Ever since Valve introduced Team Fortress 2’s “Mannconomy” in 2010, in-game economies have become the norm for up-and-coming multiplayer games. After all, Valve’s digital content distribution platform Steam provides developers with the perfect avenue for broadening their marketing horizons, as the Steam Marketplace allows independent content creators (like modders) to upload their custom skins, maps, and 3D models onto a central community hub. Developers can then choose their favorite mods and implement them into their game, with content creator, developer, and Valve taking a cut of whatever profits the community items make as they’re sold in-game for real money.
Tripwire Interactive announced last night that their latest horde-based cooperative shooter, Killing Floor 2, will be joining the Steam Marketplace with the introduction of the “Trading Floor.” This announcement initially upset fans, who, in light Overkill Software’s recent decisions regarding Payday 2‘s microtransactions, were likely concerned that Killing Floor 2’s community-created content would offer stat boosts locked behind paywalls. Tripwire was quick to clarify that this will not be the case. In a rather sizable banner on the Trading Floor landing page, Tripwire states that community-created content will be purely cosmetic.
Structurally, Killing Floor 2’s “Zed-conomy” closely resembles current economies present in Team Fortress 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Over the course of their playing time, players will receive any number of weapon skins and clothing accessories that they can keep, trade, or sell to others on the Trading Floor interface, which can be accessed both in the main menu and in the middle of a match. Players may also find Horzine Supply Crates and (fictional) Encrypted USB Sticks during their slaughterfests. Like TF2’s crates, these can contain special variants of existing cosmetics. The crates must be opened by using Decryption Keys, which can only be bought through the Trading Floor and through trading with other players.
According to Tripwire, the items will be graded on a quality scale:
Cosmetic items and weapons skins come in 6 grades of rarity. (Common, Uncommon, Rare, Exceptional, Master Crafted, and Precious) Weapon skins are further modified by their wear condition. (Mint, Field-Tested, and Battle Scarred). Cosmetic items and weapons skins will drop for free in the first 5 grades of rarity. The 6th grade is only available by opening a Horzine Supply Crate or an Encrypted Weapon Skin USB.
Proceeds from the microtransactions will be split between the content creators and Tripwire themselves, who will use the money to fund post-launch content for Killing Floor 2.
Tripwire has promised that all of this new content will not detract from bigger updates to the game, like new maps, weapons, and game modes. In the Trading Floor’s FAQ, Tripwire stated:
Our plan is to continue updating Killing Floor 2 for years just as we did for Killing Floor 1. We will continue to add new perks, new maps, new zeds and other content we come up with for free. Just as the DLC in the first game, the money made on these items goes towards creating new (free) content, events and whatever else we can dream up for you!
They then address the topic of new weapons that offer new play styles and stats.
All of the content added in Trading Floor at launch will be cosmetic only and not affect gameplay in any way. In the future we may be adding weapons with new gameplay for sale, but this will appear in the “Shared Content” area on the server. This means that, if any player on the server has a weapon (like the Chivalry Zweihander now), then every player on the server will be able to use it. No-one gets any “advantage”. Co-op game – everyone starts out equal! Our goal is for any such weapons to be side grades anyway, so they won’t provide an edge over the current tier of weapon power.
Tripwire also defended their decision to include microtransactions during the game’s early access phase by stating that “[they] view the Trading Floor as a feature that needs iteration just like the rest of the features in the game. Early Access is the perfect place to iterate on the Trading Floor feature with the community.”
Some fans, however, remain unconvinced. The Payday 2 debacle has set gamers on edge when it comes to microtransactions, and some players feel that the presence of real-money marketplaces in an online game can degrade its integrity over time. How Tripwire will respond to these complaints as the Trading Floor develops will be seen in the coming months.
Meanwhile, an ominous message in the Trading Floor announcement warns players of an impending threat: “But the Trader is telling us you better hurry up, something else is coming. Something about what you’ve done to his … hmm that last part seems cut off.” This quip follows an Instagram message posted by Tripwire several days earlier, which, taken together, seems to hint that the boss from Killing Floor 1 – The Patriarch – may be making a return soon.