Saturday, October 28, 2006

Paying for unlocks

There’s been lots of discussion about what game companies are charging for additional content on Xbox Live and future plans for the PS3 and Wii networks. Up until a few weeks ago, the most outrageous content was several bucks for some horse armor. It has since escalated to odd items like a new stadium and video tutorials. I say odd because these are traditionally things included in the game for free.

I think there’s going to be a very ugly period where we see some ridiculous attempts at gouging gamers, but it’ll all settle into something that works. Remember the early days of UMD movies? Those damn things were flying off the shelves at the same price of DVDs, but with far fewer features and crap picture quality. Well, the novelty wore off and now the format is just about dead. Unlike UMDs, digital purchases, micro-transactions or whatever you want to call it are here to stay. It’s a solid concept that gamers have embraced up to a point and would continue to do so with the right pricing and products.

EA recently announced plans to allow people to buy items in Tiger Woods that would take a long time to obtain in-game. Now I’ve spent more than a fair amount of time unlocking extra costumes and such items are rarely given out through normal cheat codes. You almost always have to earn them. In these specific cases, I might be tempted to purchase an unlock. It really depends on the game, amount of unlocks, amount of work required to obtain items for free, and how much is being charged.

Let’s take the original DOAXVB for example. After a while, it became very tedious to earn enough money to buy items and swimsuits. It was an endless repeat of volleyball, pool hopping, and gambling. That’s definitely a situation where I might have caved. Rumble Roses XX is another good example. There is a ton of match grinding you have to do for each character and it’s way too much. I only completely had access to one wrestlers outfit selection (you have to meet requirements to make certain costumes purchasable), and even then it wasn’t worth the trouble of collecting enough money to buy everything.

DOAX2 seems like it will be a different story though. The variety of money earning activities is much greater and gambling looks like it’ll be a lot more interesting. Plus, the frustrating system where the girls would throw away expensive bikinis has been altered to make things a bit easier. Although there are a ton of outfits and items, I usually buy only the stuff I like anyway. A recent interview in Famitsu supposedly confirmed that some Gravure scenes will be purchasable on Live, but they can be obtained through the game. Hmmmm…..