Developers Say the Darndest Things: John Calhoun on the Dead Space 3 Microtransactions

So Dead Space 3 comes out in a couple days.  Sometime between February 5th through the 8th, depending on which country you call home.  For most of the lead-up to the game’s launch, I found it hard to care.  Nothing against the game itself, the series just never appealed to me.  Never seemed like it would push my particular buttons.  And this third game in the series seems like it would be no different.  I’m sure some people might like it, but it’s just so far outside my gaming sphere that nothing EA’s marketing does could get me interested in the game.

Instead, it seems to be something the developers did that got me interested, and not in a good way.  Dead Space 3 is going to have microtransactions, imported directly from all those free-to-play games you’ve probably never tried.  Essentially, these have you paying real world money for some sort of in-game resource.  Sometimes it’s time, where you don’t have to wait for something to happen.  Sometime it’s resources, as in this case, whether in-game money or crafting material, or something of that sort.  Either way, what I’m getting at is that microtransactions are essentially you just paying money to get the computer to change a number.  It’s not DLC, because you’re not paying for any new content, what you are paying for is something that you could get otherwise within the game, were you just to put in the time or energy.  Like I said, really common in free-to-play titles.  A lot less common in games that you have to shell out full price for.

I’m not going to say it’s a bad thing in these “hardcore” games, or that anyone’s in the wrong for buying into it.  Each individual player will have to make the choice as to whether it’s worth it or not.  It’s not like this is a new phenomenon either.  Mass Effect 3 had microtransactions for its multiplayer weapons.  Tales of Vesperia had microtransactions for levels and basic items.  This is a practice that disgusts the gamer in me, and I’d hate to see it take root, but the businessman in me understands it.  After all, Dead Space 3 has infamously had a massive development budget, and for whatever reason EA’s marketing isn’t pushing the game nearly as strongly as I thought they would.  They’ve got to make up for it somehow, and giving players the choice of paying money if they wish to get these resource packs wouldn’t be that big a deal, so long as the game didn’t actually require it.  Between the gamer and business perspectives I have, I’ve kind of found a bit of balance, that of just idly hoping the microtransactions flop.

Of course, it’s easy for me to have such a passive outlook on the issue, as I’m not actually invested in the game whatsoever.  I was mostly paying attention to these microtransactions because it’s created so much internet drama, and I do enjoy a good bit of butthurt. I was never going to bother saying anything about it though, until I saw this interview at GamePlanet with Visceral Producer John Calhoun.  Several of the things he says in the interview set off my bullhonky detector.  Normally, that’s the sort of thing I’d just quietly sit on and forget to care about after a couple of hours.  But now, I don’t have to! I’ve got a blog now!  If I don’t use it to share my random thoughts with the world, what am I doing with this thing?!  So we’re going to go over my perspective on a couple of the things Calhoun has said in that interview that just seem weird.

Continue reading