After a five-year wait, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has hit store shelves, both physically and digitally. It retails for the standard triple-A price of $60. But, as is so often the case, there's plenty of ways you can spend more than that.
Naturally, there’s the Season Pass. Pioneered by Rockstar Games’ L.A. Noire in 2011, the season pass is now a staple of triple-A gaming. That’ll be another $30, please. In addition to providing the usual promise of including all the DLC at one discounted rate, the season pass also includes in-game bonuses as well – a tactic formerly reserved for pre-order or retailer-exclusive packages.
If you shell out your $30, you’ll get both the Assault and Tactical packs (detailed below), four Praxis Kits to enhance protagonist Adam Jensen’s cybernetic abilities, 5000 credits of in-game currency, 1000 crafting components, and a stash of currency and unlocks for the multiplayer mode.
Season passes used to lure us in with a simple discount on forthcoming add-ons; now they’re bundling in game bonuses as well. That sounds good – more for my money – but is it? Wouldn’t you rather feel the accomplishment that comes from earning these items on your own? Purists will say you don’t need to redeem those portions of the season pass, and they’re correct. But the frustration… the temptation…
And now we address the cybernetically-enhanced elephant in the room – microtransactions. And, as usual, there are plenty of them. We’ll start with those that affect the single-player game first. You can spend your way to upgrading Adam Jensen by buying Praxis Kits. Typically, these kits are earned through experience in the game, but why waste all that time earning XP when you can just open your virtual wallet?
The same holds true for in-game currency, typically found or earned by simply playing the game as it was designed. But if there’s a pricey in-game item you’re itching to purchase, just break out the real-world credit card.
- Praxis Kit Pack – $0.99
- Praxis Kit Pack (x5) – $3.99
- Praxis Kit Pack (x10) – $6.99
Or maybe you’d prefer a pre-made loot crate of a few goodies, but don’t want to spend too much more than you already have? There’s something for every style of play.
- 1000 Credits Pack – $0.99
- 5000 Credits Pack – $4.49
- 10000 Credits Pack – $7.49
- 15000 Credits Pack – $9.99
For those who plan to go in fighting, the Assault Pack ($4.99) scores you a specially skinned assault rifle – hold your applause, please – some ammo and grenades, a Praxis kit, and a special cybernetic enhancement to help deal with pesky enemy explosives. Stealthy and more discerning customers may perhaps consider the Tactical Pack instead (also $4.99), which equips you with a custom-skinned tranquilizer rifle, some smoke and gas grenades, and another custom augmentation.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided has a multiplayer mode as well, so there’s a microtransaction mode for it as well. It’s called “Breach”, and “chips” are used as its currency to purchase various boosters and upgraded weapons. Don’t feel like earning them while fighting off your friends? Buy some!
500 Breach chips must be significant, since this “micro” transaction is half the cost of the base game. It’s still a discount of $7.50 over buying them in packs of 100, so perhaps it’s worth it to someone.
- Breach Chipset Pack (x10) – $0.99
- Breach Chipset Pack (x50) – $4.49
- Breach Chipset Pack (x100) – $7.49
- Breach Chipset Pack (x500) – $29.99
Lastly, we have a mobile game tie-in, with Deus Ex: GO, part of Square Enix’s successful (and fun) series of turn-based “GO” games, including Lara Croft: GO and Hitman: GO. Deus Ex: GO is available for both iOS and Android devices for $4.99. Solving puzzle levels can net Deus Ex: Mankind Divided players up to five additional Praxis kits. Note that this offer only applies to PC and Xbox One players; there’s been no word on why PS4 players were left out of this moneymaking deal.
Back in June, multiplayer producer Fleur Marty told GameSpot: “We don't want the game to be pay to win, especially since we're starting with a triple-A game that people are already paying for.” Those were her words, on the record. They sound hollow now, since you can pay half again the price of the game and receive an incredible amount of in-game currency.
While there’s no such damning quotation available for the single-player experience, the list of available microtransactions shows how easily a player could buy his or her way to a serious advantage in the game. How much easier must the early levels be if you start out with high-grade weapons and other gear?
That’s got to cause heartburn for the game’s designers. They put in unfathomable hours, frequently over several years, carefully balancing player rewards and upgrades. And then the finance department decides to upend all your work with microtransactions. Just so they can grab a quick handful of cash from the frustrated or impatient.
Season passes and microtransactions are successful business models, and therefore, here to stay. They've been bringing in money for publishers for half a decade now. They're not going away. We don’t have to like them, but we don’t have to use them, either.