Upcoming shooter Dust 514 is doing a lot of unusual things. It's a PlayStation 3-exclusive first-person shooter that ties into and relies on events in the world of PC MMO Eve Online.
It's also a free-to-play game, except that last summer developers CCP confused many by saying that the supposedly free-to-play FPS wasn't actually entirely free, and would require a "cover charge" to get started. However, this week they've clarified their stance, saying that no, free really is free.
In an interview with Eurogamer, executive producer Brandon Laurino said, "It was a relatively confusing proposition, and we wanted to make it unambiguous that this is a free-to-play game." He also explained:
CCP intended to convert that original cover charge to in-game Aurum credits for you to spend at the micro-transaction store. "And we probably will still have some kind of pack like that," Laurino added. This will be Starter Pack-like offer, but won't be necessary to play Dust 514.
"It's very important as we take steps into this topic to unambiguously state that it is not a pay to win game," Laurino pressed on. "There is no micro-transaction that you can do that gives you an unfair advantage over someone who hasn't paid anything. It's the classic micro-transaction dynamic of, 'I can pay and get this item,' or, 'I can invest my time and get this item.' But neither of those options will give me an unfair advantage over the other."
Free-to-play and microtransaction-based games do indeed make more clear than ever the old adage that time equals money. Many games now require one or the other in order to advance, but tend to leave that choice up to the player. And enough players opt to put down cash that the model has become successful in a very short time.
Dust 514 went into a closed beta at the beginning of the year and is slated for release sometime this (northern) summer.