Back in January, I previewed a game that had become an addiction for me - Shot-Online. At that time, the game was still officially in Beta, though it was the best Beta version of a game I'd ever experienced.
Nobody ever expected that the game would ever be released as anything other than a free online multiplayer game; there was a pay component in place already to bring money into the company, and it seemed to be working pretty well. New courses were being released, improvements were being made, and things were good.
Then I read the press release. Well, actually I read the article here at Blogcritics, promising that Shot-Online was coming out in an actual box this summer. And I wondered what they were going to do with the free version I'd become addicted to. How were they going to get people to shell out $29.99 for the game when they could download it for free?
The game is pretty much the same as it has been. The layout is the same, the interface is the same. Once you're in the game, nobody else can tell you're playing the game out of the box.
But your $29.99 gets you a few goodies. First, you get a voucher for item mall currency. Normally, you have to spend real money for this stuff - $10 gets you 1,000 cyber cash, to use to buy better clubs, cooler clothes, and other extras that enhance the game and your character's skills. The voucher gives you 2,000 cash to use in the item mall, so there's $20 right there.
You can get a decent set of irons with that much cash, and still have a bit left over. You also get a voucher for a free "lottery card," that will give you yet another rare item that will enhance your stats, and an entry into some of the Gold Membership Invitational tournaments, where you can win really nice prizes - including real world cash.
I mentioned some enhancements. My favorite is the 'club fitting' feature, allowing you to customize your clubs. You spend item mall cash to get fitting tickets, then use those tickets to upgrade the power, impact, stamina, or skill modifiers of your clubs. Having trouble controlling that new driver? Boost its impact rating, and hit the ball long and straight.