Pay As You Churn: Dead Space 3’s Microtransactions

By Adam Smith on January 22nd, 2013 at 12:00 pm.

Remember how in the previous Dead Space games, the only way to buy new weapons, armour, ammo and medkits was to stomp on the gooey remains of malformed mutants and catch the credits that they had stashed in their internal organs? Those were the good old days. Eurogamer spotted a “downloadable content” pop-up during Dead Space 3’s all-new crafting sections and the game’s associate producer, Yara Khoury, has now confirmed to our EG chums that it will be possible to pay real money to improve weaponry:

“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.”

The answer to the question, “Please, sir, can I have some Ishi-more-a?”, is “Yes, but keep your credit card handy.”

When I played a preview build of the game, crafting items did drop from enemies but the actual system wasn’t ready for use, so it wasn’t clear whether it would involve interesting modifications or simple stat boosts. It’s probably going to be a mix of the two, with one screenshot showing an engineered safety guard that prevents splash damage. Whatever the final cost of these crafting kits (they may be macrotransactions, we don’t know!) and however powerful the buffs they provide, I can’t see a positive reason for their inclusion, except for their role as a way for EA to catch the money that people hurl at their screens.

If it’s necessary to have modified gear to succeed then scavenging for parts could become a grindy, horrible mess – and not the good sort of grindy horrible mess which involves Isaac’s boot grinding a necromorph into jam. The transaction then becomes a payment to avoid tedium. Or it may be that the crafted upgrades are more of a leveller, easing progress through the game’s more tricky sections for those who want a helping hand. That’s fine but it’s also often dealt with through a choice of difficulty levels and those (at least the easier ones) shouldn’t cost money or time to unlock.

Somebody gifted me a deluxe/limited/pre-order edition of Dead Space 2 before it was released and I was genuinely dismayed to find that their good intentions had provided me with a version of the game that handed me free late-level equipment from the start. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want that, in a game where desperation and inventory progression are so well linked, and so much a part of the experience. I ignored the free stuff and refused to use it, and I’ll do the same in Dead Space 3, but ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. The entire crafting system is new and I’m suspicious of any system that I can pay to skip past, particularly in a game where pacing should be at the forefront of design.

It won’t be possible to buy all of the high-end equipment on the first level – “There are a lot of weapon parts that are only available to buy later in the game. Unless you’re playing through it again [on New Game Plus]” – but the rationing out of purchases doesn’t particularly ease the discomfort. I’ve already seen people defending the decision by referring to people who don’t have as much time to play and might want to see all of the upgraded equipment. It’s alarming that asking those same people to pay more than the retail price for the privilege is seen as a kindness. Give them a cheat code!

I enjoyed the time I spent with the game, though not without reservations, but this news has made me grumpy. As much as anything, it’s a huge leap from the first game’s unusual and admirable approach to equipment, which allowed no possibility for the player to upgrade everything on a single playthrough. In the Ishimura’s flickering corridors, players had to pick their poison and adjust to what was at hand rather than carrying the best weaponry available into every fight.

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  1. mseifullah says:

    This was already done in the original Dead Space AND in Dead Space 2. Yes, there has been an in-game store since the start of the game series. The difference is that they just limited it your equippable suits or RIG’s as they’re called in the Dead Space-verse. But even then, the RIG’s would affect your inventory space. damage resistance (one RIG offered a baseline of 60% damage resistance), and add extra damage when wielding certain guns. These were suits that you had to pay real money to purchase. For reference, see:

    http://deadspace.wikia.com/wiki/Store#Downloadable_Content

    Naturally, with the new crafting system, they saw fit to expand the in-game store from the previous games to include crafting components.

    Now, I’m not excusing this in the least. I think it’s a downright stupid thing, and if they gimp the game to the point of actually making the store an attractive offering then they’ve shown that their greed truly knows no bounds. However, the point I’m making is that we should have collectively raged about this travesty when Dead Space 2 was released. And for the people that are saying to themselves “I didn’t even know there was a real-money store in Dead Space and Dead Space 2″ I say to you: if you didn’t even realize that the previous games had a real-money store, isn’t it possible that Dead Space 3’s store will be just as invisible and unobtrusive? Considering that this is technically nothing new to Dead Space, and that no one has complained before, let’s give this “news” the benefit of the doubt.

    With that said, for the people crazy enough to defend this kind of behavior from the developer/publisher with the excuse that “it helps save time for those that don’t have as much,” I will ask the question that others have posed: So what’s wrong with giving those people free cheat codes? Or having them voluntarily lower the difficulty? Or offering them the impossible to miss glowing objects and “hints?” And finally, for what it’s worth, why would you spend money on a full-priced game that you don’t have time to play or enjoy? And why would you happily pay even more to essentially play less? That’s what Steam/Amazon/GMG/etc. sales are for.

    P.S.: Here’s an idea: How about some games include a secondary difficulty option that let’s you choose how short or long you want the game experience to last? That way, this unvoiced mass that have loads of money but that also don’t have enough time can just choose the experience that suits them best.

    • Shooop says:

      Never played 2.

      Was this “feature” announced to the public though? How’d everyone miss it the first time around?

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        It became a pretty well-known option shortly after the game was released. It was never really hinted at before that, which leads me to believe that EA were testing the waters with a Dead Space item store and wanted to see what the reaction would be with the game’s core fanbase.

        I’m assuming enough people bough into it to make it worthy of more effort on EA’s part.

  2. anduin1 says:

    So will using a trainer or CheatEngine be considered in game piracy and possibly get me 5-7 years in jail?

  3. F3ck says:

    As they have moved further away from its single-player origins (pushing multi/co-op on us) so my interest has waned in this franchise…

    …my opinion is that there are few multiplayer games with worthwhile campaigns (i.e., the best SP experiences have no love for MP, and vice versa) and this game (at least the SP campaign) will suffer for it…

    …so this is just the icing being removed from a cake I’d already forgotten about…I’ll buy this for a dollar next year…and since I play all of my games offline it’ll be a non-issue.

    My feeling is that this series – like Far Cry, Crysis, etc. – is being be CoDied; more ultra-linear, extended cut-scenes, press-spacebar-to-survive, blockbuster-movie-games please…(sorry, out of hyphens)