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Would you pay to open up your games?

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: 

 

The Crystal Boutique


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.

 

Heaven is a £3.43 half-pipe

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?

 

That DLC killed my father

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

26 comments

  • TRAVthe3RD - May 19, 2010 2 p.m.

    soon youl probably have to pay for infinite ammo, car spawns etc for games like gta.. thats how i see the trend goin
  • OnyxOblivion - May 19, 2010 2:01 p.m.

    Ummm...These aren't bad. If you're too lazy to play through the game, this let's you pay to do it. All the content is in the game, this just saves you the hours of work, if you don't feel up to it. Otherwise, don't buy it. This is for the impatient people. This actually would RUIN the game for me, as I love the sense of progress from unlockables. Except in fighting games, unless it's just extra costumes. But if I have to play 10 hours to unlock the characters, I'm pissed.
  • BlueCroup - May 19, 2010 2:01 p.m.

    No chance, although I will admit to buying time saver thing on Burnout Paradise after losing my 60hours Save, I had some spare points.But I'm not spending money to advance in a game first time round Oh Justin, there's a typo at start, think you mean 2you" instead of "do"
  • GR_JustinTowell - May 19, 2010 2:08 p.m.

    Great spot with the typo mate :)
  • db1331 - May 19, 2010 2:09 p.m.

    DLC is the absolute worst thing to ever happen to gaming. Between that and developers releasing unfinished games with day one patches, gaming is in a sorry state right now. Gamers could stand up make it go away too, but that will never happen.
  • sgh341 - May 19, 2010 2:10 p.m.

    Wow, this is awful. Unlockables are rewards for completing games and spending time with them. Unlockables were meant to lengthen a game without being artificial. God, I hope people don't buy these. It's stupid and it's wrong.
  • sixboxes - May 19, 2010 2:10 p.m.

    Seems to me that these console online networks are a kind of fledgling economy unto themselves. Companies are still feeling out how the economies work by testing various products and services. We should take this as more of a financial experiment than an economical standard. Just like any relatively untested product, the most effective feedback we can give the providers is via purchasing practices. The short short version is: if you don't buy it, they won't sell it. There probably is a "better way" as you suggest, but if THIS way proves to be wildly successful, companies are not going to try to find anything better.
  • lovinmyps3 - May 19, 2010 2:38 p.m.

    I think that's bullcrap. Unlock stuff through playing the game! In my mind even cheat codes aren't this bad!
  • usmovers_02 - May 19, 2010 2:43 p.m.

    Seriously, what does it matter if people use cheat codes or not? It doesn't effect you, right? So why should people care about how others play their games? And yeah, charging for what has been free for decades is garbage.
  • EvidentDead - May 19, 2010 2:48 p.m.

    I think once you buy the game, its yours to do with it as you like (Inside the legal world, that is) Some people just don't have the time for the 20 hours of play it takes to unlock a secret character, or weapon due to our lifestyle (like working) so I can see why this is catching on. However, I have been playing games since I could hold a controller, and I just... don't like it. Kinda feels like going through a hedge maze with a chainsaw carving my own path.
  • johngrybos - May 19, 2010 3:04 p.m.

    The U.S. federally-mandated minimum wage is $7.25. Even if you're a burger flipper, your work time is at least that valuable. If you feel like your free time is as valuable (I feel it's more valuable), then a few bucks to avoid spending hours and hours to earn the right to play on all the tracks is easily justifiable.
  • Baron164 - May 19, 2010 3:32 p.m.

    I would not pay to unlock everything. The way I see it is if I don't care enough about the game to play through the entire thing to unlock all the extras then why waste my money to do it.
  • Clovin64 - May 19, 2010 3:33 p.m.

    So, buying this DLC will result in a loss of challange, longevity and makes the game more expensive, right? In that case consider it the punishment for people who buy it. I play games a lot but I would say I still suck at them (maybe I'm being too modest) so I often struggle to unlock everything, but when I do succesfully unlock extra stuff due to my hard work and persistance (often peppered with screams of frustration) it just seems all the more sweeter. Also, you could argue that DLC more often than not results in developers releasing what is essentially a half-finished game before making us gamers spend even more cash on DLC in order to get the "complete" game. Not all the time though, DLC can be good sometimes.
  • bitcrusherrrr - May 19, 2010 4:19 p.m.

    I miss cheats :o(
  • garnsr - May 19, 2010 4:24 p.m.

    Do you still get the trophies after you buy these unlock packs? Burnout Paradise has trophies for unlocking cars, does that still happen if you already have the car?
  • MattOfSteel - May 19, 2010 4:25 p.m.

    It's optional, so whatever. I'm more worried that we'll eventually see a return to the arcade pricing system. Pay for the game and then have to pay 100 points per play. Game Overs would = suck.
  • PhantomDave - May 19, 2010 5:11 p.m.

    garnsr brings up a really good point. If you buy these things it should eliminate any trophy/achievment that comes with it. I mean what would be next? Buying gamerscore points with MS points?
  • Tygerclaws - May 19, 2010 5:49 p.m.

    @db1331 THANK YOU. Thank you, thank you, thank you! FINALLY someone else agrees with me on that. >.>
  • sdmf4ever - May 19, 2010 5:59 p.m.

    I wholeheartedly agree with this concept being utterly and ridiculously gaffe and obtuse. C'mon already! This is probably the most stupid thing ever done in gaming.....REALLY! This takes out all the whole premise of what playing a video game is all about. Take out the challenge, take out the need to progress in order to expand your gaming experience, take out the FUN, take out the whole meaning of what it is to actually play a game, take out more money from my pocket, and take out the total experience in itself altogether and what are you left with.......TOTAL CRAPTASTIC MEANINGLESS DRIVEL...that's what!!!!! We are playing video games, not board games. And I thought cheat codes and guides were bad. What is the whole purpose of exploring and finding out what can or cannot be done within a game if everything is already done fore you...what a complete waste of time and non-fun to be had pursuing this method of gameplay......REALLY!
  • bluscorp - May 19, 2010 6:03 p.m.

    It depends on the person done it really. BTW Justin, didn't you say last podcast(#038) that MM should sell all the stickers and clothing from LBP2?

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