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Two Worlds 2 gets microtransactions, players get angry

Two Worlds 2 is a pretty old game—it was originally released in 2011—but it's been in the news lately for a couple of reasons. First, the good: After a slight delay, a new expansion called Call of Tenebrae was released earlier this month. And second, the bad: The expansion added microtransactions to the game, and players are not happy. 

The reaction can be seen in the Steam user reviews, which are "mixed" overall, but "overwhelmingly negative" recently. Part of the upset arose from the removal of the console commands that enabled the entry of cheat codes, but it was the addition of microtransactions at the same time that really aroused anger: Many reviews complain that the new store charges them to perform actions that used to be free via the console. 

But Dirk Hassinger, the vice president of business development at TopWare Interactive, defended the change, saying that the update simply adds features that have been in the Xbox 360 version of the game from the get-go.   

"For the DLC Call of the Tenebrae [the expansion], we made several improvements to the game engine and added features like achievements and a marketplace we took from the Xbox version," Hassinger said in a statement sent to Eurogamer. "We decided to release this improvement as a free update to all owners of the main game, independent of if they have purchased the new DLC (which requires the engine update) or not." 

Items available for purchase via microtransaction are "completely optional," he said, and everything players can buy, then can also find in-game. "Two Worlds 2 is not 'Free2Play' or 'Pay2Play'. Everyone who owns the game has the full product with all features and the full gaming experience," Hassinger said. "The only special items not in the standard version can be found in the digital deluxe content, in some special editions, or in the season pass. But these items are not available as in-game purchases."   

As for the developer console, it was removed along with the DRM, but TopWare re-enabled it after players asked it to. But Hassinger pointed out that, "to avoid cheating," it's not—and never was—available in multiplayer.   

A few hundred negative reviews probably aren't going to have much impact on the fortunes of a seven-year-old RPG. The bigger worry for TopWare is the impact it could have on Two Worlds 3, which was announced last year. The uproar may be relatively small in terms of raw numbers, but sequels to niche games tend to rely on dedicated fanbases, especially when they're followups to "mixed" oldies. At the very least, lingering bad feelings could make life a lot harder than it needs to be for the studio's PR team when Two Worlds 3 starts to move toward release.