Steam Economy, Micro-transactions, and a Paid Game

This post was originally planned to be a reply to one of the more recent “Steam Economy” discussion threads. It became too long for that, so it is now in its own topic.

In order for a free-to-play game to be sustainable, there has to be some sort of revenue flow. This post analyzes the discussion from a majority of the previous threads like itself, and will attempt to get updated opinions and discussion on how the game should be financially viable.

I know that it’s easy to just answer in polls and not actually reply, especially for longer topics, but there’s so many different opinions regarding this subject that individual feedback is really encouraged.

Each section will have easy-to-quote questions that you can respond to, if you would like to use them.

Enter this post under the assumption that nothing is off the table for Unturned II. This discussion is primarily about the game generating revenue, and any “benefits” mentioned outside of generating revenue isn’t the main discussion point.

My opinions will be a separate post in reply to this one. Any concept art or detailed explanation of mechanics and such will also be in their own reply, likely separate from my initial opinions/responses to my own discussion points.

Pay-to-play Game


Devlog #008@SDGNelson, How about a paid 4.0?@Sirba

  1. Should the game cost money?
  2. If so, how much money should the game cost?
  3. If the game costs money—should the game be released at a lower price, and then become more expensive after it leaves “early access” (if it was to be released in early access)?

Most commonly, this is suggested as a deterrence for cheaters/hackers. It’s also a straightforward way to keep the game relatively free from (absurd) micro-transactions, and is a viable way of generating revenue.

Generally, what is the most you think is fair for an early-access indie game, that’s a sequel to a free-to-play game that used to be early-access?

  • 0
  • 5
  • 10
  • 15
  • 20
  • 25

0 voters

Official Server Pass – DLC


Devlog #008@SDGNelson

  1. Should there be official servers?
  2. If so, should official servers cost money to enter?
  3. Would a premium pass be better as a subscription-based DLC, or a one-time purchase DLC?
  4. How much should the premium pass cost? Does your opinion change if it’s subscription-based?
  5. What should be included in the premium pass besides access to official servers, if anything?

One of the few things “officially” mentioned was a premium pass that lets players enter official servers. The reason that the servers would require a premium pass to enter is because, for a free-to-play game, it is not sustainable otherwise.

Subscription-based DLC


  1. Does a subscription-based DLC have any place in Unturned II?
  2. If so, is there anything besides the premium server pass that it could be for?

Steam allows for DLC to be a subscription service, rather than a single payment for lifetime access. This model is usually employed by games MMORPG free-to-play games with areas/expansions locked off unless you are part of the subscription service.

For Unturned II, it would be locking off official servers from players if they don’t renew the subscription. However, other things could use the service too.

How should the Official Server Pass be obtained?

  • One-time purchase
  • Subscription-based service
  • – null –

0 voters

Permanent Gold Upgrade – DLC


  1. Should the Permanent Gold Upgrade return?
  2. If so, what should it still contain?
  3. Are there any other perks that could be added to the DLC?
  4. Should similar “micro-DLCs” be implemented, making this more of a “tiered” DLC?

This DLC is commonly brought up when people want to know if it’ll work in Unturned II, or it is brought up when discussing how the Official Server Pass might replace it.

It is generally understood that many people dislike the unlimited skin color customization, and the multiple character slots on the same server. Additionally, people point out that Gold Servers are incredibly underpopulated and very few exist.

Do you support Unturned II having a DLC similar to the Permanent Gold Upgrade?

  • I support a DLC similar to the Permanent Gold Upgrade, with similar benefits
  • I support a DLC similar to the Permanent Gold Upgrade, with revised benefits
  • I do not support a DLC similar to the Permanent Gold Upgrade
  • – null –

0 voters

Cosmetic Packs – DLC


  1. Do you support the idea of Cosmetic Packs?
  2. What would you like to see in Cosmetic Packs, and how much content should be in Cosmetic Packs?
  3. What’s a fair amount to pay for a DLC that only has cosmetics, skins, and/or other aesthetic knickknacks?

Cosmetic Packs are quite commonplace as DLC, and compared to U3 are essentially just glorified versions of the bundles you could purchase from the Stockpile.

As a form a DLC, it would make sense if all of the cosmetics, skins, and/or other aesthetic knickknacks were all made by the game developer (typically not community-made).

Do you support the idea of Cosmetic Packs?

  • I support the idea of Cosmetic Packs.
  • I do not support the idea of Cosmetic Packs.
  • – null –

0 voters

Steam Economy

What’s going to happen to economy items?@Sirba, Are we going to keep our cosmetics?@SirAdy, Lets talk about cosmetics and how they will work in 4.0@AlbatrozFeliz, Finding a way to get rid of cosmetics@OppTonic, Specialized “Economy”@AnimaticFreak, Opinion about micro-transactions@TheHuntedGhost

  1. Do you want to see the Steam Economy integrated into Unturned II?
  2. What do you think must occur for a proper integration of the Steam Economy?

Based on past discussions, many people seem fine with the implementation of a Steam Economy under a few conditions. It would be good for us to discuss the various conditions people have. Generally, it seems like many people at least have the condition of less “immersive-breaking” skins/cosmetics.

  • I support integrating the Steam Economy.
  • I do not support integrating the Steam Economy.
  • – null –

0 voters

Weapon Skins

SteamEco%20abomination%20gun SteamEco%20ornamental%20skin SteamEco%20warhammer SteamEco%20sleek%20katana SteamEco%20phantox

Suggestions for Skins & Cosmetics@Mrauksia

  1. Are you fine with the buying/selling of weapon skins?
  2. If so, what guidelines should be in place for curated weapon skins?
  3. How should skins be applied to weapons?

Weapon Skins are the most straightforward to consider. Buy a skin, apply it to a weapon.

While it seems that many people would appreciate less “immersive-breaking” skins, a lot of skin creators would also enjoy the ability to create better looking skins with the newer models and art design.

  • I am fine with purchasable Weapon Skins under most circumstances
  • I am fine with purchasable Weapon Skins if there are well-defined guidelines for them
  • Weapon Skins should not be added in any way
  • – null –

0 voters

Clothing Cosmetics

SteamEco%20cyborg%20mask SteamEco%20elephant%20hoodie SteamEco%20reindeer%20beanie SteamEco%20glasses SteamEco%20rainbow%20tie

Cosmetics for clothing@Pickuler, Revamped cosmetics, with drawing@Pickuler, Suggestions for Skins & Cosmetics@Mrauksia

  1. Are you fine with the buying/selling of clothing cosmetics?
  2. If so, what guidelines should be in place for curated clothing cosmetics?
  3. How should cosmetics be applied to characters?

The main issue people have with Clothing Cosmetics is that they hide the clothing that a player may or may not have.

While Unturned II opens up many opportunities for more interesting Weapon Skins, it may be worth putting harsher stipulations on Clothing Cosmetics. Regardless, people making cosmetics can still be more creative because of the increased number of clothing slots.

  • I am fine with purchasable Clothing Cosmetics under most circumstances
  • I am fine with purchasable Clothing Cosmetics if there are well-defined guidelines and stipulations for them
  • Clothing Cosmetics should not be added in any way
  • – null –

0 voters

Vehicle Skins

Rally%20Car%20vehicle%20skin APC%20Vehicle%20Skin NRG%20Vehicle%20Skin

Car Skins?@wp444, Car skins@Optamistic

  1. Do you support Vehicle Skins being implemented?
  2. If yes, would you have supported them in U3 if they had been added more frequently?
  3. Is there anything that would have to occur for you to support Vehicle Skins?

Vehicle Skins have been frequently suggested for Unturned II, in various ways. A lot of people suggest decals and such, and having them being purchasable as opposed to letting people free-draw on their vehicle.

Some may recall that in U3 when the Offroader was leaked with a bunch of camouflage skins, the backlash was pretty harsh. However, there are still three vehicle skins in U3 (one for the APC, and two for the Rally Car).

  • I am fine with purchasable Vehicle Skins under most circumstances
  • I am fine with purchasable Vehicle Skins if there are well-defined guidelines and stipulations for them
  • Vehicle Skins should not be added in any way
  • – null –

0 voters

Structure Skins

Structure%20Skin%20crate Structure%20Skin%20furnace Structure%20Skin%20door Structure%20Skin%20vending%20machine

Rust’s “Item Store”—Facepunch Studios, Rust’s “Community Market”—Facepunch Studios

  1. Do you support skins existing for placeable items?
  2. If yes, would you have supported them in U3?
  3. Is there anything that must occur for you to support them?

Rust, a game developed Facepunch Studios, has skins that players can purchase and apply to deployables and such. Most commonly, this is stuff like skins for doors or wooden boxes. For wooden boxes, this is more creatively interesting as some skins make “assigning” contents to a specific wooden box easier due to the design (i.e., a medical storage box).

  • I am fine with purchasable Structure Skins under most circumstances
  • I am fine with purchasable Structure Skins if there are well-defined guidelines and stipulations for them
  • Structure Skins should not be added in any way
  • – null –

0 voters

Decorative Deployables

image image image image

Rust’s “Item Store”—Facepunch Studios, Rust’s “Community Market”—Facepunch Studios

  1. Do you support the game having decorative, placeable objects that have to be purchased before they can be crafted and placed?
  2. If yes, would you have supported them in U3?
  3. Is there anything that must occur for you to support them?
  • I am fine with purchasable Decorative Deployables under most circumstances
  • I am fine with purchasable Decorative Deployables if there are well-defined guidelines and stipulations for them
  • Decorative Deployables should not be added in any way
  • – null –

0 voters

Gift Presents

Festive%20GP Anniversary%20GP Halloween%20GP Fools'%20GP

  1. Are you fine with gift presents (like the Halloween Gift Present) being added?
  2. How should gift presents be distributed, and what should they contain?

To clarify—not stuff like the Carbon Fiber Mystery Box, but stuff like the Halloween Gift Present. People do not like loot boxes, and federal entities do not like loot boxes. So, I’m not bothering with discussing things that fall under that specifically.

  • I am fine with Gift Presents.
  • I do not support Gift Presents.
  • – null –

0 voters

Server Realms


Minecraft’s “Realms FAQ” page—Mojang

  1. Do you like the idea of a subscription-based service that helps let people easily create and manage their own private servers (“Server Realms”)?
  2. If so, are there any additional benefits that it should provide beyond just being another platform for paid dedicated server hosting?

Inspired by Minecraft Realms, this has been briefly mentioned once as a potential way to generate a bit of revenue for the game.

Minecraft Realms is an official subscription-based server hosting service that allows players to create and manage their own private Minecraft servers. Hosted by Mojang, Realms provides an easy and fast way to create servers and allows the owner to manage them from inside the game, without prior knowledge of the concepts for hosting on the Internet.

  • I like the idea of “Server Realms”
  • I do not like the idea of “Server Realms”
  • – null –

0 voters

Community Hub

image image image image mage image

Unturned 4 Market@gaurd

  1. Anything to add regarding Steam Trading Cards, Steam Badges, or Steam Achievements?

A much smaller part of any one game’s Steam Economy revolves around Steam Trading Cards, Steam Badges, and Steam Achievements.

There’s not too much to be said on the topic of them, especially in relation to the core MTX analysis, but if there’s anything you’d like to add then go ahead. I’m mentioning it because all three of those features help “reward” players, and even though they’re not core microtransaction concepts, they’re still tied to the Steam Economy and Community Hub.

If you do bring them up, try to keep it relevant to the main focus of the topic—considering the revenue streams of the game is the main point of this discussion.


I enjoy this idea even though I’m completely against it when I play Minecraft. Not everyone has the capability to effectively host their own servers so having an official hosting service for the game seems like a wonderful idea to me. It could potentially bring in revenue if the prices are competitive enough with other hosting networks and if they are high enough to cover the costs of running it. I’ve never used Minecraft Realms on my own before but I’d like to see a few features that I at least think it has. I think that official servers should have these:

  • Built-in and familiar access to the Steam Workshop
  • A list of popular or hand-selected content along with a way to easily select them
  • User-friendly options for adjusting basic server config, setting maps/gamemodes, maybe map rotation for certain gamemodes
  • Separate lists for installing content equivalent to Rocket plugins in 3.0

Closest thing I’ve seen for what I’d like with custom content is USO and its buggy access to the Steam Workshop for downloading mods but I think for anything custom, people should have an easy way to find what they want instead of searching for specific numbers that tie in with stuff. Server costs could also be lowered by trusted volunteers and specific forum sections.


I think being a free to play game would be more attractive to new players.

But how does this support the gold version for servers?, Seeing in this way what would get players to buy the gold version if the free version offers pretty much the same thing, for me some less fanciful types of cosmetics could be added, such as color and styles of hair or prints for clothes.

Fortnite is a free game, however all players sooner or later end up buying some cosmetics generating a good recipe for Epic games.

conclusion about it:A free game ends up being more attractive having more players, in turn the players end up buying cosmetics generating revenue…

I think other benefits should be given to those who signed the gold, an example would be a story mode with protagonist, villain and storyline exclusive to who bought the game, and could test future maps, weapons and features to be added to normal mode survival in future.

My conclusion:A free game with not very fanciful cosmetics, benefits to those who buy the game, and story mode with plot, protagonist and villain only for those who buy the game.

Seeing as reload animations of devlog 22 or 23 (I forgot), I figured to have animation types for different weapons, to sell in the steam store.

In addition to DLCs that add more NPCS missions.

I also thought, the Map Editor only in the paid version.

1 Like

I personally like having steam trading cards but would like perhaps some more detail in the cards and rarer and more diversified cards and collectibles. Many people do not like them because they are a lot of the same and build up as clutter but perhaps if there was a wider array of them and they were awarded less often this would not be the case.

1 Like

I’ve never really seen a point in trading cards. They don’t really do anything other than show you’ve put enough time or money into the game to get them. Trading cards with some detailed artwork would be nice if we have them at all.


I’d assume that probably goes against Epic’s terms of service.

Many people dislike trading cards when you implement a large amount of them, since it makes obtaining Steam Badges and Steam Levels more time-consuming and more expensive.

I agree that I enjoy when Trading Cards have nice artwork for them, but the only reason I mentioned Trading Cards to begin with was because they’re technically part of the overall Steam Economy, although they are not part of the game’s individual economy.


That wouldnt work at all , somebody could just record the story , post it on youtube and then there is no point in buying it for that

Either have the game free, or paid. One-time payment for DLC official servers, sure.

If there’s subscription based official servers or in-game currency, or any kind of micro-transactions implemented, I will personally gouge my eyes out with a melon baller.

1 Like

Have you not already gouged your eyes out due to U3’s micro-transactions then, and if not is that due to the Steam Economy being implemented later, rather than something planned from the start?

And when you specify in-game currency, do you specifically mean stuff like Gems in a mobile game, or does that include something like Refined Metal in TF2?

I think the game is better off without cosmetics or really any marketplace. I’m sure they’d be implemented anyways, but some things like vehicle skins could be added in through gameplay and not something you buy. Same goes for cosmetics, as cosmetics can hide what you are wearing e.g. you could be seen as an easier target despite having clothes underneath with more protection.

With weapon skins, they should probably move away from the goofy patterns like:
and be made to be a lot more subtle in how they change the weapon, but enough that they aren’t rendered useless.

Micro-transactions in 3.0 don’t really change gameplay. In a whole lot of other games, you can buy in-game items with micro-transactions.

With in-game currency, I mean like anything from tf2, mobile games, v bucks in fortnite, stuff that you use to purchase stuff.

I mean the game has to have some microtransactions if it’s gonna be free

Currently with Unturned having no actual Pay-2-Win mechanics built into the game, normally the servers kinda do that themselves and quiet badly I must say, Unturned having its system like that has been a key role in being a free and non P2W game, if Nelson was to charge between 5 to 20 dollars I wouldn’t even complain, with over 2000 hours in U3 I find it to be well worth it and incredibly fun when you eventually find a good server with good staff, however I don’t feel that the EULA is strong enough agains’t the P2W servers, I understand funding is needed to run them but their are plenty of other ways to do it, such as like unturned you can donate to help run the server and in turn receive neat cosmetical looking items or kits, I haven’t thought of any other ways YET but their should be some.

1 Like

@Mr.Snowy The game will have different endings, plus if gameplays posted on YouTube completely spoiled the sale of games all companies would be bankrupt.

Pay-to-play Game

  1. Yes. he community has been built, the money could go a long way to make the game better and lastly it’ll hopefully help deter alst (to some extent).
  2. & 3. Really depends on the scope at the time you pay for it. If it has loads of content I’d be up for paying 30 up to 30 bucks. If it starts out bare-bones and builds improve over time I think it would be fair to scale the price accordinly.

Subscription-based DLC

  1. No. Games as a service exist to milk the customer and more often than not activley hinder the overall gameplay. I don’t ant to see U II go the way of the AAA and charge for every little thing.
  2. I can only see a subscription-style DLC work to support Nelson (much like Gold) since I’d wager continous income would be far better than one-time payments pluy I’d would give people a way to directly incentivize catering to the community on Nielson side since if people do not enjoy what he is putting out they can just cancel their support.

Permanent Gold Upgrade - DLC

  1. Yes, it is way to show support for the game.
  2. & 3. I’d be fine with giving gold players a golden name (much like in 3.X) and maybe have a server setting akin to Gold mode in II. Character slots and skin colour changes should not be a thing anymore tho.
  3. No. If you can already cancle ot monthly like I proposed above I don’t see any point in DLC tiers.

Cosmetic Packs - DLC

  1. Yes, if there are well-defined boundaries on what they can and cannot contain.
  2. I see Comestic Packs as outfit stlye bundles, so basically a shirt, pants, headpiece.
  3. Around 3 bucks a pop.

Steam Economy

  1. Yes.
  2. I think it is handled reaosnbly well in 3.X, so I’d be fine with that as a baseline and possible further situational improvemnts.

Weapon Skins

  1. Yes
  2. Should fit the overal theme (none of that overly flashy shizzel) and no paid-only camouflage.
  3. A similar system to 3.X will work just fine (equipoping them from the main menu). You should be able to disbale skins client-side so you can just “opt out” of seeing them on both others and yourself is you so choose.

Clothing Comsetics

  1. Yes
  2. Same as weapons. Should not be too flashy plus no paid-only camouflage.
  3. Same as wepaons plus they should not change the overall player shape nor the hitbox. A similar system to 3.X will work just fine (equipoping them from the main menu). You should be able to disbale skins client-side so you can just “opt out” of seeing them on both others and yourself is you so choose.

Vehicle Skins

  1. Yes. Seeing as there is basically only one vehicle skin in 3.x (Santas Sleigh APC iirc) I’d be fine with them making their way into the game more frequently.
  2. Same as any other skins, not too flahy and no paid camouflage, no change to overall shape and hitbox.

Structure Skins

  1. No, that is where I draw the line. The base game itself should have more than one choice of wall. If you want your base to look fancy, go cut down a different sort of tree.
  2. Nope
  3. I don’t see myself supporting that basically ever.

Decorative Deployables

  1. No. The community will find a way to abuse that real quick.
  2. Nope
  3. I don’t see myself supporting that basically ever.

Gift Presents

  1. Yeah. I think they work well in 3.X so I don’t see why II should not have them.
  2. Distribute them in the same way as in 3.X, with only slight changes to the drop rate scaling with play time (no drops if you play less than let’s say 10 minutes).

Server Realms

  1. Yes. Giving people the choice to get servers direcrtly from the game rather than some third party side cannot eb a bad idea in my mind.
  2. Possibly have them be limited in terms of gameplay altering plugins if they want to be listed in the vanilla list or whatever you want to call it. People should have the choice to play and host their game however they want, but the current filter settings are lackluster and too easily circumvented.

Community Hub

  1. I think skins as rewards for achievments should be a thing and handled similarly to the way they are being handled in TF2 ( the skins are not tradeable and marketable, can be used for crafting other skins but those skins inherit these traits). Cards and badges work fine as is in 3.X.
1 Like

I’ve added images to all of the sections to better showcase what’s going on and to help break up the text walls.

Why are you against it while playing Minecraft? Is it just more of a “I support it existing, but I just don’t plan on ever using it” or are there issues you have with Minecraft Realms as its own service?

I’d definitely support a custom “console” for managing Realms. It shouldn’t paywall features, but I’d support a custom interface to make it easier for people. Have some more direct integration with Steam features, since it’d be an official service and doing so as per Steam’s EULA would be easier.

While I’d be fine with a few purchasable gestures, stuff like reloading animations would require the animations all be the same length. That shouldn’t necessarily be that much of a hassle, but I don’t think either are something I’d like to see frequently implemented.

I think you misunderstood anonimoanbu, because by that logic then what’s the point of buying any game with a story? For example—“why buy a game like Red Dead Redemption 2 if you can just watch videos of it?”

I assume you may have mistook “story” to refer to just a short movie, or something else similarly not interactive. He’s referring to an actual story mode though, at least, a chapter of it exclusive to a DLC. I’m not sure how I feel about a DLC for a single-player campaign.

To clarify: TF2 does not have any premium currency that you use to purchase stuff. You buy stuff with actual cash.

Specifically, I’m referring to stuff like this: crate%20reskinning

I don’t really agree with Minecraft Realms because if I’m right, you can only have up to 11 people on it and once source I found said it costed $8 a month since I couldn’t view the pricing on the actual website. If I have to pay for a service I expect it to have more to offer than an official logo and a few fancy templates that people made, especially when the competition can offer a much better service for two or three dollars a month. If this server idea is applied to any game that is known for having mods then it should try to support them too. My view on Minecraft Realms is that its a great idea but it needs a fair bit of work. For my personal uses, I haven’t seen a reason for the Realms servers because if I ever needed one running for a few things I could just set it up on my own and have a lot more options for whatever few people I need to play with. For servers with a maximum under 8 people I’d prefer just having a peer-to-peer option like what some other games use.


Realms is a way to set up an easily available server for you and your friends to play on, for a relatively cheaper price than paying for someone else to host the server, or hosting it yourself.

Of course, there are free ways to host servers, but realms is a nice way to do it.

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“Relatively cheaper”
Last time I checked, $2 is a lot cheaper than $8 and has a much greater value when it includes decent tech support and lets you have more than eleven people on at a time. With the options that are available, Realms would just be a waste of money if you consider anything else you could do. Hosting yourself costs nothing other than power and internet access if you have the equipment to run it; getting a friend to host a server could potentially be completely free for you; and there are plenty of cheap but decent hosting services you can use for Minecraft.


In the end it comes down to convenience, especially if the person in question wanting to host has no technical know-how in the slightest. There’s also security concerns and peace of mind with using a Realms-esque system instead of hosting on your own PC, as well as not having to worry about specs or other things.

While I really don’t like Realms in Minecraft, I do support such a system in Unturned II, especially as it would both generate revenue effectively and make server hosting more accessible for the community. In addition, it would leave people like you to still be perfectly able to host your own server all the same without being forced to use the new system.