Dust 514 to establish universal PSN microtransaction rules; Game could still hit retail

Sony ‘negotiating PS3 virtual item policy’

Sony Computer Entertainment is negotiating an in-game currency policy for all virtual items traded on PS3, the CEO of CCP Games has said.

Hilmar Pétursson told Develop that the studio was “breaking new ground” in outlining protocol on how developers can trade goods across the PlayStation Network.

It is expected that the negotiations will establish pricing tiers of virtual items, as well as the revenue split between Sony and developers.

The talks could pave the way for a more standardised virtual item policy for other third-party developers. It could also open the floodgates on in-game item sales across the PlayStation Network and, in theory, encourage more free-to-play games on PS3.

“We’re having many meetings with Sony to ensure they have solid policies on virtual currency,” Pétursson said in a new interview with Develop.

“Given the amount of back and forth there, we can definitely see us breaking new ground.”

He confirmed that the revenue split on virtual items was still a topic for negotiation.

CCP will this year launch its online PS3 shooter Dust 514 – a game that will unite PlayStation owners and PC-bound Eve Online customers within the same server.

Like with Eve, Dust players can buy and trade in-game items with virtual currency, which will likely be purchased over the PlayStation Network.

‘Click and mortar’

Dust 514 has yet to be ruled out for sale at retail, CCP confirmed. That in turn could spur Sony to sell custom virtual currency cards in store.

David Reid, CCP’s newly promoted marketing executive, said the meetings with Sony have been frequent and “fantastic”.

“We are both trailblazing together. CCP and Sony are right there in the same room figuring all this out together. I’ve only joined the company for about 72 hours and about half that time is speaking to Sony,” he said.

“If there is a retail play, Sony has tremendous routes into that. They have PlayStation Network cards sold over the counter. There’s so many ways for us to get our brand everywhere.”

A version of Dust 514 will also appear on PS Vita. That could mean the game’s server will connect to PS3 and PC, possibly with a universal currency.

Pétursson said the PS Vita game would “give people access to more asynchronous parts of the game”.

“But now, having looked at PS Vita, I’m sure our teams will have many ideas as soon as they get hold of the device for themselves,” he said.

“By the level of commitment Sony is giving us, and how willing they are to respond to the changes in the industry, it’s really encouraging,” he added.

“We continually write information about the game on the PlayStation Blog, and Sony will be participating in [annual community event] Eve Fanfest. Sony has a huge commitment to that show, and they will be reaching out to the Eve community and showing off live demos for the first time.”

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