Uncharted 3 Multiplayer Goes Free-to-Play

It looks like Uncharted 3: Drakes Deception developer Naughty Dog will try its hand at the free-to-play market. The multiplayer aspect of Uncharted 3 is going free to play and is available for download on the PSN store today, along with a number of new micro transactions.

Gamers can experience the multiplayer up to level 15 for free, but afterwards must pay $5 to be able to reach level 25 or $20 dollars to remove the level cap altogether. Reaching level 15 does not mean that you can’t play the game anymore, however, as players will continue to earn experience points at normal rates. If they choose to unlock the level cap, then they will automatically be bumped to the level equivalent of how much experience they had earned beforehand.

Head game designer Robert Cogburn told Joystiq that the reason that Uncharted 3 will be moving toward a free-to-play model is so that the company could try out “new business models” and see what “people gravitate to.”

Here’s a rundown of what will be made available on the PS Store:

  • Competitive multiplayer up to level 15: free
  • Level cap raised to 25: $4.99
  • Co-op Arena with Shade Survival Mode: $9.99
  • Co-op Adventure with Fort Adventure DLC: $11.99
  • Level Cap Removed: $19.99
  • Uncharted 3 GOTY Digital Version: $39.99

The only problem with this so called “free-to-play” model that Naughty Dog has adopted  is that it’s not a really free to play. Free-to-play games do not, and certainly should not, put level caps on its players when leveling translates into unlocking better weapons, equipment and perks. Reaching Level 15 in the Uncharted 3 multiplayer  isn’t going to get you very far, and is essentially going to put you at a disadvantage when put up against players who purchased the full version of the game or chose to pay to remove the level cap.What it boils down to is that Naughty Dog is essentially releasing a demo for the Uncharted 3 multiplayer and calling it a free-to-play game. Charging players to have a shot to being competitive is a despicable practice, as it breaks the free-to-play model and gives all the free to play games that get the model right a bad name. Worst of all, it turns free-to-play into “pay-to-play.”

Nevertheless, this only points to a more unsettling DLC trend. DLC is already bad enough and now Naughty Dog is trying to make it even worse by breaking up Uncharted 3’s multiplayer components into small DLC packages. While this may only be a test for Naughty Dog, if it does well enough, then what stops them from making micro transactions the heart of all their games? Micro transactions are becoming more commonplace and absurd within the industry. It won’t be to long before Naughty Dog’s begins to sell multiplayer, campaign, color, and sound separately.

Its a shame that Naughty Dog has stopped to such low practices. I like the Uncharted series, it holds a lot of good memories for me, but if Naughty Dog is going to tell me that they are legitimately putting out a free-to-play game when they so clearly aren’t then I am not sure how much I can trust them from now on. There is still a chance for Naughty Dog to redeem themselves, however, it will require them to never implement this type of model into any of their future games.