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Dust 514: 'It's the most meaningful shooter ever made'

As it enters open beta, CCP talks up its ambitious free-to-play PS3 FPS

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"At the end of the day, do you want to be the biggest shooter in the world for three months until something else comes out? Or do you want to do like we do and make a product that you think is going to do really well but might not be the next Battlefield release? If we can have the same sort of development as we do with Eve Online, where we're just constantly growing our game year after year after year, then we'll take that absolutely."


Emilsson also says he hopes the same principles that have resulted in Eve growing its player base every year since release will apply to Dust too.

"So if you look at sandboxes, what it means is you have a persistent universe. You can change that universe in certain ways, and you have a lot of freedom to do so, but the fact that you are changing the universe will also affect the destiny of others - the way you change the universe is a social interaction of sorts. And the idea is that, if you give players tools to create things in the sandbox, they will build castles. And because of the fact that they built and own these things, players will care much more deeply about them and be ready to fight for them.

"A single player can take down an entire alliance, if they're in a position to do so, and this affects the game for everybody. We think that this large scale social dynamic is really what keeps people interested and keeps the game fresh forever in a way, because all the content is the social content of players. So we can say that the gameplay in our game is the tools we offer players to change the environment."

Dust 514, which utilises a microtransactions business model, will also have to overcome some gamers' preconceptions about free-to-play games. Asked what advantages high-spending players will have over those who don't get out their credit card, Touborg says: "I'd say skill progression. I mean, we're not going to sell guns that are three times as good as anything else, that's not the kind of model we're going for.

"[There'll be] progression and XP boosts, there's a tonne of customisation options, things like that. I feel that we're being fairly soft on the monetisation scale, which is the kind of games I like as well. You're not going to be expected to drop $100 on the first day to compete, that's just not the game we're making."


Dust players can also expect to receive content updates free of charge, which is one of the reasons CCP decided to release the game on PS3 rather than Xbox 360. Touborg says: "There was a lot of stuff [which made us opt for PS3]. We think that Sony treats us really well; we've never asked people for money for an expansion to Eve, and Sony will let us do that for Dust as well, so we can update as much as we want for free and that's really important to us. There's just a lot of strategy and culture that we share with Sony, so they've been a really good partner like that because they fit our development."

Asked whether Dust could still release on other platforms in the future, he adds: "Right now we're exclusive with PlayStation and that's a model we're really, really happy with. Who knows where this game goes down the road."

CCP is at the beginning of a journey which will see it attempt to challenge the traditional console shooter business model of packaged goods and, in the most successful cases, annual franchise updates. It's a very big ask, but based on its success with Eve the studio believes it has the experience and the reserves to do so. CCP has set an internal target window for Dust's full release, although it isn't willing to disclose it yet.

Touborg says: "We have Eve, which grows every year and makes us a lot of money, so we're not like a start-up that's going to run out of money, we have the freedom to launch it... if I told you the original launch date for this game, when they thought of it, [we've gone way beyond that]. We have a game that we want to be really good, we're not going to suddenly run out of money and not be able to fund it, so it's going to come out when it's ready."

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