Sony has announced that Dust 514 from CCP is free. That’s right, free. Free to download, free to play. The only money you’ll have to pay is if you want to purchase virtual goods such as advanced weaponry, battle gear and vehicles — and even then, much of it will be purchasable via in-game currency as opposed to real cash. Like EVE Online, there will be a dynamic economy in place, so the market will fluctuate over time too — and Dust players will be able to interact with EVE corporations, so those running a bit low on cash will doubtless be able to ask their smuggler buddies for a loan if necessary. Some may know CCP as the creator of EVE Online, a sci-fi MMO with an open galactic setting. It’s a game perhaps best known for its sweeping fleet battles involving thousands of players, its dynamic player-driven economy, and for having (and allowing!) espionage and spycraft. We think of EVE as the ultimate sci-fi simulation, and that’s where DUST 514 comes in. It’s a whole new way of experiencing the EVE universe through what we call a “persistent shooter”. “Persistence” is the key word here. The world of DUST 514 doesn’t spawn when you fire up your PlayStation 3 — it’s always there and always being experienced and influenced by other players in the EVE universe. When you take part in events in the EVE universe through combat in DUST 514, you’re taking part in something greater than your own individual experience of that world.
With this being the case, this presents a couple of big scoops for Sony. First up, an entry in the popular EVE franchise coming exclusively to PS3 is a big deal. Secondly, the ability to play cross-platform — of sorts, anyway — with PC players is still an under-explored area, and one which seems unlikely to happen with the Xbox. And finally, the first free-to-play game to hit consoles will hopefully mean we’ll see more console-based titles following the increasingly-successful business model in the future.