Uncharted 3‘s multiplayer has gone free to play today as a PlayStation Network downloadable. This standalone edition of the game allows anyone and everyone to try out the game’s competitive multiplayer mode, though Free-to-Play players will have a level cap of 15. The cap can be raised via micro transactions, bumping it up to 25 for $4.99 or removing the cap altogether for $19.99. The Co-Op Arena and Co-Op Adventure Modes are also sectioned off into their own bundles, available for $9.99 and $11.99 respectively. The full digital version of Uncharted 3: Game of the Year Edition, complete with singleplayer and fully unlocked multiplayer, is currently available for $39.99.
Naughty Dog hopes that by making a portion of Uncharted 3‘s multiplayer available for free, they will be able to get more people playing as possible. Altogether Uncharted 3‘s multiplayer sees around 500,000 players a month. This is the first time that they’ve experimented with the idea of separating multiplayer into its own standalone package, and they intend to use the experience to decide how to approach digital releases going forward.
The idea of separating the singleplayer and multiplayer content of games is an idea that’s been contemplated by various developers for quite some time now. It’s certainly true that there exists plenty of gamers who are only interested in one or the other, and being able to pick and choose the modes they care about could be a way of winning over customers are sort of interested in the game, but maybe not enough to invest the full $60 into it. For example, while Call of Duty’s multiplayer is widely loathed by the more hardcore among the competitive scene, I’m willing to bet quite a few of them might be convinced to shell out $20 for the stupid-fun Michael Bay explosion fest of the singleplayer campaign every few years.
It comes down to whether the separate content bundles are priced appropriately for what you are getting. In Uncharted 3‘s case, this actually seems to be a little bit off. Add together all those micro transactions and you might as well just buy the full game. Buying the entirety of the standalone multiplayer seems to mean paying as much or more than the full game costs, but without getting singleplayer. Do you really need to take half a game and then proceed to cut each and every mode into it’s own package? Why not just have a portion of multiplayer be Free-to-Play, and a fifty-fifty split of multiplayer and singleplayer at $20 each? I don’t know. Business is confusing.
In any case, this experiment is sure to boost Uncharted 3‘s multiplayer traffic in the short term at least. Don’t forget to pick up your complementary Subway™ sub! (Sorry Naughty Dog, we will never forget that this actually happened.)