Arguments about greed or nickel-and-dime pricing cast aside, paid DLC tends to be a dividing force in the multiplayer paradigm. As map packs or new game modes trickle out to join the ranks of a game’s original content, players unable – or unwilling – to hand over more cash are siphoned off into the Servers of the Have-Nots. The effect only multiplies as more purchase options come to market.

Starhawk developers LightBox Interactive and Sony Santa Monica say they were unhappy with the way this fragmentation played out in the game’s predecessor, Warhawk, and so as a new, somewhat unexpected measure for the air/ground warfare hybrid (which released on May 8th), all future map packs will be free. Much like the Rift energy coursing through the Frontier colony’s Outcasts, the community will stay connected no matter how far the game expands.

The announcement came courtesy of LightBox President Dylan Jobe on the PlayStation Blog (in the same post, Jobe also declared that Major League Gaming would be organizing a $20,000 tournament to coincide with the game’s launch). There aren’t many more ways to say it – but we’ll let his exuberance have its due:

Whenever we release a map pack you won’t have to pay a friggin’ dime!

Or a nickel. Or a penny. But of course, the real sentiment Jobe wanted to convey was his gratitude for those supporting the game:

This is our commitment to all of you, the players. I hope you all get a chance to enjoy Starhawk — not only with today’s retail release but for the months and years to come!

With gamers only beginning to plunge into Starhawk’s vehicular mayhem, on the heels of a long-running beta, you’d think LightBox would be content to let the announcement marinate for a while. Not so. Jobe went on to tease a set of screenshots for “Cyrpess” – the first map pack Starhawkers can expect to see, centering around a dilapidated research facility once used to study Rift Energy.

Starhawk Free Map Pack Cypress

LightBox and Sony Santa Monica built up a lot of goodwill for Starhawk when they opened their beta up to the masses this February, and it’s a wave they look to be riding for a long time as the game continues to evolve and manifest new creations for its PlayStation audience. Jobe did mention that paid DLC content was still in the pipeline, but it’s not yet clear which direction it will take; the safe assumption, however, seems to be that map packs are out of the paid-for picture.

Ranters, will free map packs – in an era where the term is usually restrained to a “content pass” or pre-order bonus – entice you to pick up a copy of Starhawk?

Starhawk is available now, exclusively for the PlayStation 3.

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Source: PlayStation Blog