Realtime Worlds this morning lifted the lid on the launch details for its closely-watched MMO APB.
Key to the announcement is the unveiling of 'RTW Points' a new payment system the studio has devised that covers everything to do with finances in the game, from paying to subscriptions to in-game items.
RTW's thinking is to offer a variety of ways for players to get involved in the game, whether they buy the game digitally or on disc, and if they want to play for hours or just dip in and out.
Players initially purchase APB – either in-store or digitally – and this costs $49.99 US, £34.99 UK or €49.99. APB includes 50 hours of gametime and unlimited free access to the Social Districts where all of the game's customisation takes place.
Once the 50 hours of Gametime are consumed, players can choose to either buy 20 hours of gametime hours for $6.99 US /£5.59 UK/€6.29 EU, and this is designed for 'those who expect to play infrequently' as gametime hours don't expire.
Otherwise, players can buy unlimited gametime for 30 days, costing $9.99 US/£7.99 UK/€8.99 EU - this is designed for frequent players.
All Realtime Worlds services, including gametime packages are purchased with RTW Points. This is s a virtual currency (purchased with real world money, of course) and is used to purchase services such as gametime or buy items from other players on the Marketplace. Players can sell their own items on the Marketplace to gain additional RTW Points.
Crucially RTW will not sell items itself because "other players should drive the item economy within APB via the Marketplace. Additionally, it is our belief that the prices for Marketplace sales should be set by you the player. You can choose to sell items on the Marketplace for either RTW Points or in-game currency," the studio says.
RTW does take a small cut when players sell items, but along with subscriptions and gametime payments, this is all to make sure the studio can "maintain high quality service and help fund additional development for ongoing content and gameplay additions".
When players purchase a copy of APB, they get an initial 100 RTW Points free to spend any way they choose - which should prove a taster for those interested in buying and selling the content they can create themselves with the game's detailed customisation tools.
Players can buy extra points in the following denomination packs - listed below are the pack sizes in points and their value in US/UK/EU currency.
It's not all payment-based, however. RTW will keep areas of the game open to all players once they have bought a copy of the game
In a guide to the model, RTW said "We believe that everyone plays online games at different levels of participation – some only play for a few hours per week or month, but many others play for several hours a week or more. Because of this diversity, we are offering the choice in value based on your specific play-style."
A statement from RTW founder David Jones added: “We wanted to provide a simple and flexible way for occasional and core players alike to pay for their play without being financially tethered to the game. The model also provides an opportunity for customers to subsidize their costs by leveraging their talent or market savvy in the ‘points’ Marketplace. Highly talented players could potentially even play for free in this way."