Eurogamer can megaphone that Dust 514, the exclusive PS3 MMOFPS that will exist within Eve Online, will now be free to download and free to play.
There was going to be a $10 to $20 cover charge for the game on PSN, but that has now been scrapped.
"It was a relatively confusing proposition," executive producer Brandon Laurino explained to Eurogamer, "and we wanted to make it unambiguous that this is a free-to-play game."
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."
Dust 514 Aurum credits can be bought in currency bundles that range from $1, $2 or $10 up to $20, $50 or $100. You'll also be able to earn and use ISK credits, as in Eve Online. ISK credits cannot be bought with real money. AUR credits credits can only be bought with real money. Some items will be exclusive to a currency type, although no examples were given.
Items available include vanity goods to customise appearances with; boosters that save time, such as double skill point (SP) boosters; variants of weapons that aren't necessarily more powerful - "side-grades" that look or play differently; services like character respecs; and lucky dip treasure boxes. "It's what has emerged as best practice," Laurino said.
"There is no micro-transaction that you can do that gives you an unfair advantage over someone who hasn't paid anything."Brandon Laurino, executive producer, Dust 514
"We already have hundreds upon hundreds [of micro-transaction items]. We have a cache of nearly a thousand different things at this point," he revealed. "Whether or not we expose them day-one is something we're still sorting out. It's like when you make a TV show: you shoot all the episodes in advance, but you don't put them all out on the first day of airing, right?"
Extra maps don't sound like they'll be among those items.
"It's not the classical, 'We're going to have four maps at launch...' We are covering literally a universe of planets, so there's thousands of different maps and they're all available to everyone who's playing," Laurino revealed.
"There won't be some section of the universe that's blocked off. It's really about what you build on those planets - some of those will be earned, some of those will be paid. Again, none will give an unfair advantage, but may have a unique look, or a certain tweak or side-grade."
The price of items can start as low as "a penny sort of value". How high they can go Laurino wouldn't say - mentioning only the bundled currency packs. But "nothing is off the table" in terms of item price limit and what Sony will allow, we were told. And there's a "gigantic range".
Let's hope there aren't any $10,000 gold coloured scorpions, eh?