Copius Amounts of Dusty items then…

This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss EVE/DUST514 development.

Well Fanfest is coming and it looks like CCP are starting the media warm-up a little early.  First landmark statement; Dust514 will be ‘completely free‘.  And then there’s this article which expands on that a bit with a clarification;

There was going to be a $10 to $20 cover charge for the game on PSN, but that has now been scrapped.

“It was a relatively confusing proposition,” executive producer Brandon Laurino explained to Eurogamer, “and we wanted to make it unambiguous that this is a free-to-play game.”

This sounds like a good move by CCP’s new marketing head honcho.  Vy making Dust514 totally free to try, far more players are likely to try it out.  And once you get lots of people trying it, you will of course hopefully convert a good-sized number of them into regular, or at least semi-regular players.  This has worked for Valve with Team Fortress 2 on PC, there’s good reason to think it could work on PS3 for CCP.

Also in that Eurogamer article are a few hints at what Dust’s micro-transaction offering might be.  These items available include;

*vanity goods to customise appearances with

*variants of weapons that aren’t necessarily more powerful – “side-grades” that look or play differently

*boosters that save time, such as double skill point (SP) boosters

*services like character respecs

*and lucky dip treasure boxes.

Interesting list.  vanity goods being on offer was a given and is a safe bet.  They don’t impact game balance but players like customization and are willing to pay.  The weapons variants are the more dicey prospect, if you offer weapons that can only be earned for cash, there is the very real risk that they become over-powered in order to entice sales, and that can potentially be game breaking.

CCP will have to tread carefully on that, if they err more on the side of cosmetically different guns then its safely on the vanity item list, if the ‘plays differently’ part starts to unlock the dreaded “win button” combo’s then it will be on CCP to address the issue else alienate their more casual prospective players.

*boosters that save time, such as double skill point (SP) boosters

*services like character respecs

Now those are interesting additions.  In last summer’s firestorm or player outrage over micro-transactions in EVE, one of the options that CCP were rumoured to be considered charging for (this was as part of a leaked internal debate on EVE’s future MT strategy, now scrapped) was additional neural re-maps.  For any non-EVE players,  an eve character is allowed to periodically redistribute the attributes used for skill training in order to optimise their training times towards a goal.

I suspect that a ‘character respec’ might be an option to redistribute skill points from a trained skill to something new.  This has been discussed for EVE before and might have become part of the EVE MT strategy had CCP continued with it.  If so, this will be an interesting addition for Dust to see how it plays out.  The accelerated training booster idea is also interesting, this might be something in place of EVE-style attribute enhancing implants which are functionally similar, but may even be in addition to implants for the power-gamer types.

The last item on that list is pure Team Fortress; ‘lucky dip treasure boxes’.  I wonder if they’ll randomly drop in games like TF2’s crates allowing you to go buy a key to open it.  Only it would be a ‘one-use decryption key’. 😉

There are a couple of other interesting comments in there, such as the claim that CCP have ‘nearly a thousand’ micro-transaction items made and ready to go.  So unlike EVE’s disastrous NeX Store, CCP will be launching Dust514 with a well-stocked shop of hundreds of items.  By comparison, the NeX store had fewer than ten.

And then there is this final little gem that fills my jaded heart with a glimmer of hope:

The price of items can start as low as “a penny sort of value”. How high they can go Laurino wouldn’t say – mentioning only the bundled currency packs. But “nothing is off the table” in terms of item price limit and what Sony will allow, we were told. And there’s a “gigantic range”.

CCP might actually have learned something from their mistakes made with Incarna and launching micro-transactions to EVE.  They are offering an actual selection, and by the sounds of it at genuinely lower price points.

Although, if they really did go as low as a penny, it makes me wonder what sort of item they’d be selling.  Actual golden bullets to kill your enemy with pointless bling? 😉

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