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Destiny Microtransactions Dominate PSN Paid Add-Ons

A glance at the PlayStation Store’s current top paid Add-Ons rankings reveal that Destiny’s new Silver system is off to a strong start. To put it another way, that means that silver purchases are among the most popular paid add-ons being downloaded across all games available on Sony’s consoles. We asked Sony, and representatives told us that this listing includes add-on purchases in the last seven days. The three different tiers of silver purchases are all in the top five for recent sales, as you can see in the picture below.

Players are opting for the mid-tier purchase of 1100 silver ($ 10), followed up by the more expensive 2300 Silver option ($ 20). 500 Silver ($ 5) is the least popular option of the three, coming in at slot five.

It’s also worth noting that the only thing that is selling better than these microtransactions is The Taken King expansion itself. 

[Source: PlayStation Store, via Destiny Reddit]


Our Take
I am firmly in the camp that cosmetic microtransactions can be an appropriate way to help fund an ongoing game’s development and money making. Right now, Destiny’s microtransactions exclusively fuel new emotes and cosmetic event items. If Destiny begins to have Silver affect in-game functionality or progress, I’ll be a lot more negative about it. Until then, it’s hard to take issue with the system, or the enthusiasm that players have for finding new ways to express themselves with their in-game characters. Based on what PSN is reporting here, the Destiny community seems to agree. – The Feed

Valve: Skyrim was the wrong place to try and debut paid mods

Some Valve staffers believe the company’s short-lived paid mod initiative was a good idea launched in the wrong place at the wrong time, & they seem open to trying again — with a different game. …

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Dungeon Defenders II Comes To PS4 This Month In Paid Pre-Alpha

Both Sony and Microsoft are now experimenting with versions of early access. This morning, Trendy announced that eventual free-to-play Dungeon Defenders II will be arriving on PlayStation 4 this month in paid pre-alpha.  

Dungeon Defenders II, an action-oriented tower defense game, has been in early access on PC since the end of 2014. This marks Sony’s first major push into pre-release payments, as those that want in on Trendy’s pre-alpha phase will need to purchase currency bundles.

Trendy isn’t maintaining parity with the PC version. Some features will arrive first on console, including controller support and split-screen. Others will hit PC early access before making their way to PS4.

Dungeon Defenders II will eventually be free-to-play. If you feel the need to play early, you can buy in starting on September 29.

[Source: PlayStation Blog]


Our Take
I have strong feelings about paid early access games on console. I expressed concern when Microsoft rolled it out, and I echo those sentiments here. The average consumer won’t know what they are getting into unless these games are cordoned off in a separate area of the store with a pop-up or other informative screen prior to purchase. – The Feed

Machinima Under Fire From FTC For Failing To Disclose Paid Endorsements

The Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against video content creator network Machinima over failure to disclose endorsements. The company accepted money from Microsoft to help promote the Xbox One hardware launch and related titles prior to public launch. Machinima is accused of inducing YouTube video creators to portray the goods in a positive light without disclosing the non-neutral stance.

The FTC says that Machinima told creators that the videos must reflect positively on Microsoft. The Xbox publisher had the right to request videos be taken down if they weren’t satisfactory and owned the content as work-for-hire (as opposed to the YouTube personalities retaining control).

In short, these were paid advertisements with Microsoft the client and the five Machinima-partnered YouTubers as the advertising firm. One content creator, Tom Cassell of TheSyndicateProject, received $ 30,000 for two videos. Another, Adam Dahlberg of SkyVSGaming was paid $ 15,000 for his two submissions.

A second phase of the program opened the door to all influencers. As we reported in January 2014, Machinima required that those selected keep all aspects of the arrangement confidential. This, in turn, created a scenario in which every participant was induced to violate the disclosure rules set forward by the FTC.

Given that the appearance of neutrality was presented by Machinima partners in these videos, the FTC is pursuing action against the company. The Commission accuses the content network of deceptive advertising practices, failure to disclose compensation for endorsements, and false and misleading representation of seemingly impartial statements.

According to the FTC website, Machinima could be fined up to $ 11,000 for each violation. This would include the ten phase one videos created by the five content creators. It would also include the more than 300 videos uploaded during phase two. If the full weight of the penalty is levied, Machinima could owe more than $ 3 million.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment on the matter, given that it is that company’s campaign at the heart of this complaint. We’ll update should we receive a response.

[Source: FTC via Kotaku]


Our Take
When I covered this story 20 months ago, I said that YouTube creators (and Twitch streamers) need to develop their own best practices. However, that is different than violating FTC rules for disclosure. Machinima knew what it was doing by keeping its arrangement confidential. Viewers (and readers) have every right to know whether they are hearing untainted views of enthusiast press and video personalities. 

I’m glad to see the FTC taking a stand. I’m also aware that there are YouTubers doing it right, and they should not all be painted with Machinima’s brush. – The Feed

Where is your mod, now?: How Valve’s paid mod program imploded in four days

Valve Software wanted to see amateur modders get paid for their work. But diving headfirst into the tight-knit modding community meant more than ironing out legal and financial issues. …

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Valve changes its mind, removes all paid Skyrim mods from Steam

Valve has (at least temporarily) removed all paid Skyrim mods from Steam in conjunction with Bethesda and will issue refunds to anyone who purchased a Skyrim mod. …

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Bethesda breaks down why Skyrim modders ought to be paid

Bethesda Softworks has published a lengthy explanation of why it agreed to let Skyrim be the guinea pig for the (aborted) launch of Valve’s premium mod storefronts. …

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Update: Besthesda Explains Why It’s NOT Allowing Paid Skyrim Mods

Update: Bethesda has updated its blog to state that it will no longer support paid mods in Skyrim.

Hot on the heels of Valve's announcement that it is abandoning its paid-mod initiative, Bethesda has amended its blog post with a straightforward update:

"After discussion with Valve, and listening to our community, paid mods are being removed from Steam Workshop. Even though we had the best intentions, the feedback has been clear – this is not a feature you want. Your support means everything to us, and we hear you."

Original Story: Last week, Valve announced
a new update
to Steam Workshop that allows mod creators to charge money for
their content, starting with Bethesda's open-world RPG, Skyrim. The news was
met with criticism by some gamers, leading Valve's Gabe Newell to hold an impromptu
AMA on Reddit
to answer questions and concerns. Today Bethesda has written
up its own explanation of why it has chosen to participate in the program.

The post on Bethesda's
blog explains
that its participation in paid mods comes from a desire to
expand modding and support those making the content, and that it won't be
forcing mod creators to charge money. "We believe most mods should be free,"
the post states. "But we also believe our community wants to reward the very
best creators, and that they deserve to be rewarded. We believe the best should
be paid for their work and treated like the game developers they are. But
again, we don't think it's right for us to decide who those creators are or
what they create."

The post also breaks down how profit sharing will work.
Bethesda says it's up to the mod creator to decide how much to charge, citing Oblivion's
infamous Horse Armor DLC as the company's own personal growing pains for
figuring out what to charge. Whatever price is chosen, 30-percent of the
revenue goes to Valve and 40-percent goes to Bethesda, leaving 25-percent for the
mod creator. Think that's unfair? Bethesda explains its logic:

"The percentage conversation is about assigning value in a
business relationship. How do we value an open IP license? The active player
base and built-in audience? The extra years making the game open and developing
tools? The original game that gets modded? Even now, at 25% and early sales
data, we're looking at some modders making more money than the studio members
whose content is being edited."

Bethesda goes on to say that it considers this an
in-progress experiment, and that it's open to reassessing its decisions based
on feedback from mod creators and the community. You can read the whole post at
the link below.

[Source: Bethblog]


Our Take
It's great that Bethesda is outlining its decision to allow paid mods, but there are still tons of unanswered questions surrounding the initiative. While I think that mod creators should ultimately have the right to charge for their creations if they want to, we can only guess at the long-lasting impact that paid mods could have on the modding community. Will the availability of free, wacky mods dry up if everyone is inclined to charge a couple bucks for them? Will other publishers take bigger cuts or dictate what content creators can (or must) charge for their mods? And what will happen to all the websites and communities devoted to hosting and sharing mods? Only time will tell, but gamers have a right to be apprehensive about Valve's newest initiative. – The Feed

5 takeaways from Gabe Newell’s Reddit Q& A on paid mods

Some choice quotes from Newell’s Reddit Q& A that help shed light on what Valve hopes to achieve by allowing modders to sell their work — and how it fits into the company’s long-term goals for Steam. …

Gamasutra News

CD Projekt Announces Two Paid Expansions For The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Update 2: There has been some discrepancy over CD Projekt's plans for DLC. The promised 16 pieces of add-on content will be delivered at no additional cost to all players.

CD Projekt previously stated that it would only charge for content if it believed that users would appreciate was on offer. You can read that story here.

Update 1: We received information on the pricing, which breaks down as follows:

  • Hearts of Stone: $ 9.99
  • Blood and Wine: $ 19.99
  • Expansion Pass: $ 24.99
  • Game+Expansion Pass: $ 84.99 (Xbox One, PS4), $ 79.99 (PC)

CD Projekt reached back out to let us know that the expansion pass is the only way to pre-purchase the add-on content right now. We suspect the prices we were provided earlier will be attached after each of the content drops arrives.

Original Story:

CD Projekt Red has announced approximately 30 more hours of content that will be heading to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt as add-on packs. The company is selling an expansion pass now, but urges anyone with concerns to wait.

The first content pack, Hearts of Stone, is planned for an October 2015 release. CD Projekt anticipates this adventure in the wilds of No Man’s Land will last at least 10 hours.

The second expansion, Blood and Wine, will arrive in the first quarter of 2016. This one is targeted for 20 hours of material and will take Geralt to the new region of Toussaint.

“While we’re offering the Expansion Pass now, we want to make one thing clear: don’t buy it if you have any doubts,” says CD Projekt Red co-founder Marcin Iwinski. “Wait for reviews or play The Witcher and see if you like it first. As always, it’s your call.”

The expansions are coming to Xbox One, PS4, and PC. The game will be released on May 19. For more, check out our recent hands-on impressions and information on the title's second playable character.

We’ve inquired with CD Projekt about expansion pass pricing, as it wasn’t in the press release, the official website, or listed on partner storefronts. We’ll update should we receive a response.


Our Take
In addition to this (seemingly meaty) expansion content, CD Projekt is offering 16 smaller DLC packs for every player on all three platforms. It’s clear there will be much more game in the add-ons, but without knowing the price (yet), it’s hard to judge value. – The Feed