‘Dead Space 3’ Microtransaction Work-Around Glitches Could Be ‘Theft,’ But Visceral Insists They’re ‘Features’

By Joseph Leray

Let’s lay the groundwork for a fascinating story from across the pond about whether or not farming for resources in “Dead Space 3” constitutes theft, shall we?

“Dead Space 3” includes microtransactions, the increasingly popular bugbear that lets players pay extra for items and resources after having already shelled out $60 for the game to begin with. In “Dead Space 3,” the microtransactions are tied to the game’s new weapons crafting system. Players can mix and match gun components to customize or create new weaponry. These scrap parts and resources can be found by exploring, killing enemy necromorphs, or by deploying scavenger bots, but they can also be bought for real money at each crafting station.

After news spread that it’s possible to farm these resources in the game -- by finding and exploiting infinitely spawning enemies, for example, or by abusing the save and quit function to get certain resources to appear over and over -- the BBC weighed in with an intellectual property lawyer at Lupton, Fawcett, Lee & Priestley, an English law firm. Solicitor Sara Ludlam explains that using glitches to avoid paying for content in “Dead Space 3” could be considered theft.

“So, arguably if you go into this game knowing you are supposed to be paying for these weapons and you notice a glitch allows you to accumulate them without paying, that's theft,” she says.

Her concerns pre-suppose that farming for resources is a glitch in the game, but developer Visceral Games has been unequivocal about the fact that farming for resources was a deliberate choice. “The resource-earning mechanic in Dead Space 3 is not a glitch,” a rep told GameFront. “We have no plans to issue a patch to change this aspect of the game.”

The statement continues: “We encourage players to explore the game and discover the areas where resources respawn for free. We’ve deliberately designed Dead Space 3 to allow players to harvest resources by playing through the game.”

Ludlam’s argument may not hold water when faced with Visceral’s official response, but it introduces an interesting idea: how long until end-user license agreements start to include language that keeps players from trying to circumvent microtransactions?

It’s nice that the microtransactions in “Dead Space 3” are technically optional, and that, as our review points out, “the generosity of the in-game economy ... means that you'll have a lot of latitude in experimenting with the various types of weapons you want to create.” Still, I’m a bit leery of microtransactions in general, and with implication that putting a price tag on in-game items could somehow curtail player interactions in the future.

[BBC, GameFront via Official Xbox Magazine]

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