Online, so much so that not only are they involved in game development, but they've taken it upon themselves to build mobile apps and expand the experience in ways the developer never predicted.
"There’s iOS apps too. There’s Eve Universe for iPad, there’s apps for iPhone. These aren’t our apps — we haven’t made them. It’s on us as a company to follow through on this. We can’t say we don’t want to make an Android app because we as a company don’t want to. It doesn’t really matter what we want at this point. People have had a desire to build their own, and 100,000 people have downloaded it.
There’s a great number of amazing apps developed by the community, and this is all through a relatively simple gateway. Compare that to the gateway we’re about to open with Dust… We want to give the application developers more help in building their apps and their own Eve products."
DUST 514 is an extremely important game to Sony, not just because of its exclusivity on the PlayStation 3, but how it's going to be the first game to implement virtual currency and profits that'll be split between CCP and Sony.
"Yes and they haven’t done anything like this before. We’re having many meetings with them to ensure they have solid policies on virtual currency. Given the amount of back and forth there, we can definitely see us breaking new ground."
As for how DUST 514 will work cross-platform with the PC-only EVE Online:
"Yeah. There will be able to communicate on our social network. We already have cross-game text chat working, and we’re looking into cross game voice chat too. There are also more structured engagement between Dust and Eve players in terms of in game mission contracts going back and forth. We also have a huge commitment to orbital bombardment [laughs menacingly].
Our aim is that Dust is a fantastic experience for the Eve Online community. I mean the Eve community is so engaged with us.
If you look at the Eve protests last summer, that shows how much customers can react to business decisions, and the standard they hold developers too. At the time we were not living up to that standard — they are the first ones to tell us if our game is doing something wrong."
While DUST 514 drops the subscription fees that EVE Online employs, it does force players to buy the game, then buy a "cover charge" which converts to in-game currency. How fans react to this both in the short and long term, will undoubtedly have an affect on the pricing model going forward.
Fore more on DUST 514, read the full interview at Develop, which also includes information on how DUST 514 will be continuously updated like EVE Online and how since it's coming late in the PS3's life, it could also be reworked for PS4 where players could play cross-platform between the two. And for more on gameplay details:
- The weapons of DUST 514.
- DUST 514 vehicle customization.
- Player and Dropsuit customization in DUST 514.
- E3 2011 DUST 514 preview.