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Universe at Price War

Oo-la

Who knows how the current trend for free-to-play games (including Quake Live, below) will eventually pan out, but us gamers can at least reap the benefits of publishers’ mad money-juggling experiments in the meantime. The latest announcement is a mystery new game from Petroglyph, they of Universe at War (quite good) and Star Wars: Empire At War (not quite as good), and who famously have a few of the original C&C chaps amongst their noble number.

No idea what the game will be as yet, and I’m only presuming it’s an RTS based on their track record, but it’ll be funded by micro-payments (which are like money, but with a different name), and will be published by new firm True Games. So, wait, all the other games are false?

Gamesindustry.biz has a few further details. While UAW wasn’t exactly a runaway success on PC, Empire at War did pretty well, and UAW is now also out on 360, so we’re presumably not talking about a developer who’s taking weird risks cos they’ve fallen on hard times. It’s thus an interesting move for a big studio to make – DICE at least has the near-infinite coffers of its owner EA to fall back on if Battlefield Heroes doesn’t pay off – which hints we know only a fraction of the story.

Can a free-to-play RTS work? Does the very concept of being supported by micropayments hint at horrific imbalances in favour of the more monied? Or could Petrogylph be trying out an MMO instead? Why am I asking so many questions? Why is caviar so expensive? And will there ever be a boy who can swim faster than a shark?

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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