When it comes to ways to monetize free-to-play games, just about everything is on the table. For Gazillion’s MMO “Marvel Heroes,” a big part of the plan since before it even launched was to have people pay for playable characters and alternate costumes.
It must have worked, because the game recently revealed two new “Advance Packs” to get the jump on some exclusive heroes and skins that non-paying players won’t have. There are two catches though: one of the packs is $129, and you don’t know when you’ll actually be getting those heroes and costumes. The only thing that’s certain is that you’ll get them a month before everyone else and that they’ll be yours “throughout 2014 and early 2015.”
That seems like a lot of uncertainty for a three-digit price tag. Gazillion senior vice president of marketing Ivan Sulic doesn’t seem to think so though, telling VG247 via email (and a h/t to Andy Chalk at The Escapist for pointing it out):
"“Taking pre-orders for digital goods (even undated goods) is not an uncommon practice. Season Passes permeate the console market, subscription MMOs still exist, and Digital Collector’s Editions are routinely presold well in advance of game launches and sometimes in advance of games even having launch dates.So, we don’t think we’re setting any precedent with our Marvel Heroes Advance Packs. Really, we just wanted to get something solid out pre-holiday that we felt was a good offer for our fans.”"
Actually, more and more games are going away from the “Season Pass” structure, but Sulic also compares the offer to a “book-of-the-month club.” In other words, you pay one price and lock yourself in for guaranteed new content on a regular basis.
Looking at it that way akes it sound a bit more palatable, but it’s still a lot of dough for a “free” game. If anyone out there is a big enough fan of “Marvel Heroes” to take the plunge, let us know in the comments section.
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