Xbox One launch title Ryse: Son of Rome will include the ability to speed up equipment unlocks in the game's cooperative multiplayer by spending real world cash, but the team behind the game says it's designed not to allow players to buy their way to victory.
"The whole idea of the micro-monetization thing is that it's trying to give an option to people who want to trade a couple of bucks for a couple of hours," said Erik Olsen, Ryse's multiplayer producer.
The microtransactions, which aren't available in the game's single-player campaign, allow gamers to directly purchase booster packs of armor or gold that can be combined with in-game gold to purchase those packs. The booster packs, which can also be purchased with the gold earned through play, each contain an assortment of loot. No matter how they are purchased, all booster packs — which the developers compared to Mass Effect 3's unlocks and packs in FIFA: Ultimate Team — are guaranteed to contain rare items.
There are more than 700 pieces of armor divided up across five tiers. The multiplayer character's level is essentially tied to their gear. As they progress they unlock new tiers of armor which can then be purchased through cash or gold.
The game will also allow players to buy purely aesthetic items for their gladiator, things that won't impact gameplay.
While cash can be used to purchase armor, a player will have to unlock the tier before they can buy items from it, Olsen said.
Balancing in the game isn't finished yet, but currently a character who has unlocked everything in a tier is about twice as powerful as one who hasn't locked anything, Olsen said.
"We were really cautious about how this will be used," said Justin Robey, senior producer at Microsoft. "We designed it for players who might be really close to finishing a tier and really don't want to wait to unlock new items."
Gold, the free currency that can be used to purchase those gear upgrades, is earned during the game's multiplayer combat, via the game's single-player campaign and through single-player challenges.
The title tracks your progression through a game, when you pass a friend's progress in the campaign it rewards you with gold.