Steam Introduces Item Store for Microtransactions

The team at Valve have added a new feature to Steam called the Item Store which allows games and developers to sell microtransaction and cash shop items directly through the Steam client. This mainly has the advantages of making it easier for games to implement a cash shop without having to manage the technical aspects themselves, and because all the payments are processed by Steam, players don’t have to sign up for yet another payment service and can instead use a payment system they’re already familiar and comfortable with.

The first game to implement this new system is Rust, a buy-to-play title familiar to many. It’s expected that if the system is easy to use for both the developers and the users, many more titles will begin to implement it.

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The Danger of Steam Early Access

Early Access on Steam is an interesting idea. A game that’s still in development makes early builds available for people that want to pay to test them out. This gives the company some extra money to use on the game’s development while allowing some people to get any early taste of the game. This system does come with some danger to the game developer, however.

Many of the people that pick up Early Access Steam games are YouTube gamers who are always looking for new games and new content for their gaming channels. Picking up Early Access games allows them to feature games that aren’t available to the general public while giving them a new game to generate new video content with. They often do long, detailed series with these games. That means that before the game even officially launches, it’s already been thoroughly explored by many YouTubers and their viewers.

When the game does finally come out, all of the YouTubers and their viewers have already done everything there is to do in the game and are no longer interested, reducing the number of sales the game can have after launch.

It seems like more and more games are using the Early Access system to generate funds early on which also seems to encourage the games to stay in Early Access for longer rather than becoming fully polished and released.

So while offering a game for Early Access may get the company some extra development funds, it also can reduce their overall sales.

Guild Wars 2 Goes Free

Guild Wars 2, the flagship AAA MMORPG from ArenaNet, has recently gone completely free-to-play for the core game.  Guild Wars has always been a buy-to-play game, where you have to buy the game once and then you can play it as much as you want for free.

In an attempt to increase interest in the upcoming Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns expansion ArenaNet has made Guild Wars 2 completely free, where you can download and play the game for free without needing to buy it.  Free players have certain restrictions on their account which those that bought the game before it went free don’t have, such as the number of bag slots they have and the ability to use the map chat feature.

If someone buys the upcoming expansion it removes those restrictions from their account, giving them full access to all the game’s features.

If you’ve ever had any interest in Guild Wars 2 now is the time to check it out.

Caves of Qud Early Access

Caves of Qud is a science fiction / fantasy rogue-like game new to Steam early access, and it’s available for all three major platforms.  It specializes in using classic rogue-like graphics and interface design and deep gameplay.  Checkout the video here.

LEGO Worlds Early Access

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LEGO Worlds has entered early access on Steam.  In a bid to compete with Minecraft, LEGO has created its own block-based crafting and exploration game, with an emphasis on exploration.  Considering the LEGO toys themselves, the theme seems to be a perfect fit.  Ha!  See what I did there?

When you explore the game world various models are unlocked which can then be purchased with little LEGO coin things, which are also collected by exploring the world.  Once a model is purchased, it can be spawned into the world as many times as you want.  These models include everything from characters to scenery to mounts.

Right now it’s single player only, but a multiplayer version is planned for the future.  It looks like it could be a lot of fun and looks like it has a lot of potential.

WildStar Goes Free to Play

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Coming as a surprise to absolutely no one, WildStar, a sci-fi MMORPG, will soon go free to play.  To be honest, most people were surprised when it was originally announced as a subscription-based game, instead of being free to play from the very beginning.

Carbine Studios, the developers behind WildStar, seem committed to making sure the game doesn’t become pay to win, but instead stays fun for both free players and subscribers alike.  There are no level caps, skill caps, or gear caps for free players like there are in some so-called free games, trying to force players to pay for a subscription to enjoy everything the game has to offer.  Instead, it looks like subscribers and those that frequent the item shop will simply be getting convenience items, like experience boosters, and cosmetic items.

For full details, visit the WildStar announcement page by clicking here.