One thing that APB lacked was a good solid cash sink. This led to inflated prices on the marketplace and cash being a weak motivator to perform and win missions (although tbf that should be motivation in itself). One of the main cash sinks was meant to be ammo but unless you used the rocket launcher or sucked badly, it wasn’t so much of a drain. After an hour or so there was never a problem of affording new weapons. APB: Reloaded has addressed this by providing a 10 day life to all weapons meaning that you’ll constantly have to be spending to keep playing. As a cash sink system I have to say that it looks like it’ll work very well but I have some serious issues with it.
For new players coming in without a great deal of cash it can be quite off putting. If you aren’t sold on the game yet, is it really worth buying weapons knowing they’ll expire soon. Players will want to experiment and try things out but in say 3 sessions in a week you might not have sufficient time to get to grips before it expires. Switching a weapon to try another one can be off putting enough and knowing that you don’t get to keep the weapon for long, well its kinda shite to be honest.
Players will also want flexibility in their loadouts. Part of being successful in the game is the ability to adapt tactics if required based upon opposition, team mates and location. Waterfront is generally more open and suits ranged weapons more than Financial so you’ll want a balance, plus of course for Enforcers an LTL should the opportunity arise to team up with a bunch of Enforcers to arrest some Crim scum. It feels wrong that the player should be more concerned about the economics of their inventory than the gameplay and tactics.
This is even worse for casual players. If you only expect to play one or two times a week, your weapons will be expiring as quick as you can earn the cash to buy them. You’ll have to forget about ever buy nice cars or even expensive weapons!
The business model for APB: Reloaded is completely different to before, but at its heart there is still a micropayments system. Amazingly this also uses the same model. Personally I find it a bit much to charge a fiver for a gun that you only get for a month. The lack of selection for Armas Marketplace weapons doesn’t help this either as it is very limited. Hopefully full launch will see at least five times the current selection, otherwise I feel as though my points purchase may be wasted. There are permenent weapons available via micropayments. For “just” $50 you can have a weapon added to your inventory that will be always available, providing it is still of use in a couple of months time of course. To be honest the selection of weapons for in game cash doesn’t seem to promising at this point, but we’ll see!
So I’ve bitched quite a bit, but what would I do? Well I think there’s a couple of approaches. One previously suggested within the RTW APB team was “wear” on weapons, limiting their usage. This has the potential issue of having to repurchase your weapon all the time if you stick to a favourite and would need to be handled very carefully when your weapon is worn out. Despite the possible flaws it would be much more flexible to the player, allowing them to own a variety of weapons and select them in game more tactically rather than economically. Its still lose-lose for the player but perhaps a better approach. The other suggestion which is simpler and would make a world of difference is for base weapons to be permanent. They aren’t incredibly expensive so the power user, who has the cash sink issue, wouldn’t really be affected but the casual user would benefit greatly. It would also allow for players to have a constant tactical option, with progressed players constantly replacing their upgraded weapons.
But we’re still in Open Beta and I’ve barely progressed so hopefully the future holds more… and that by the time I next play that I still have weapons!