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EA continues its microtransactions push with  Dead Space 3
EA continues its microtransactions push with Dead Space 3
January 22, 2013 | By Mike Rose

January 22, 2013 | By Mike Rose
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    54 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Electronic Arts said last year that it plans to introduce microtransactions into all of its games from now on. Keeping true to its word, the company revealed today that the upcoming Dead Space 3 will have in-game purchases available.

Talking to Eurogamer, the game's associate producer Yara Khoury explained that resources can be purchased with real money to craft more powerful guns. However, she was keen to stress that these resources can be earned by playing through the game without paying extra.

She also noted that certain resources will not be available for purchase from the very beginning of the game, and will only open up as you play -- meaning that players cannot simply purchase the best guns from the get-go.

This isn't the first AAA title from EA to get microtransactions, as players are able to pay real money in Mass Effect 3 to unlock weapons and classes in multiplayer.

And EA isn't the only publisher moving into the microtransactions space for its AAA console games. Ubisoft most recently introduced microtransactions into the multiplayer for Assassin's Creed 3.


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Comments


Daneel Filimonov
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Always about money isn't it, EA?

Alan Rimkeit
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Yeah, that is how a business usually runs.

Michael Joseph
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Many businesses are created because the people who founded them are passionate about what they do and being able to make a living doing that is gravy. These people tend to run their businesses according to their own values and NOT according to the MBA Rules of Acquisition. If your only point is that "money has to be made for the business to continue to exist" then that's just a droll flippant and insultingly dismissive response that ignores what Daneel was obviously trying to communicate...

Alan Rimkeit
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@Michael Joseph - I am not trying to be drool or flippant or dismissive. Business is money. Money is business. One can have all the passion in the world but with no money the passion is not going to help at all. So in a way it is largely about money. Passion fuels the process but money makes it possible. Even for the smallest and humble of Indie game devs.

Matt Terry
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@Michael,

I think the point that Alan is trying to make, and what I also believe to be true, is that it is EA's prerogative to do what they please with the products they own. EA is a massive company, who competes against other massive companies. More money means more resources to do bigger and better things and to pay bigger and better salaries to keep top talent. That is how a business runs, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with a company "doing it for the money". It's their right to do so. If you or anyone else doesn't like it, simply don't buy the product.

TC Weidner
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actually there is much more , or should be more, to being a company than just making money. It is astounding how many people buy into the flawed and ridiculous theory spewed by Milton Friedman.

Dave Smith
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Hey TC, you seem pretty passionate, would you mind doing some work for me? free of course. I wouldnt want you whoring yourself for money.

Ian Welsh
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Money is like food. Fools live to eat, wise people eat to live. Companies need money to keep going, but if their only purpose is to make money they are toxic to society.

As a THQ employee said today, that company started going downhill when HQ became obsessed with money and not with fun.

Look up obliquity. If you want to make lots of money in general the best way is to cocentrate on something else.

kevin Koos
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So if you can earn them by playing then why have this -players cannot simply purchase the best guns from the get-go-

If I am going to pay for something that i can earn then i want it whenever i pay for it.....Should be my choice not theirs if i am paying

Sunil Chacko
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I think what they mean is simply to reassure players that they won't miss out on any content if they choose not to pay... simply that paying will allow you to get more powerful items/guns more quickly, without having to earn/find them. In a way, paying is the lazy option. That said, they don't want to give payers access to [everything] from the start, or it might risk spoiling the gaming experience. Typically for Dead Space, the whole [survival-horror] aspect would all but disappear if you're almost invincible from the get-go...

Alan Rimkeit
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'However, she was keen to stress that these resources can be earned by playing through the game without paying extra."

That is all I need to know. If it is all optional then I am good with it. If they make it required then I am not good with it at all.

Kyle Redd
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@Alan

Of course it's always a good idea to believe a company when they tell you, their potential customer, that they absolutely have your own best interests at heart and would never try to take advantage of you.

I mean, what kind of world would we live in if we actually questioned these companies' motives? Wouldn't want to be impolite or anything.

Alan Rimkeit
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None of you have to pay for the ease of using the pay for resource collection feature. People are over reacting just a bit here. But that could just be me.

Kyle Redd
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@Alan

Or it could be that EA is going to intentionally make in-game resources too difficult and time-consuming to collect for most players, thus giving them ample incentive to pay even more money for a single-player game that they have already dropped $60-plus dollars on. Do you seriously not believe this is a likely possibility?

Alan Rimkeit
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@Kyle Redd - I guess we shall make that determination once the game is released.

Diana Hsu
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Just vote with your dollar. Don't spend on micro-transactions (or, better yet, avoid the game entirely) if you disagree with their inclusion. Because at the end of the day, how much revenue the micro-transactions have brought in is the only metric the decision makers are looking at. Sadly, the most vocal complainers about micro-transactions are often the ones who spend the most money.

Robert Swift
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@Alan Rimkeit
But balancing it is a very delicate thing and could go either way very quick. Either it's too easy to get them without money, then EA is unhappy or it's too hard, then the player is unhappy.

And since different people have different skills/frustration levels, it's essentially impossible to find a balance which will not put off a number of people.

Alan Rimkeit
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I guess we can see how they did the balancing when the game comes out.

Thom Q
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Yes, suck it dry!

So, EA is actively destroying the industry, and it's own position in it.. What else is new..

Simon Ludgate
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/Sadface. I liked Dead Space 1 and 2 so much and I was so looking forward to 3 until I read this.

I suppose I can only hope that the pirates find a solution to in-game microtransactions for single-player offline games, much like they found solutions for invasive DRM. Maybe there will be a pirated version of Dead Space 3 and when you click "Download Content" it just shows an off-line page with everything marked at "$0" and you just click to enable whatever you want.

Then, once again, the pirates would be getter a better game experience than the legitimate customers.

Alan Rimkeit
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How is any of this relevant to this article? You can get the resources through game play if you want to.

Simon Ludgate
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It's relevant because the designer of the game designs how many of those resources can be acquired in the game. If the only way to get the resources is in the game, the game has to provide enough resources for the desired experience. If you also provide resources through microtransactions, you can design the game with access to fewer resources.

The thing is, this system isn't about getting upgrades faster, it's about getting more upgrades. Whereas a closed game like Dead Space 1 and 2 would provide enough upgrades to mostly upgrade most of your arsenal, a microtransaction-driven game like Dead Space 3 only has to provide enough upgrades to partly upgrade part of your arsenal. Just enough to make it seem fair, but only just enough; the bare minimum available for free to reinforce the value of buying more.

So, ultimately, it has severe consequences on the actual game play. Players playing without microtransactions will have a more limited game experience than they would if microtransactions weren't an option. Players playing with microtransactions will get more than they would if microtransactions weren't an option. The game becomes unbalanced; in theory, you'd have to buy just as much resources as would have been present if microtransactions weren't available to have the ideal experience.

Moreover, the very possibility of the interference of microtransactions tarnishes the expectations and experience of the game. Look at how many people criticize Diablo 3's loot drops and how you "need" to buy gear from the RMAH. Whether or not the design of Diablo 3's loot tables were negatively impacted in order to encourage use of the RMAH, players percieve that this is the case. Thus, even if EA claims Dead Space 3 still provides as many resources as it would without microtransactions, players will call foul and claim resources were reduced to drive players to the store.

Alan Rimkeit
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@Simon Ludgate - I can see your point being relevant IF the game was balanced to favor the idea of buying the resources needed to craft the new weapons instead of collecting them in game. But I guess we will see how that works out.

Brian Peterson
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Very surprised to hear that Dead Space 3 will be free-to-play! I'll be interested to see how it works out for EA. It might open up some interesting new business models for AAA game development and distribution in the future.

Wait, they're still charging $60 for it?

Oh.

Ramin Shokrizade
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The whole monetization environment has been simplified down to a "subscription vs. microtransactions" paradigm for those that need it to be that simple. This paradigm is misleading, unnecessary, and produces poor revenues. I have some articles in the pipe that will help to explain why this is so, but as EA moves the Death Star into position over my planet I feel like I am running out of time to explain why they should not pull the trigger.

Thom Q
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Ramin, as previous crashes in the market have shown us, the approach to it is way longer then the crash, and it's effects. Remember the big crash in 1983? Same year that the NES came out :)

Lets just hope that when the crash comes, the big corporations will back off, and let the little man innovate and thrive again.

Maria Jayne
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Ejection of original audience enjoyment complete...commence farming of new cash cows.

John Flush
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I'm just glad I'm not one of people that is trying to be pushed into giving more for these games, having abandoned anything that is released through the publisher.

As EA's tactics continue to change there are many gamers that just won't follow, causing the market group to shrink, causing EA to need to find more ways to get money out of the games. Cycle repeats until the game development/publishing is just too heavy regardless of money revenue attempts and the ship sinks.

I truly feel sorry for developers that feel they need to publish through EA to get their game out and look forward to the day the bloat of big name publishers are no longer needed in the industry.

Jonathan McAfee
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I'd like to play Devil's advocate here.
-Okay, first off, this is not a free-to-play model. It's an optional micro transaction model. There's a difference here. Free-to-play is essentially "game breaking". This is not. Ms. Khoury made that pretty clear.
-Secondly, I don't think it's fair to dis EA like this. Whether you like it or not, EA is a flagship developer and publisher and they are a big reason the video game industry is profitable for the rest of us. They give jobs to thousands of passionate developers all over the world with families to feed. In a time when things are changing so fast, EA has to implement new ideas. New ways to keep cash flow up when old models are starting to fail. Not to mention they have stock holders that are expecting GDP to continue to increase.
-Lastly, because free-to-play has been so successful, the idea of the micro transaction has become pretty comfortable with users. This won't kill their sales, and if it had for Mass Effect 3, I don't think we'd see it now in Dead Space 3. Which means they're profiting. And in a lot of ways, buying content in a game could add to the enjoyment factor of a gamer. This is extra game content, DLC if you will. A player could find some pride and ownership of the content they purchased, making it all the more sweeter to use. Thoughts?

Kyle Redd
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*deleted

Jeremie Sinic
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"However, she was keen to stress that these resources can be earned by playing through the game without paying extra."
And do players get any incentive for using skills vs money?
I would mind microtransactions in paid games much less if there was a true recognition of skills.
For example, they could award some achievement for completing the game without spending extra cash on gameplay-affecting features (meaning players could still spend on cosmetic enhancements without penalty).
How can you brag about your skills if a game lets you spend cash to make you stronger? How can players draw any pride from that?
And this has the potential to be particularly bad in a survival horror game, where each bullet is supposed to count. Well, let's see but for sure I'll wait for full reviews before considering a purchase.

Kyle Redd
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@Jeremie

"For example, they could award some achievement for completing the game without spending extra cash on gameplay-affecting features (meaning players could still spend on cosmetic enhancements without penalty)."

I can say with absolute certainty that this achievement will never exist in any game, ever.

Luis Guimaraes
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There is it, a huge opportinuty for a new horror IP to estabilish itself on the market. From a PR standpoint.

From an Economy standpoint, how do used games and price drops affect micro-transactions?

Alan Rimkeit
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I would imagine micro-transactions are great for devs and pubs as they offer a way to make money off of used game sales. I would imagine that they would have little effect on price drops.

Erin OConnor
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This is what happens when games are made by accountants and not designers.
Comming soon, AAA titles that will required you to spend money in order to complete them.

Ali Afshari
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Dead Space 1 had the same thing...you could purchase and download better suits and weapons through Xbox Live. Now that it's being tagged as "Microtransactions", the sky is falling. EA does what EA does, why is everyone surprised?

I loved Dead Space, liked Dead Space 2 (never touched Multiplayer), and will probably like Dead Space 3 without ever touching the Co-op or Multiplayer components.

Kyle Redd
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Um, Ali... you're missing a pretty massive difference in this case: The purchasable suits and weapons in Dead Space 1 (along with similar items in 100% of all the non-F2P single-player games released by every major publisher up until now) were *not* retrievable in-game at all, so the publisher had no motivation to alter the frequency or difficulty of in-game acquisition in a way that would allow them to make more money. With Dead Space 3, that motivation now exists.

Now considering that EA isn't exactly known for having a generous disposition towards its players, how do you expect they're going to apply this new money-making tool of theirs?

Ali Afshari
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@Kyle:

That is a good point and it is definitely something that I would not condone at all. However, do you really think something like this would fly? If it truly is determined that EA/Visceral alters the difficulty/frequency of loot drops to coerce players into paying real cash, it would cause quite a stir, especially with the vocal users online. The closest game I can think of that could use a similar model would be Diablo 3, but since I haven't touched the RMAH and I haven't played it after about 2 weeks (never beat it to see how frustrating it is to earn new loot on higher difficulties), I don't really have actual experience of this happening before.

I'm a cynic at heart, but I don't think EA is stupid...misguided, for sure, in thinking these kind of tactics will generate more money but I don't think they're stupid enough to truly leave players with no choice but to never buy EA games again.

I could be eating humble pie a few weeks after the game releases, but as of right now, all of this is pure speculation.

Kyle Redd
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@Ali

"If it truly is determined that EA/Visceral alters the difficulty/frequency of loot drops to coerce players into paying real cash, it would cause quite a stir"

But who makes the decision as to whether EA has actually done this or not? The game will come out with a particular balance in place, and it will then be up to reviewers' judgement as to whether or not that balance has been affected by EA's new scheme.

I very much doubt any of the major gaming sites will allow this aspect of DS3 to negatively affect the scores they give out. These are sites that receive tens of thousands of dollars in free games and hardware every year (obviously including Dead Space 3), from the very studios they are supposed to be casting a critical eye towards; they're not exactly in a position to be "fair and balanced." And certainly the editors at Gamasutra, whose very livelihood is dependent on these publishers doing well financially, aren't going to be very motivated either.

Hell, look at Game Informer (http://tinyurl.com/a8g8oho), one of the biggest gaming publications in existence. They didn't even pretend to report today's news with the slightest degree of impartiality; editor Jeff Cork dismissed all criticism of EA's move right in the headline.

Ali Afshari
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@Kyle:

Agreed. I'm conflicted because I really like the Dead Space lore and want to play the new game, but I know a sale also tells EA/Visceral that their actions are totally valid and acceptable. It is definitely another move in a concerted effort by the publishers to nickle-and-dime customers. These are all baby steps and if the publishers don't get their hands smacked, they'll be standard operating procedure by the time the next consoles roll out...if not sooner. It is unfortunate, but I don't put any faith in most professional outlets for criticism of these kinds of moves that take a while to resonate (no disrespect to Gamasutra staff). To me, it makes more sense to get criticism from the paying customers (non-game industry professionals), since this group is directly affected by all these publisher actions.

Game Informer is owned by Gamestop and I stopped viewing them with any journalistic integrity once I learned about the purchase. If I want honest opinions, I watch RazorFist's YouTube videos :)

Kyle Redd
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@Ali

I want to share your faith in the power of the consumers themselves in bringing wide attention to these sorts of exploitative actions by publishers. I guess right now I'm just assuming that even if there is a lot of backlash, it will inevitably be drowned out by the string of 9/10 review scores and all of the fanboys shouting them down.

But I hope you're right.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Simon Ludgate
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I don't think there's any way to "unlock everything" since you're just buying extra resources and, if you start a new game, you have to buy them again. There's no upper limit on how much you can spend with this scheme.

Matt Terry
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My opinion if this is a good or bad thing is contingent upon how much you need these weapons to complete the game. If designed correctly, you won't absolutely need these weapons to beat the game on an average difficulty, which I'm fine with.

Let me give two examples of good and bad:

BAD: Diablo 3. Yes, you did not have to spend money to beat the game on the first three levels of difficulty, but the problem is the game offered little entertainment aside from the promise of being more of a challenge as you increase difficulty. The hardest difficulty was near impossible to beat unless you spent days grinding or you paid real money at the auction house. The other problem was that you had to quit playing in order to enter the AH/RMAH. I spent around $50 to get "top gear", because I was forced to, and then the next act came along and that gear was useless. This is a perfect example of making a game so hard, that you are forced to spend more than the initial $60 for the game to enjoy it.

GOOD: Lord of the Rings Online: You get hours (200+ with multiple classes) worth of entertainment without having to spend a dime, but you always had the option to fork over a couple bucks to speed up the process of empowering your character. The bigger bucks only had to be spent when you wanted to unlock expansion packs, which offered another several weeks worth of entertainment. If I had a long week at work with little time to play, I could spend $5 and increase my experience gain/damage/morale, etc. to make up for lost time. It was fantastic. Over a couple years I've spent well over $200 with LOTRO and I don't regret a penny.

So, hopefully EA will do a GOOD job at implementing micro-transactions, but as of right now, there's no use getting bent out of shape about it until we see what will happen.

Groove Stomp
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Bah.
I have completely sworn off any game that incorporates microtransactions as a core gameplay element. (Think Tiny Tower, Jet Pack Joyride and games like that.)
So... I guess I won't buy any more EA games! :)
Seriously. I have been burned too many times by microtransactions to trust that business model. Ciao.

TC Weidner
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exactly, I play games in my free time to get away from this always going for my wallet society. I dont need to worry about scams and fine print in my games as well.

Kieren Bloomfield
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Has the core mechanic of modern gaming become so mundane that we've resorted to paying to skip it? It seems games are becoming more like work and in that world you can pay someone else to do it for you if you have the money.

Aside from the moral implications of teaching our kids that we can pay to avoid doing anything we don't like it makes me sad that games are becoming a grindfest of leveling up with no real sense of accomplishment or reward.

As an aside this isn't just EA. I'm pretty disgusted at Forza Horizon for begging me to pay real money for a treasure map on every other loading screen...

Daneel Filimonov
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Indeed. Think how different Quake or Doom would have been, if it were possible to buy armor and ammo refills (with real money) or a rocket launcher for killing those large demons. The experience wouldn't be the same, and I think that is true of Dead Space 3 as well. Despite the shallow cover-up of "Additional Resources Required", this "feature" detaches the player from the world and makes him pay some more of the green to be able to kill those enemies in 2 hits instead of 3. It really could have been done better (besides the fact that you can get the materials without paying). Sure EA can do what they want with their game, but their reputation has been long ago soiled. I guess they know or don't care anymore? They've probably got bigger fish to fry anyways.

wes bogdan
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I'll just wait on the goty ed or see how fast ds 3 goes from $59-19 then pick it up. Big bloated publishers need to get a reality check in this econimy they're just greed inc. Not a friend to anyone and they only notice when the husk has been beaten to death and has to be thrown out.

I hope this isn't what next gen means as every game does this because i'd rather stay on current gen/wii u than be screwed on either ps 4 or 720.

Craig Hauser
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I hope they don't intend to put it out for full-price, then. If they do they're going to generate some definite ill-will from fans.

Terry Matthes
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Of course it's going to be full price. Why would they sell it for less than other titles in the past? Money is such a powerful and corrosive force for EA that they are literally pandering for it amidst game-play.

The end goal of the games at EA (if this is truly the plan going forward) is to no longer treat games as an entertainment experience, but a beggar in your living room asking your for change every time you boot up a game. A few dollars here and there really ads up given good market saturation of a title.

If they pee on us all just a little bit we probably won't complain right? Well I for one don't appreciate the assumption that even a little disrespect is OK.

Nooh Ha
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Has a game or publisher ever actually suffered a commercial backlash because it implemented microtransactions? Forums like this get worked up every time EA/Ubi/Valve etc. take a step towards MTs but their games still sell bucketloads. ACIII with its multiplayer MTs is a good case in point. despite the outcry over its multiplayer MT implementation, its week 1 sales were double its predecessor. The point is that as long as gamers keep buying MT-based games, publisher will keep producing them and keep pushing to see what they can get away with. Clearly the MTs work too as EA is now implementing them in every game. So you can rail at the publishers all you like but its the games buying public you should be shouting at for providing the demand the publishers are seeking to meet.

Ujn Hunter
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Thanks for helping me save my money EA. I won't be buying DS3.

Ian Welsh
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I'm not into Dead Space, but we'll see how this hits DA3. I already decided I won't pre-order, because of DAII and ME3's issues, but now I may not buy at all. If the user reviews come in that the microtrans in DA3 are required to avoid tedious grinding, I won't buy it.

Stupid. I'm a core fan, I have bought EVERYTHING they've done that's available on PC and preordered for years.


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