Published on January 22nd, 2013 | by Fraser Brown10
Dead Space 3: Crafting with cash
Earlier today, the fine folks over at Eurogamer discovered a “feature” in Dead Space 3 that will allow players to put the pointless cash just sitting in their accounts to good use. Isaac Clarke’s latest action-packed, slightly scary (if you’re scared of things jumping out of air vents) outing includes optional micro-transactions in the crafting system. This definitely makes sense and is not in anyway a shameless cash grab formulated by greedy slug-people.
Eurogamer spotted this new feature during a recent hands-on session with the title. Upon trying to craft a weapon that required materials that had not been gathered, a message about downloadable content popped up. While these materials can be gathered in-game, a trip to the cash shop will provide them straight away — for a fee. To clarify, these are micro-transactions in the single-player portion of a premium game. Classier than a gent in a Savile Row suit, sipping expensive port, for sure.
Associate producer Yara Khoury explains, “You can buy resources with real money, but scavenger bots can also give you the currency that you can use on the marketplace. So you don’t have to spend [real world] dollars.” So at least they aren’t putting up a barrier that stops people from being able to access all the game’s content just for the cost of the game itself.
Big spenders cannot use their fat bank accounts to grab all the best weapons from the get-go, either. Some higher tier weapon parts are locked until players reach a certain point in the game, stopping players from becoming so powerful that it has a detrimental affect on the flow of the game.
What concerns me is not that people can throw their money at rubbish, that’s their business, it’s that it implies certain unfortunate things about the way the title has been designed. A well designed game shouldn’t need extra materials which you can buy with real money, it should provide enough materials so that players can upgrade at a rate consistent with the difficulty and pace of the game.
The existence of micro-transactions suggests that Visceral and EA will provide incentives for players to waste their cash, or a cash shop would serve no purpose at all. These incentives will inevitably affect the experience for all players; whether this means that there will be a lot of unpleasant grinding for resources or something even more insidious remains to be seen.
I can’t say I’m particularly fond of micro-transactions and throwaway DLC at the best of times, but when it has an impact on the core game rather than, say, the multiplayer portion, as in Mass Effect 3, it starts to border on a level of tastelessness that I’m not in the least bit comfortable with. On its own it may not seem like a “big deal”, but it says a lot about the mindset of the people developing the game and making the big decisions. I won’t write of a game that hasn’t even been released, but this may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Thankfully, I’m listening to a lot of Kiss right now, so I can’t get to angry about this giant joke.