(UPDATE: GamersFirst offers recourse on the anti-consumer claims, and their CEO addresses the security concerns at GamersFirst.)
Kalends will be publishing the upcoming third-person shooter from YingPei Games, Mercenary Ops. We recently keyed gamers in on how the company plans to handle hacked accounts, item restoration and customer satisfaction, well the producer also talks more about the cash shop and the monetization method.
Mercenary Ops producer Jason Sharp candidly explained some of what gamers can expect from the upcoming free-to-play shooter and some of its cash shop and microtransaction functionalities.
Gaming Blend: It's a given in most free-to-play monetization systems that cosmetic items will be available for purchase, but what about things such as armor or weapons? Will players be able to unlock more powerful weapons and armor, specifically, from the cash shop?
Jason Sharp: We don't plan to offer players stronger, more powerful weapons and armors in the cash shop, just more of a variety. A loot system is already in place that makes it easy for players to unlock almost everything in the game, and anyone that does not want to spend money will still have access to all the weapons and armor. We have relied heavily on testing the game internally to make sure Mercenary Ops remains balanced and competitive for everyone. In fact, the most powerful weapons in the game cannot be bought at all; they can only be obtained by completing difficult challenges or defeating bosses.
Gaming Blend: I'm not entirely privy to the game's customization setup, but in Blacklight: Retribution it's possible to buy upgrades from the cash shop for a small price, such as silencers, clip variations, and other modification parts. If Mercenary Ops uses a weapon customization system will gamers be able to purchase individual parts from the cash shop?
Jason Sharp: Mercenary Ops does have a weapon customization system in place. However, most modifications will be available only for in-game currency, which is awarded through the game's loot system.
Gaming Blend: A recent trend for most big titles that go free-to-play involves a premium-access feature, or where a small monthly fee grants discounted access to everything in the cash shop as well as increased experience and loot options. Games such as APB: Reloaded, Tribes: Ascend, Global Agenda, DC Universe Online and Champions Online all utilize this varied monetization feature. Is this being considered for Mercenary Ops as well? For instance, enabling gamers to pay a flat monthly fee for discounted cash shop items or will the game simply stay free-to-play with optional cash shop items?
Jason Sharp: We have been playing around with this option for quite a bit, and it does remain a possibility. However, I cannot say for sure right now as we have not finalized our monetization plans yet. For now, all we can say is that Mercenary Ops will be free to download and play when it launches this summer, and an optional micro-transaction system will be in place for those who are interested.
Gaming Blend: GamersFirst's recent game went under fire for their no-refund, no-restore, no-return policy. Accounts getting hacked is bound to happen, are there policies already in place regarding the way "stolen" cash shop items will be handled?
Jason Sharp: It is really unfortunate when a company has such an unfair attitude towards its players. At Kalends we have a very different approach; we take our customer service very seriously and because of this, will work openly with our players to resolve any issues. In legitimate cases refunds, restores and returns will always be granted. We are also expecting far fewer cases of "stolen" cash shop items since there is no item trading in Mercenary Ops.
Our thanks to Sharp and the rest of the team for allowing us to bug them with questions, but we'll be sure to keep everyone posted on additional details and information regarding the game when it launches this summer. You can sign-up right now for the closed beta of Mercenary Ops by paying a visit to the Official Website.