Eve Online has suffered through a sea of controversy in recent months over the introduction of micro transactions to the still fully subscription MMO, but through it all they have still maintained an otherwise loyal fan base. Never afraid to break new ground the folks over at CCP have announced that starting today, players can trade in PLEX to buy actual hardware upgrades, and the first item being offered is the NVidia GTX 560.
Valve's generally incredible at keeping secrets (we think they may actually be removing knowledge of Half-Life from our brains at this point), but we thought we had Portal 2's main feature set pretty well figured out. Single-player, co-op, custom levels. Yep, that about covers it. Turns out, we were wrong. There's more. In this case, though, it's not necessarily a pleasant surprise.
As we all know, the desire to wage war and blow your enemies to bloody confetti on a large scale is a perfectly natural human impulse. The only thing holding most people back? Money. Yep, nowadays, massive weapon payloads and small armies are prohibitively expensive, so what's an average, empty pocketed Joe (or Joette) like yourself supposed to do to satisfy your average dark, bestial bloodlusts? Battlefield Heroes? No, no. We know kittens who are grittier than that game. Fortunately, this is where Battlefield Play4Free comes in.
In a nutshell, the horrifically titled game mixes Battlefield Bad Company 2's weapon and class system with Battlefield 2's most popular maps, and then wraps it all up in a free-to-play browser-based package. A match made in heaven? Perhaps, depending on your tolerance for – you guessed it – microtransactions.
Now, if you'd rather not spend your hard-earned cash until the game becomes BattlefieldPlay4YourHouseAndYourSonsCollegeFundYouMonster, you'll have BFBC 2's XP system to keep you company. Same classes, same unlocks, etc. Meanwhile, microtransactions won't give deep-pocketed players too much of an edge. Rather, they'll offer slight tweaks and weapons that allow you to play your class differently – but not necessarily better.
If, however, you love BFBC 2 so much that you did, in fact, marry it and can no longer touch another game without tarnishing your holy matrimony, DICE has also announced VIP Map Pack 7. It's composed of four maps, two of which hail from the first Bad Company – all of which are completely free to PC players.
Seriously though, DICE, what's with all the presents? We definitely appreciate them, but is there something else at play here? Some kind of special occasion, maybe?
Hooray! Another free update for Team Fortress 2! But this one, er, asks you to spend money. Easy now, put down that irate message board post. You wouldn't want to do anything you'll end up regretting, after all. Plus, this isn't quite as bad as it looks. Don't believe us? Let's hear what Valve has to say.
“We never really think about the money TF2 makes when we’re thinking about what to do. In this case, the thing that we are trying to build is a framework for a more robust collaboration with the community on content creation. This has been one of TF2’s main drives for some time now. In other games, community creators build content after the release, and it forever remains inaccessible to most players,” Valve told our sister site PC Gamer, who – as per usual – leaped all over this story like a rabid fox that's mistaken your face for a delicious baby bunny.
“We view the Mann-conomy as the next, crucial step in the evolution of how communities interact with products. Now they’ll not only be able to contribute to the product, they will be directly compensated for their work.”
Oh, there's also this exceedingly important bit from Valve's Mann-conomy FAQ:
“Our plan is to continue updating TF2 just like we always have, adding free maps, game modes, new features, and more. The Mann Co. Store is simply an alternative way of obtaining items that other players can earn during gameplay.”
Phew. Plus, almost every item – aside from a few minor cosmetic ones – can be unlocked through traditional means such as random drops and crafting, in addition to new methods like trading and winning mid-match duels. Yes, duels. Now you can daintily slip off the white lace glove of war and slap someone in the face with it. If they accept your duel challenge, they'll be highlighted during the match, and the game will keep track of how many times you've killed one another.
Currently, Valve's marketplace features a smattering of its own items and 17 new community created items, which – according to Valve – equate to “about five new class updates.” In the words of some guy on the street we just talked to: “Yeah, I guess it's a pretty big deal. Who are you? You said there would be food.”
Battlefield Heroes, DICE’s “free-to-play” browser-based installment in the Battlefield franchise, has declared war on gamers’ wallets with a recent update. In a nutshell, the update ensures that Valor Points – an earnable in-game currency – get you far less bang for your buck, while all microtransaction-based “Battlefund” price tags have seen a significant reduction.
Whereas before, upping your arsenal on skill alone was a perfectly viable option, now the best weapons are virtually out of you reach unless your outstretched hand contains some cold hard cash. But it can’t be that bad, right? Fans – who’ve officially hit the boiling point on the Outrage-O-Meter – say differently.
"So, 450 VP a day... at a maximum of 7 VP a game, that's 50 games a day. About 4 hours worth of playing," one fan explained. "Now, when you lose a round you can only get 5 VP, making the amount of rounds you need to play each day to keep ONE weapon about 60, which is about 5 hours playtime, every day, for one Uber/Super weapon."
"Now it's impossible for me to play the game for free. I can't even afford the long ranged pistol anymore, let alone bandages. Let me make this clear: now it takes 22 wins for us to earn enough VPs to rent a weapon for a day. If each match is 10 minutes long, that means I'll have to play for 3 hours and a half with a stellar team just to afford the weapon. This is not a casual game. I can't even be a knife + pistol commando anymore," wrote another fan.
To be fair, calling EA’s financial fortunes of late a “disaster” would be charitable, with the publisher ultimately deciding to lay-off 1,500 employees, including Mercenaries developer Pandemic. Our guess? Battlefield Heroes needs to get profitable in a hurry, or else it might be next in line for the chopping block.
Wow. Just wow. We already fork over $15 per month to play World of Warcraft, and Blizzard seriously expects us to drop more of our hard-earned cash on a couple of… Good Lord. They’re adorable. Here’s all our money, as well as a winning lottery ticket and our collection of first edition Charizards.
Lucky for our credit histories, though, only two pets are on sale at the moment. First up, there’s the Pandaren Monk, which – in addition to warming the cockles of our hearts – brightens the days of sick children. From now until December 31, half the proceeds from each $10 Pandaren purchase will go to the Make-a-Wish-Foundation.
Lil’ K.T., the Littlest Lich, on the other hand, isn’t so charitable. Perhaps that’s because he’s the spitting image of his pop, the evil Kel’Thuzad. Apparently, he’s even been known to “randomly wreak icy havoc on critters who dare to cross his path.” But look at that face. Omnipotence and iron-fisted dominion over all existence notwithstanding, all Lil’ K.T. really wants is love.
So, readers, Pandaren Monk or Lil’ K.T. – which is it gonna be?