There's a worrying trend appearing on PSN and Xbox Live. Premium downloadable content which amounts to completing the game for you in exchange for cash. The prices may be small, but you're effectively removing challenge (and therefore longevity) while making your game more expensive. Surely that's crazy talk?
Split/Second: Velocity is the latest to offer an unlock code that opens up every car, track and event in the game, here for a total of 560 MS Points (£4.80/$7.00). Such an 'unlock all' command used to be implemented in games as a cheat code that you would enter at the title screen. But why do that when you can charge for it? Look at this craziness:
Above: DOAX2's in-game shop uses MS points to buy sexy swimsuits
Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 was given an in-game shop called the 'Crystal Boutique' which let you purchase swimsuits with real money (dressed up as MS Points), instead of earning Zack Dollars to buy them in-game. The fact you could dress up one girl in another girl's clothes must only appeal to the hardest of hardcore fans (ahem), but the market is clearly there.
Skate 2 got an 'unlock everything' DLC pack. A mere 400 MS Points will give you all of the game's rewards in one go. Surely the equivalent of reading the last page of a book as soon as you've bought it.
Above: Why spend time learning Skate 2 when you can spend money?
Then there's Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. Sure, there are loads of tracks and characters to unlock, but just playing the game gives you access to them. And if you really want a specific character, you can save in-game miles for it first, right? Wrong. 400MS points is all you need to get them all.
Above: Ryo's inclusion in SASASR is welcome. But surely you can wait?
We're certainly not saying the unlock system is perfect. There are undoubtedly games where we'd much rather have everything unlocked for the first time we play (Super Smash Bros Brawl springs to mind) rather than traipse through a boring mission mode for 20 hours first. And the less said about the need to find all those stickers in LittleBigPlanet the better.
There just has to be a better way than this.
19 May, 2010