Today’s news that EA’s Dead Space 3 wants to charge you real money to top up your in-game currency (commonly seen in free-to-play games) might not surprise anyone in particular but it’s a telling route down a line that’ll see publishers increasing their long-tail revenue well beyond that first week spike.
But don’t expect Isaac’s latest romp to be the only game that’ll feature this brand new, exciting way to spend more money on games. There’ll be more. Many more. Next gen will be full of them, so let’s take a moment to joyfully speculate what those games – and the dreaded in-app purchases – might be. Might. Don’t get your pants in a twist.
RACING IN AT NUMBER FIVE is Gran Turismo 6. Polyphony’s latest, currently assumed to be next-gen but could very well end up on an iPhone, will have ‘realistic’ petrol levels and – as a result – will require IAP (in-app purchase) top-ups every few laps. Run out of petrol? It’s 69p a tank, Jimmy. But don’t flaunt the flashing yellow light – if you run out on the tarmac it’ll cost £1.99 to get the engine cleaned and that’ll take a week in real-time unless you buy the £4.99 time booster.
AT NUMBER FOUR IS UNCHARTED FOUR which is going to bleed you dry with IAP ammo supplies. Unlike EA’s interstellar escapades with Isaac and chum, Drake’s rather more down-to-earth setting won’t charge you for guns (you’ll find them on the ground safely at the feet of dispatched flaming zombie guys) but you and that omnipresent old guy with the ‘tash will need to stop off to buy ammo at shops – two quid a box of shotgun shells, Guv. Find yourself short in the jungle? You’ll need to pay for a crate drop, too. And they won’t be cheap.
NUMBER THREE? KRATOS IS DEAD! Dead? Yep, you’ve lost all your vitality in God of War 4 and Santa Monica have helpfully popped up a little message that says if you want your last checkpoint back from the clutches of Hades (or, you know, whoever) it’s 69p. Don’t laugh – that exact same thing appeared last week in an iPhone game, although it didn’t feature a muscle-bound bloke in a loincloth. And speaking of clothing: the costumes will be a quid each, unless you want to scrape around looking for thread and cotton.
JUST IN AT NUMBER TWO is Sly Cooper 5. The wee guy needs to creep around but everyone knows next-gen isn’t just about Teraflops and 4K resolutions, it’s about realistic leather wear and tear. Those softly-softly shoes won’t last you more than a couple of levels before the helpful cobbler window appears and demands real-world pennies in exchange for his precious time (and cow hide). It’s a serious business, and unless you’ve upgraded to the Nike Super Stealth 500s, this will be a constant, nagging reminder.
AND THIS WEEK’S NUMBER ONE is MotorStorm 4. Those festival tickets the previous games handed out willy-nilly with barely any regard for the fact that such a practice is single-handedly responsible for the destruction of our rainforests? You’ll need to pony-up this time. Oh, sure, they’ll hook you in with the first couple for free, that’s always how it works, but by the time you’re three tracks in it’s £1 per race. Unless you win. Oh, the meltdown will be glorious.
Did we miss any?