I want to begin this by saying first and foremost that I am a fan of Bad Company 2. The games multiplayer is rewarding in its own right and can be a lot of fun. While waiting for the update to download for the game last night, I noticed in the store that people can now purchase the ability to completely unlock an entire class tier of weapons and gear. What that means is that rather than playing enough matches to earn the points to unlock it that way, by paying for these unlocks you have full use of the items without waiting.
Along with full unlocks up for sale, players can now purchase the SPECAT skins and guns that were previously available through a Dr. Pepper promotion. This information gave me pause and caused me to debate with myself the merits of such actions.
On one hand I can approve of making the unlock kits available for those who have other obligations and are unable to spend the massive amounts of time required to unlock these sort of things. The kits make it available to use the class specific tools such as the Defibrillator for the medic class that normally have to be unlocked. It also unlocks the class specific weapons and upgrades relating to that class. Unlocking the better weapons and scopes which make using them easier.
On the other hand it seems unfair to offer these unlocks for sale as it devalues the work that players previously put in, and rather than the weapon being unlocked by skill it was unlocked for a credit card number which takes no skill at all. One could even go so far as to say that if this was the plan, why have the gear unlockable at all? The answer is that the player investment model has become a hot commodity in games as of late, much as bullet-time became an over used gimmick in movies after the first Matrix film came out. Game developers see that consumers want a reason to keep coming back and so they oblige them. I fully support player investment as it gives a sense of accomplishment and a reason to play when otherwise you would not keep at it. What does bother me is DICE making these investments available through monetary means rather than solely through skill.
It is a debate that has merit on both sides of the argument and in the interest of full disclosure I have to say that personally I am torn between both arguments. I do not have the time I would like to have playing Bad Company to unlock all the parts so this kit purchase is interesting to me. On the other hand it feels a bit too much like instant gratification which almost always leads to that empty feeling a few minutes or hours after you’ve gotten what you wanted, much like eating at your local fast food restaurant. The point of player investment is working towards a goal and with that goal easily obtained for 160 MS points that goal becomes moot. In the end this decision remains as it always was, with the consumer. Only you can decide whether you want to earn your guns the hard way or just buy them from the store.