The are a few absolute certainties in life outside of death, taxes and overpriced console DLC, the latter of which Epic Games is attempting become a leader in. It began with the Gears of War 3 season pass which offers gamers all of the four pre-planned upcoming DLC packs for a “discounted” price of $30, i.e. half the price of the retail game. Without knowing exactly what is in this DLC, paying 50% more than the retail price of the game is a tough pill to swallow, even if it is cheaper than buying them individually – it just emphasizes that it’s all too expensive to begin with.

The costs to gamers for the Gears of War 3 DLC, should they choose to purchase it, reached a bit of a fever pitch over the weekend when we and other media outlets started talking about the weapon skin micro-transactions we found in-game. Gears of War 3 Director Rod Fergusson explained what these are all about and more importantly, how much they will cost.

There are 7 sets of weapon skins that come with the game and each set represents that skin for all five weapons (lancer, retro lancer, hammerburst, shotgun and sawed-off shotgun). Some of these could be unlocked through playing the Gears of War 3 multiplayer beta, others are earned through in-game accomplishments.

When you purchase the game yourself – it releases on Tuesday and you should (read our Gears of War 3 review to see why) – you’ll notice that in the multiplayer menu when picking the character and weapons of choice for multiplayer, there will be many, many more skins, all overlayed with a cash ($) symbol. These additional skins, 21 sets in total, are built into the retail version of the game but not usable without forking over money which brings us to the main issue at hand. Here are the prices of buying the weapon skins packs individually, static or animated, and in sets.

  • One skin pack (all five weapons) with static texture: 240 MSP/$3.00
  • One skin pack (all five weapons) with animated texture: 320 MSP/$4.00
  • One weapon pack (one weapon, all 21 skins): 1200 MSP/$15.00
  • All skins bundle: 3600 MSP/ $45.00

Note: The Gnasher and Sawed-off shotguns are combined for the weapon pack.

Yes, for friggin’ weapon skins, users will pay $45.00 to unlock all of them, and that’s the bulk discount. Weapon skins! How much do these cost to produce related to the retail game that costs $60.00?

Gears of War 3 Weapon Skins

Take a mortgage out for these skins

To put this in perspective, players can buy the complete Gears of War 3 weapon skin set, or for a cheaper price, they can buy the Gears of War 1 & 2 bundle with all DLC. This is what we call a rip-off and there’s no way around it.

To be clear, these microtransaction skins are purely cosmetic and are totally optional. For that reason, we recommend you do not purchase them. It sets an awful precedent where with each new game, more and more is left out so it can be charged for separately, and of course, there is absolutely no option to customize your own weapons skin a la Call of Duty: Black Ops.

If you’re paying $60 for the game, paying the “discounted” $75 for all of the DLC is ridiculous, optional or not (The Gears of War 3 season pass does not include these 21 weapon skins, but will include others). It’s too much and these skins should be rewarded for paying for the game and playing it online. Maybe Gears of War 4 will charge for bullets fired? Reloads optional.

Gears of War 3 releases September 20, 2011, exclusively for the Xbox 360. Click here for midnight launch event info.

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