The free-to-play MechWarrior Online announced that players are now able to pre-purchase mechs from its upcoming Clan Collection , which will be released June 17. Prices start at $30 for the standard mech collections—going up to $240—and may include different variants, badges and custom titles, premium time, concept art, and other unique content.
The Clan Invasion also offers the Gold Khan Collection, a selection of eight, "limited edition" gold-skinned mechs, each for the bonkers price of $500. The MWO community has several legitimate issues with this, even if we completely ignore the ethical debate about $500, "limited edition," in-game purchases.
For starters, the gold mechs will have a unique bonus module, which players worry goes against Piranha Games' commitment to never make MWO a "pay-to-win" game. These mechs aren't out in the wild yet, so it's too early for us to truly know what kind of effect they will have on balancing, if at all, but this does seem like more than just a cosmetic upgrade.
A more salient point is that this new collection, which is out just in time for the Christmas shopping frenzy, precedes improvements and an expansion that players have been clamoring for since before the game's official launch on September 17.
Chief among these are the UI 2.0 overhaul that has missed its launch target several times since February , and the hotly anticipated Community Warfare expansion . The expansion adds another layer of persistence to MWO, allowing players to join different factions or act alone as mercenaries for hire. MWO creative director Bryan Ekman said faction warfare will add a leveling system and affect multiple areas of the game's economy as well as territory on its Inner Sphere star map. Piranha last said that there's a "strong chance" that UI 2.0 will arrive in January, and that Community Warfare will roll out in stages over the next six months.
Paying $500 for something dubbed "limited," but actually infinitely reproducible, may seem outrageous, but it may be just another sign of the times. It is in no way the only example of such in-game purchases in a free-to-play game, nor is it the most outrageous. Consider the $900 Conqueror Pack for the free-to-play role-playing game Path of Exile , or Star Citizen 's $10,000 Wing Commander pack . Mobile and social games have taught us that if players are willing to pay these amounts, developers will continue to oblige them.
The question is how this changes the priorities of a developer and what it means for players who don't want or can't afford these items.