DUST 514 requires "cover charge" from PS3 players

Upfront fee of "$10-$20" refunded in-game, title may go entirely free-to-play after launch

CCP's upcoming persistent first-person shooter DUST 514 will require a cover charge from PlayStation 3 players, with the fee refunded as in-game currency.

The unusual approach is part of the developer's plan to help manage the roll-out of the highly-anticipated title, where consequences in the console game will have an effect on PC virtual world EVE Online, and vice-versa.

"In the beginning you have to pre-buy credits, so you pay something like $10-$20 to enter the game and you get the equivalent number of credits in the game once you do that. We call this the 'cover charge'," CCP's CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson told

We might go fully free-to-play down the line, but in the beginning we have a cover charge just to manage the initial launch of it

Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, CCP

"You're really getting the game for free but you have to pre-buy credits in the beginning. We might go fully free-to-play down the line, but in the beginning we have a cover charge just to manage the initial launch of it.

He added: "We have always been a big believer in growing up a social network behind the game in a slow and predictable way. Because we have seen that if you don't do that you can end up with a very unstructured experience, where there's no cohesion to the community. By growing it at the beginning we help to make a healthy environment initially."

A PlayStation 3 exclusive, DUST 514 is one of the new wave of titles that Sony is using to try out various free-to-play models on its home console - the only format-holder willing to experiment with a business model growing in ubiquity for online titles.

In-game currency will be spent on micro-transactions, although Pétursson wouldn't elaborate in detail on whether these will be vanity items like those that have caused outrage in the EVE Online community, or more game-changing content such as weaponry and ammunition.

"It's not like in shooters where you've seen virtual goods sales. Whether that's some of the games you've seen in Asia, whether that's Battlefield, or other games," he said. "We don’t really have a set of things we're communicating on now because a lot of this comes out in the private trials that we're starting at the end of this year, where we're just starting to tune and test and see what works. That's how we'll define it.

"We have some initial assumptions but we'll put it out there and see how the player base during the trials reacts to it."

CCP was happy to make the game a PlayStation 3 exclusive because it meant the company could experiment more, and would face less restrictions than trying to fit the game to two home consoles.

"The console platforms are very difficult, especially when it comes to how they organise the backend. They take very different approaches. To be able to work within both limits a lot of innovation we can do.

"By going exclusive with either platform allows us to do more innovation. The lowest common denominators would have been so small we couldn't do things that are really interesting. Sony was quite motivated in allowing us to do things we requested of them to the point they said 'no one has really asked about that before and we've never thought about, but why not?' They were very enthusiastic and open to really do something world changing and that's what swayed the decision to go with them," he added.

While the game isn't due for at least another year, the EVE Online community has already mobilised itself, creating a meta-game to recruit top-class first-person shooter players from other online worlds to act as 'mercenaries' for EVE corporations.

"That is very similar to when we announced EVE Online in September 2000, we already saw corporations forming, this meta-gaming happening on the forums, people creating websites and recruiting three years prior to EVE launching," offered Pétursson. "We're now seeing a similar thing happen and it's very encouraging to see."

He also highlighted that DUST 514 should offer more varied experiences than the repetitive crop of online shooters available on console.

"We hear from the shooter community that people really love the idea that there's a persistent action and reaction to their gameplay. A first-person shooter can have a feeling of déjà vu with the same thing happening over and over again.

"And on the EVE side we have a lot of positive reaction that relates to people having friends that don't necessarily enjoy EVE but they like the idea of the content of EVE. So now there's an experience that they think friends will enjoy and they're excited about that. I've heard EVE players say that finally there's something in the EVE world that my son will enjoy."

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Latest comments (19)

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 10 years ago
By the time Sony starts experimenting with f2p on the PS3, they probably will have moved on to the PS4. Is the PS3 being readied to become a cheap hardware running "free" games for its final years?
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Christopher Goodno Community & Network Manager (HAVAMedia) 10 years ago
@Klaus: Isn't FreeRealms on PSN F2P?
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Attila Olas IT- security consultant 10 years ago
I think CCP need more experts than few freaky wannabe Software Developers. You can make for both consoles a good game in the same time, but CCP like to sell they souls for Sony.
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Show all comments (19)
Björn Loesing Producer, OnnetCorp10 years ago
So... it's Free-to-Play, but not, because you have to buy a ticket for that disco to join the dancefloor, but you'll get a free monocle with it?

I admire CCP, but I honestly think it's time they hired someone who knows a bit of how this free-to-play stuff actually works.
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Colin.J.C. Garstang Intellectual artist 10 years ago
@Bjorn: is that GamersFirst I see cricling the "consulatncy" wagons?
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Stefan Pettersson Specialist Consultant, Fat Tuna10 years ago
Microsoft pratically owns the hardcore fps-genre and online gaming with Live. Going 360-exclusive would have made much more sense for an fps like Dust.

CCP's problem is Microsoft didn't want alternative transaction models, they'd already tried that and failed with Final Fantasy Online.

Compare sales figures for multiformats like Call of Duty and Bioshock to get a hint of which platform sells more fps than the other. Or compare the mediocre Killzone 3 sales with Halo sales.

If your game is fps, Xbox is the place to be from a business perspective.

CCP will most likely fail with Dust on PS3 because 1) wrong platform (no fps-hardcore gamers) and 2) PSN is a (bad!) joke. I think that's sad since I've been waiting for Dust since i first heard of it, and I'm an ongoing EVE-player since may 2003.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Stefan Pettersson on 11th July 2011 5:53pm

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"You're really getting the game for free but you have to pre-buy credits in the beginning. "

There's really something wrong with the way Pétursson thinks.
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Abraham Tatester Producer 10 years ago
This is pretty funny. Announcing that the game will eventually be fully F2P means that many gamers (like me) will simply wait until it is fully free to try it out.
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Robert Potter Programmer 10 years ago
@Abraham That's exactly why they are doing it. Creating a barrier of entry, even one this small, will help them roll things out smoother by warding off a large portion of the players. Once things relax, they can open up the flood gates.
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Mclean Oshiokpekhai News Writer/Editor, GameGavel.com10 years ago
@Robert: Then how will they make money if the majority of people who aren't willing to pay for Dust, won't?

Furthermore, why isn't this just a 15$-20$ dollar PSN game (ala, M.A.G. but cheaper)? Why dress it up like this to confuse people?

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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game10 years ago
Part of the important aspects of a F2P mmo seems to be the 80-90% of people who spend nothing, but make the large community that adds atmosphere so that the paying people hang around, and give the paying players someone to be able to try to impress/beat by playing.

If you have to buy credits, the people who spend nothing won't come to the party, the credits they wouldn't have bought anyway arn't much of an incentive, and in turn, the appeal for whales lessens. So what you end up with is a £10 download shooter with a lot of dlc.

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 10 years ago
^ annnnnnd there's another online game I won't be playing. I don't see how nickel and diming works as a good business model for what's supposed to be a premium product tied to another premium product with a rather cranky user base ready to tilt the apple cart the minute they don't like (or respect) what the developer is doing on a different platform.

At the end of the day, You have two connected MMO's relying on people not wanting to play other MMO's and probably happen to have a decent gaming rig AND a PS3 (who aren't graphics whores who bitch all day about console games being crappy-looking) and wanting to hop on board, pay a tiny sum that gets refunded and eventually you get more people coming on who are simply waiting for the whole deal to be free..

This shit makes my head spin, but if that's the way these folks want to work it, so be it... I'll be on the sidelines with the popcorn rooting for success, but that's it.
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Sam Maxted Journalist / Community / Support 10 years ago
This isn't a F2P game. It's a purchased game, with additional micropayments.

CCP's communication skills aren't getting any better, are they?
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Jason Justice Operations Lead, SG Interactive10 years ago
@Mark The latter part of your post is what I suspect CCP is honestly shooting for and banking on: that the FPS "game" will simply be a UI that introduces these players to the Eve universe. I wouldn't expect a AAA FPS experience out of DUST 514, and as such I'm going to agree with you that--absolutely--a large number of people will check it out, then move on. I just think that's probably fine by CCP; I don't want to assume too much, but I don't think it's unfair to imagine that they're not realistically expecting to take the FPS world by storm here.

As for the model, I'm with Robert on this one: there are people who know that this game is for them and they're going to play it. There are people who are intrigued by the idea and have honestly spent $20 (or more!) on an idea in the past and aren't too concerned about being burned by it. There are undoubtedly multitudes of people who will be willing to give it a shot for the bargain price of free, but at least initially I have to expect CCP will want to test the waters a bit before opening the gate.
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Greg Meurders Venture Capital Consultant 10 years ago
I'm a bit confused, we knew this already, from Fanfest.
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Phil Johnson Design Graduate 10 years ago
Usual company spin notwithstanding, it is encouraging to see that underneath all the rage and drama there's still a wealth of people who are so enthusiastic about EVE and DUST that they're setting up corporations already. Seems to me like the silent majority are voting with their actions and dollars, not with their strident forum posts.
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This business model is actually quite cunning.

If CCP want to experiment with Free to play, then alot of investment and monies cannot be accrued till later.

By creating a pay wall barrier to entry, this helps capture a majority of folks who would check it out and decide to stay, or check it out and decide to leave, of will want to play it anyways.

This helps mitigates the cost in short and mid term, and overall there is less risk involved for CCP internally. Meanwhile, the metrics from the first adopters will by then be available to allow for tweaking and improvement of the overall product

Or something along those lines...

NB: the best things in life are free, but this is by no means a free game. It is a paid game, with the "free" tagged on/top spin upon it all to appeal to the average joe

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dr. Chee Ming Wong on 12th July 2011 11:09am

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Björn Loesing Producer, OnnetCorp10 years ago
@Colin: No, it says OnNet under my name. ;) But Gamersfirst publishes a title in US we publish in Europe, so I can understand the confusion.

Seriously though, I stand by my call that CCP could do worse than hire people who actually worked on Free-2-Play titles before, this does not seem to be the case right now.
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Sean Warren Inspector 10 years ago
And where are they? Not here, that's for sure. Hell, with the way this is shaping up I predict that they are no longer even in the same dimension as the rest of us... What a bunch of morons. to go from what they had to this? GL you lad's and lass's, you obviously need it.
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