‘DC Universe Online’ Opens In-Game Marketplace; Could It Be Heading Free-to-Play?
In a slight change of pace from its usual mission and/or cosmetic-oriented updates, Sony's DC Universe Online MMO has added its own official DCUO Marketplace, which allows you to buy new in-game content with real-world money. According to Massively, the marketplace currently only stocks three items including Proto Repair-Bots for repairs on the fly and two grades of Vault tickets, which give players access to certain rewards. All three items can be purchased using Sony's standard MMO currency Station Cash, which players can buy to fund a virtual wallet -- kind of like digitally trading quarters for tokens at an arcade. It's an interesting move, particularly since it's something other MMOs have done to prepare for a transition from pay-to-play -- which DC Universe Online currently is -- to free.Although there's not a lot to shop for yet, the official DCUO FAQ page says "Wearables, Vault tickets, convenience items and other fun wares will be found in the Marketplace." Fans have had access to plenty of special wearables, but the term "convenience item" is a bit intriguing. Players on the villainous side of the fence might consider an item like Kryptonite convenient from time to time.
There's currently no word on when more items might crop up, but the addition of microtransaction features to the game could open up a lot of new possibilities for players. Who wouldn't like to be able to buy a Cosmic Treadmill or Mother Box to call their own? Of course, given the game runs $40-50, plus a $15 per month subscription fee, some players may want to the hold the line at... well, a dollar amount lower than what they'd be spending to buy a lot of extras.
Kotaku points out that microtransaction features have been tapped by many other MMOs as a means of taking a basic game free-to-play while continuing to monetize the title by granting beefier access/options for a price. Given that DCUO is just shy of seven months old, that scenario probably won't play out in the immediate future or perhaps even ever -- especially since the game's price has remained steady since launch -- but it's interesting to ponder the future considering fellow superhero MMOs Champions Online and City of Heroes have gone free-to-play, Marvel's Super Hero Squad Online was free at launch and Marvel's upcoming MMO written by Brian Michael Bendis will be free.