Dead Space 3 uses micro-transactions to top up your in-game currency – you’ll know this. Basically if you don’t have enough resources in your inventory to spec out your next weapon, you can use real cash to buy your way through the obstruction. Will this affect the game’s ‘regular’ gameplay routes, or will this (possible) circumvention spoil the flow?
In an interview with CVG, Dead Space 3 producer John Calhoun seems to think that because it’s optional, nobody really needs to be too concerned. But he also says that this method of progressing in a game is well known to smartphone gamers (indeed, he’s absolutely right) and wants to try to echo some of that with Dead Space 3.
The issue, as previously highlighted, is that smartphone games tend to cost a quid or so, if they’re not free. Dead Space costs £50.
“Not much has been spoken about that,” he says, referring to the micro-transactions applicable when on the in-game workbench, “but I can tell you the details now. The way the micro-transactions work, is that there’s only three things that you can buy, and they’re basically tiers of different resources. Resources are extremely valuable in Dead Space – we got rid of credits entirely. Everything that you can find in the game can be constructed from resources, which includes Tungsten, Semi-Conductors, Somatic Gel.”
“Combining these in different ways will create either a weapon part, an ammo pack or an upgrade to Isaac’s suit. There’s a lot of players out there, especially players coming from mobile games, who are accustomed to micro-transactions. They’re like ‘I need this now, I want this now’. They need instant gratification. So we included that option in order to attract those players, so that if they’re 5000 Tungsten short of this upgrade, they can have it.”
Thankfully, Dead Space 3 is also hoping to appeal to regular console gamers not used to this way of thinking. Calhoun concedes that most of the dev team are “hardcore Dead Space players, who are reluctant to spend money outside the purchase of the game,” so everything can still be achieved with whatever resources are available in-game.
Calhoun is keen to address the inevitable accusations that this model is simply “pay to win,” gouging customers and devaluing the accomplishment of beating the game. He says “We would never make a game you have to pay to win. There are genres of games where that is the answer, and you know what? The world has spoken, they suck.” But he also acknowledges the desire to make games that people “keep on their shelves.”
Wether or not microtransactions will make Dead Space 3 more attractive to the legions of gamers more used to the smartphone model remains to be seen. It’s difficult to imagine that, in the comparison between an AppStore game and a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 game, it’s the microtransactions which are putting off mobile phone fans. Surely it’s much more logical to think that the price of entry being between ten and sixty times greater than that of paid smartphone games is a bigger discouragement.