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Online shooter Dust 514 to require a $10 “cover charge”

Gamers interested in Dust 514, an online first-person shooting game that ties in with the EVE Online universe, will have to pay a “cover charge” to begin playing the game.

Dust 514 is one of a number of games called “free-to-play” in industry terminology, which means that they don’t require a subscription fee to play online.

Despite the terminology, players will have to buy between $10 and $20 worth of in-game credits that can be used to purchase equipment and better weapons in the game before they can access the online world. That means game players won’t have to pay the maker of Dust 514, CCP Games, to play it; they just need to start buying virtual goods. It’s similar to some other games that are requiring a cover charge to access online content, like Mass Effect 2’s Cerberus Network. It’s designed to discourage gamers from buying used versions of games.

The goal of a “cover charge” is to create a gate for the content that ensures the game progresses in a slow and predictable way, CCP Games’ CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson told GamesIndustry.biz. It discourages groups from creating “spam” accounts in a game that disrupt the flow for other players. But by converting the cover charge to in-game credits, CCP Games could also give players a taste of the premium parts of the game and encourage them to buy more virtual goods.

Dust 514 was one of the most delightful games to debut at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June this year. It’s a first-person shooting game that’s built into an existing massive online role-playing game universe called EVE Online, which already sports 400,000 subscribers.

Dust 514 is much like other FPS games at first, dropping players into closed, team-based matches with certain objectives like capturing a position or eliminating the opposing team. Each match that a Dust 514 player participates in is actually a contract created by an EVE Online player, a completely separate game set in space above the the planet where Dust 514 takes place. EVE Online features tactical space combat and lots of player-driven politics. Squads on the Dust 514 planet’s surface can fire artillery into space to damage ships in the EVE Online game, and ships in the EVE Online universe can initiate orbital strikes on the planet’s surface to help Dust 514 players.

They are two completely different games. EVE Online is geared towards hardcore MMO players and the average play session lasts around 3 hours. Dust 514 is a game for FPS gamers who only have 10 or 20 minutes to play. But they exist in the same universe and regularly interact with each other, creating an experience another MMO game has yet to match.

The game will be available for the PlayStation 3 in Summer 2012 and will go into private beta testing toward the end of this year.


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