Microtransactions: In-game iPods and Vagrant Story PSP

February 9th, 2009


Something that I’ve discovered over my time writing about games is that sometimes I think of some really neat ideas that unfortunately don’t hold enough weight to substantiate a single article. I quite lazily just let these ideas slip in favour of something a bit more fully fledged. On the other hand, when it comes to some bigger ideas I’ve perhaps written too extensively about them (*dodges tomatoes while writing another Metal Gear article*). So in order to strike a balance, I figured that maybe I could package these smaller ideas into a single, re-occurring post, add a 95 cent price tag and hence I called it Micro-Transactions. You’ll get the gist.

More iPod in Games

Metal Gear Solid 4 – oh wait, I thought I wasn’t going to do that – introduced the idea of equipping and listening to an in-game iPod while playing. It’s a neat little idea that has many benefits like the pre-installed and later downloadable podcasts offered by the development team, which is similar to optional voice commentary for DVDs. Littering music tracks around the levels also provides an interesting alternative to rewarding players for exploration.

I wonder when we’ll see this idea more widely adopted. I personally loved the idea of scouting out songs to play on the go. If such a service was available through the console interface itself (and activated within game), then this would be an excellent platform for bridging the original soundtrack, director commentary and your own music collection stored on the internal hard drive. I have a PS3, so I think that the interface on pressing the PS button could serve well to accommodate such a feature. Furthermore, what about games which offered free music tracks as rewards. I mean some of us complain about how game music should be free to take, because we own the game. Why not just include DRM-free MP3s as unlockables within the game, providing the option to download them to disc.

The developer podcasts could act as free downloadable content (incentives for both developers who get to voice their feelings and publishers whose game receives added attention for the new content). Then there could be sponsored advertising channels/radio stations/regulated news casts. So many interesting possibilities.

Vagrant Story PSP

It honestly frustrates me to think of all this talk of the PSP being on its way out. Just like the excuses that the PSP was a flop, this holds no weight (case in point, Sony have dug 30 million plus consoles into a previously Nintendo only market). The console has plenty of life left in it and while it is true; the past few months have been notably quiet, the PSP seems to be getting another shot in the arm this year, thanks largely to Square Enix.

Much like they did with the DS, S-E are saturating the console with a series of exclusives and ports with games like Final Fantasy Dissidia, Third Birthday, Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and Star Ocean: Second Evolution. Many of their other PSP titles have included updated ports like Final Fantasy I + II, Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth and Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions.

With all this said, it would be great if S-E ported over their other PSone game set in Ivalice – the first being FF Tactics – Vagrant Story. Unlike the other few ports, Vagrant Story is much more technological intensive game and would only require a few small alterations to retrofit it to the PSP’s widescreen technology. Also the (needlessly) complex item crafting system could be made easier with online trading of items. Again, just pondering.