Battlefield X360 Beta Reveals Pay-to-Play Weaponry

By Aaron Linde, Mar 21, 2008 2:56pm PDT A glance at the unlockable arsenal in the newly released beta for EA DICE's Battlefield: Bad Company (PS3, X360) reveals weapons will be up for purchase on the Xbox Live Marketplace, Game|Life reports.

The Unlocks section of the game's menu system lists a variety of weapons, ten of which read "buy this weapon on Xbox Live Marketplace" when highlighted. The game also displays a model of the weapon which can be rotated and viewed at any angle, leading some to speculate that the weapons are already packed in the game data.

While many elements in the beta versions of many titles are often changed or scrapped prior to retail release, the inclusion of a microtransaction seems an unlikely candidate for overhaul as Bad Company nears its June release.

Another EA DICE online shooter, Battlefield Heroes (PC), was recently confirmed to include microtransactions to support its free-to-play pricing structure.

Shacknews has reached EA for comment, but the company has not responded as of this writing.

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46 Threads* | 129 Comments

  • Once computer and console games started generating huge sales it was only a matter of time before marketing hounds and big business infiltrated the industry and schemed up ways to eek every last dollar out of players' wallets.

    On the PC side, first it was pay-to-test where unfinished products were released on unsuspecting consumers who fired up the product only to find they'd basically paid the developer to do what used to be something developers had to pay people to do. Namely, beta testing. These games were then finished via patches, often months after RTM.

    That eventually evolved to what we saw with more recent games like Supreme Commander, where there first comes a "public beta test" at a stage that the industry would have once considered alpha material. The result of this alpha testing was a beta that was RTM'd and hit store shelves. Then customers not only got lured into paying to beta test their product (which has now in some ways become the industry norm), but the final product was not implemented via patches, no, it was subsequently released as a sequel you had to - wait for it - pay full price for again.

    And marketers soon learned that was the final straw for a fair number of consumers. They could be tricked into paying the company for what the company used to have to pay people to do, but not so many could be tricked into then paying a second time to actually get the finished product.

    Meanwhile pay-per-month multiplayer gaming schemes were piloted with MMOs and shown to be so successful that they became an industry unto themselves and every company had to have one, or at least 'leak' news that they're working on one or even just "considering" making one. Let's face it, if you weren't, if you didn't, you were behind the times and that's no good when you're looking for vencap to support your company's next project - er, I mean next big hit.

    On the console front, pay-per-month took the form of XBox Live. That then evolved with the Marketplace on the 360, which introduced large scale pay-for-content, where you had to open up your wallet to access what used to be content either included in the original product or offered as free downloads post-release.

    Most today are likely too young to remember the PC game developers in the '90s who released extra maps, campaigns, units, weaponry, etc, for months after the initial release of a product. Then again, back then they were in it because they loved what they were doing and they actually wanted to play the games they designed and developed. Now it's just a money-making industry that provides a paycheck. Yet interestingly enough, the ones who made great games back then had no problem making big bucks without the help of customer-unfriendly marketing schemes like pay-for-content or recurring charges. Instead it almost seems to have paralleled the music industry, where it was a flood of mediocre content that drove both the shrinking of profits and the growth of piracy. But that's a tangent for another day.

    The next logical step in the drive to test just how far business can squeeze wallets before the mindless masses can put together a coherent thought to say "enough" is with pay-per-item, where you pay to buy parts of the very essence of the game itself. They'll argue that you don't have to lay out your money for the "extra" content - the upgraded or superior weaponry and equipment in this case - (and they'll always be sure to have a relatively functional product outside of all of the purchasable content so they will be semantically correct) but we all know that when everyone else is running around with the hot stuff, you're essentially forced to acquire it too if you want to have any fun, let alone be competitive. The design of such a scheme is based on leveraging mental concepts like peer pressure and keeping up with the Joneses, as well as basic gameplay realities like survival of the fittest. Marketers are keenly aware of the impact of those paradigms in multiplayer gaming and how they generate sales from people who would otherwise be reluctant to partake in such a scheme, so marketers are doing what they do best: Taking full advantage of all of the above.

    gg big business, you win. You're destroying another industry by raping the consumer.

  • If I could offer a different perspective on the whole sitch (short (and awesome) for 'situation'), downloadable content puts more green in the blue (More money in the jeans) of devs, ultimately. Now, I have my qualms with capitalism just like everyone else, but don't we want the people who make the things we love (And invest a ton of time into) to have more money, so they can make more things that we love? I mean, if this kind of thing bothers you, just don't buy the weapons. It's not like a few extra rounds or a higher cyclic rate is really going to make THAT much of a diff. I remember the uproar against unlockable weapons because people who decided to grid had an edge. WTF do you people want?