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Steam indie hit goes against industry trends, removes all monetization

Co-op roguelike game Inkbound from Monster Train developer Shiny Shoe is removing all in-game monitzation to avoid FOMO and to get with player sentiment.

Inkbound monetization changes: a armor clad hero with some sort of crystal hammer

Monster Train developer Shiny Shoe is removing all in-game monetization from its Steam Early Access roguelike co-op game Inkbound, citing a change in “industry and player sentiment” as the main reason for the removal. With many triple-A games focusing on in-game currency and battle passes as a way to both fund development and make extra money, Shiny Shoe’s decision stands out.

Inkbound will remove its two in-game monetization options: a battle pass and an in-game currency shop, on Friday, October 27, 2023. Shiny Shoe says these extra monetization options were initially included in the early access launch “to support the ongoing development of the game,” and made wholly cosmetic to avoid gameplay impact and a fear of missing out in the roguelike game.

“However, it’s clear that industry and player sentiment is trending against the presence of these features. For that reason we are removing in-game monetization completely,” Shiny Shoe says. Content from the existing Leveling Pass (or battle pass) will be turned into “supporter pack” DLCs sold on the Steam store page, while “The rest of the cosmetic content will continue to be available in-game and earned via playing.”

The cosmetic shop and the items on offer will still exist in Inkbound, but the currency will only be earnable in-game. The existing purchased currency will also be converted into the new earnable currency, and players that have bought the old currency will essentially be refunded double its value in the new currency, regardless of whether they spent it in-game yet or not. “For example, if you purchased 1,000 Shinies in the past, regardless if you spent it or not, we will grant you an additional 2,000 Vault Dust.”

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If a player owns the Leveling Pass, they’ll automatically unlock all rewards, get 1,000 Vault Dust, and be in the same place as everyone else, who will see a new free track of rewards that offers both cosmetics and the Vault Dust currency from leveling up.

“At the end of each Season all seasonal free rewards will move into the Cosmetic Vault and can be earned from there. There is no FOMO,” Shiny Shoe adds.

This decision comes as major Triple-A games like Call of Duty, Fortnite, Overwatch 2, and more are based around the battle pass and purchasable in-game cosmetics model. Some games in the space are accessed via buying the game first, and others are free to start.

It should also be noted that Inkbound isn’t a free game, with the cost on Steam being $19.99 / £16.75, and a “small increase” to the price coming in the future, potentially when Inkbound fully launches. Shiny Shoe has essentially decided that the trade-off between the income from these in-game monetization methods and how it makes the playerbase feel at large is not worth it.

The reception to Inkbound from players also appears to be largely positive overall, as since launching in May of this year there are exactly 1,000 user reviews, with 86% of them being positive.

If you want to try even more games with your friends we’ve put together a list of the best co-op games available on PC right now, alongside some of the best multiplayer games you can play as well.