Free-to-play Gun Bros unleashes $500 Kraken

By Jeff Mattas, Aug 03, 2011 6:45pm PDT

Glu, the developer behind the free-to-play multiplayer iOS title Gun Bros, has just given frightening new meaning to the mythological exclamation: "Unleash the Kraken!" The Kraken, in this case, is the name of the most powerful weapon in the game. Part missile-launcher and part laser-cannon, the Kraken lays waste to anything in its path. The catch? Purchasing the damn thing could cost suckers gamers up to $500-worth of real money.

For the uninitiated, Gun Bros is a top-down, twin-stick shooter featuring asynchronous co-op, and a recently added real-time multiplayer mode that supports WiFi and 3G. The game's hooks include daily challenges and dizzying amounts of upgrades to unlock.

As with many free-to-play titles, Gun Bros features in-game currency--called "war bucks," in this case--which can be accrued by either participating with Glu's advertising partners (like watching ads, or signing up for Netflix), or purchased with hard-earned real-world cash. Spending cash gives quicker access to items, but players with enough time and patience can get access to the same content without spending a dime. In other words, it's a fairly standard free-to-play business model.

Something that's anything but standard though, is the Kraken's price. As you can see, the Kraken (shown below) costs 3,499 "war bucks." The largest purchasable pack of "war bucks" from the Gun Bros in-game store is the "710 war buck pack," which means that someone would need buy five of said packs to meet the Kraken's 3,499 war buck price tag. The shocking part is that the "710 war buck packs" cost $99 each. Yes, you're reading that correctly: Five hundred dollars for a virtual gun. Adding a bit of insult to injury, mobile gaming site TouchArcade notes that the price of the Kraken was actually raised from its initial 1,400 "war buck" price (which still amounted to about $200 of real-world cash).

Now, I've never played Gun Bros, so I can't really comment on its overall quality or fun-factor. However, as much as I love video games, I can't imagine spending anywhere near that much real money on an in-game item. As ultimately silly as the initiative may seem, it's also hard to knock Glu for its attempt to prey on rich idiots. They're a business, trying to make a buck.

Concerning those who actually spend $500 of real money on virtual swag? Feel free to point and laugh.

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