CCP Games’ online first-person shooter for the PlayStation 3, Dust 514, has recently abandoned its “cover charge,” instead choosing to enter the free-to-play market. Executive Producer Brandon Laurino went on to offer reassurance to potential customers that Dust 514’s micro-transaction store wouldn’t be selling any items that offered any sort of advantage against other players, a problem that has plagued the free-to-play market.
An excerpt from his interview with Eurogamer:
“It’s very important as we take steps into this topic to unambiguously state that it is not a pay to win game. There is no micro-transaction that you can do that gives you an unfair advantage over someone who hasn’t paid anything. It’s the classic micro-transaction dynamic of, ‘I can pay and get this item,’ or, ‘I can invest my time and get this item.’ But neither of those options will give me an unfair advantage over the other.”
This follows news revealed by Laurino that Dust 514 already has approximately 1,000 micro-transaction items, although not all of them will be available right at launch. He also went on to say that CCP’s initial plan for players requiring to purchase a certain amount of in-game currency was “a relatively confusing proposition.” Prices are said to start at “a penny sort of value,” with Laurino also claiming that “nothing is off the table” in regard to the more expensive items.
Analysis: The free-to-play market must be quite a successful endeavor for developers given the sheer influx of titles that has adopted the strategy over the past few years, and consumers surely can’t complain with free content. I find CCP’s decision to be a smart one in general, as I imagine their initial plans would’ve confused a few consumers and seemed like a generally bad idea. One concern of mine, though, is that sometimes going free-to-play can have a hit on the quality of the game. However, I’m not too worried about the quality in the case of Dust 514.
I’m still weary about the sheer amount of purchasable items despite Mr. Laurino’s comments. The biggest problem that plagues these titles that go free-to-play is the balance between people who are willing to shell out cash and those who aren’t, and the unfair advantage this poses. If CCP can handle this issue as they’ve claimed, I see Dust 514 being a great addition to the free-to-play market.