Ex-Naughty Dog dev explains the studio’s outlook on microtransactions

Naughty Dog’s inclusion of microtransactions in Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End’s multiplayer has come under fire since the studio confirmed that players can unlock weapons and other perks with real money. However, the studio’s mindset behind this is that if fans are willing to pay for content then that should be an option for them instead of using in-game currency, according to former Community Strategist Eric Monacelli.

Microtransactions tend to get a sort of negative connotation in the games industry,” he explained to MCV. “If you remember back in the day, people bristled when they sold horse armour [for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion]. It’s something that has always happened.

“But if it’s good enough content and you want to pay for it, why not pay for it? That’s what it comes down to.”

Monacelli also spoke about the common misconception that studios and publishers opt to hold content back from consumers at launch in order to charge for it later, explaining that post-launch additions are often a result of player feedback, citing some of the downloadable equipment in Naughty Dog’s most recent game The Last of Us as an example.

A lot of times I’ll hear people say: ‘That’s just something they cut from the game so you can pay for it.’ No, often it’s not,” he retorted.

“A clear-cut example of that is the burst rifle in The Last of Us. A lot of people thought ‘Why are they charging for guns?’ We did the research and noticed that a lot of players were having trouble jumping into the game for the first time, so we wanted to give people a weapon that was easily accessible and would give them a bit of a leg-up. There were other weapons if they were a more experienced player that they could buy – it’s up to them. If you’re already kicking ass, you probably don’t need these, but if you want ’em, have ’em. It’s just a matter of personal preference.”

Naughty Dog released its first ever story DLC with The Last of Us: Left Behind, and plans to have a similar add-on for Uncharted 4, but doesn’t have a concrete plan as to what the story will entail. Monacelli explains that, to Naughty Dog, the more work that a studio puts into additional content for a game, the higher the price should be, calling Left Behind “essentially the second Last of Us game.”

“There are hot debates around this all the time in the office, because everybody’s got their own opinion. For me, the more thought that’s put into DLC, the more you should be able to charge for it, because it’s one of those things where you’re creating another game unto itself – The Last of Us: Left Behind was another game. It’s essentially the second Last of Us game, right?

“It’s work, and you should pay for good work.”

Naughty Dog is currently working on Uncharted 4, which is coming to PlayStation 4 on March 18th. For more on what is supposed to be Nathan Drake’s final adventure, check out our thoughts on how Uncharted should wrap up.

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