In Gears of War 2, players could level up by playing multiplayer, gaining experience through killing, winning and executing. With a max rank of 100, it’s almost impossible to do without the bonus XP weekends, but the best part of leveling up is that players earn… well, nothing?

Unlike Call of Duty where players unlock weapons, skins, attachments, killstreaks and more as they play more online, Gears of War 2 gave players nothing to strive for other than digit beside their name. Gears of War 3 strives to rectify this by allowing players to unlock character and weapon skins, along with execution moves. But not all weapon skins can be unlocked through buying the game and playing it a lot. No, players will have to pay real money to buy in-game weapon skins, content that was already built in for the game pre-launch.

For a game which arguably gives gamers the best value for their buck this year thanks to the inclusion of a larger campaign and so many multiplayer options, news that players will have to succumb to microtransactions to acquire all of Gears of War 3‘s content is such an unnecessary bit of bad news.

When reviewing Gears of War 3 and looking for changes from the multiplayer beta, we saw the large amount of skins selectable for the weapons. The majority of these had a little cash ($) symbol on them which quickly turned smiles upside down. It didn’t detract from the game’s quality in anyway and we gave it a 5/5, but it did make us question what was going on with the skins.

Rod Fergusson, Director of Production at Epic Games, has been fielding lots of questions (and angst) from gamers questioning Epic about the pre-planned and already-included DLC that we’ll have to pay for and this brings up the never-ending issue of DLC being used as an excuse from publishers and developers to intentionally leave out content and charge for them after.

Fergusson explains that the multiplayer skins are “optional” but if they couldn’t charge for the separately, guess what? They’d be in the $60 retail game. They are not accessibly any other way and are locked unless you pay real money.

Fergusson explains that they will be available on day 1 when Gears of War 3 launches next week and that all of them will be available for a bulk purchase. Epic has not answered however, if fans who pay the $30 for the Gears of War 3 season pass will get the skins as well. Imagine if they do not, though?

Gears of War 3 Weapon Skins

You have to pay for these weapon skins

Prices for the skins, simple digital textures on guns, have not been announced so we can’t judge how much players will be ripped off who decide to purchase the skins, but we can say that this is a wasted opportunity on the part of Epic Games.

Why not instead of charging for something gamers shouldn’t have to pay for, we make this content unlockable by playing the game and being a loyal fan of the franchise? Let’s instead make these additional skins reward for hitting certain levels or accomplishing certain achievements in-game? Remember, the people being charged are already the ones who are paying big money to play the game, as good as it is.

DLC is only getting worse. Here’s a list of the paid DLC skins:

  • Garish (flower print)
  • Arctic Camo
  • Blood
  • Child’s Play
  • Deadly Cute (hot pink gradient)
  • Desert Camo
  • Desert Digital
  • Electric
  • Flower (pink)Haze (smoke effect)
  • Imulsion (glowing radiation effect)
  • Jungle Digital Camo
  • Thunderstorm (animated)
  • Ocean (waves)
  • Oil Slick (dark waves)
  • Team Pulse (red/blue depending on team)
  • Rainbow
  • Team Distress (red/blue cracks, depending on team)
  • Team Metal (red/blue, depending on team)
  • Tiger Stripe
  • Tribal
  • Urban Digital

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

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Source: MTV