John Calhoun on Dead Space 3 Microtransactions

CVG interviewed John Calhoun, producer for Dead Space 3, a couple of weeks ago focusing on the topics of 'asymmetric dementia' and the micro-transactions found in Dead Space 3. The full article can be found here, but I'll be focusing on the latter half of the interview.

First thing's first, I'm not going to really get into the day 1 DLC discussion for actual content, but feel free to hop down to the comments and start that discussion. I'm going to be focusing on some pull-quotes in reference to the justification of micro-transactions in games.

"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."

I think it's a sad state of affairs in which a game that has a component revolving around scrounging around for resources needs to cater to/act like a Facebook or mobile game that utilizes gating elements and IAPs to minimize the amount of game they need to play to get from point A to point B. Boxes and Necromorphs are terribly difficult to stomp on, after all.

"Before you guys showed up I was reading the Eurogamer article, that argued that it's a slippery slope, that if you put micro-transactions in Dead Space, aren't you just saying you can pay to win? We would never make a game you have to pay to win."

The point isn't that a game or Dead Space 3 in particular isn't making you have to pay to win, it's that you can pay to win. Furthermore, it's placed in the game world, bridging reality to the environment you're extending yourself to and popping that suspension of disbelief bubble if you give it any thought.

Not to mention on this cold remote ice planet, if things hit the fan, you can just ring in for a nice supply package drop of resources to bolster your offense and defense.

"There are action game fans, and survival horror game fans, who are 19 and 20, and they've only played games on their smartphones, and micro-transactions are to them a standard part of gaming."

If these theoretical 19 and 20 year olds exist and have only played games on their smartphones, how exactly are they going to play Dead Space 3? Is iPad or iPhone a secret launch platform? Android? I think I'm pretty accurate in saying that anyone that is purchasing Dead Space 3 isn't brand new to console gaming.

I think the concept that micro-transactions are becoming a standard part of gaming is more due to the idiocy of consumers, in general, who are willing to let publishers give their wallets the raw deal, rather than speaking with our buying power and showing them that these shenanigans are unacceptable -- Because whinging about it on a forum or game site, while giving in, isn't going to solve the problem and make publishers say "Oh, they don't like the fact we're screwing them in the bank account." but will make them say "Money! Money! Money! Loads of money!"

Mind you, these day 1 DLCs and micro-transactions are in addition to the full retail price you would be paying, if you pick up the game near release. It's more reasonable to people when their game is free or dollar or three, but when you're paying full price... Well that's a different story and to me it just comes off as trying to gouge money out of your shee- consumers, no matter how you try and justify it.

What's your take on this, Polynauts?

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