Mass Effect 2 Free And Paid Downloadable Content Plans Clarified

News this week of free-for-some downloadable content plans for Mass Effect 2 generated confusion about who will have to pay for what. Answers are emerging, including more free content and a $15 cost for used-game consumers who want it all.

The main element that has puzzled gamers is The Cerberus Network, which was announced on Tuesday as a portal that would grant Mass Effect 2 gamers access to free downloadable content and news about new offers. The Network is free to consumers who buy a new copy of the game, but would cost those buying the game used an unspecified fee. That fee would possibly cancel out some of the savings a used-game purchaser would gain by not buying a game new.

Kotaku has been able to confirm that the Cerberus Network is currently listed on the servers of Mass Effect 2 publisher EA as costing 1200 Microsoft Points, or $15. That is the same price that BioWare/EA's previous game, Dragon Age: Origins, charged used-game shoppers in order to access its similar free-for-original-consumers DLC.

On Wednesday, before that $15 price came to light, Greg Zeschuk, co-founder of Mass Effect 2 development studio BioWare told the live audience of Kotaku Talk Radio, this website's weekly podcast, that the plan is for the Cerberus Network to extend Mass Effect 2's appeal. "For us, really, the Cerberus Network is a way to reward our fans and give them a long-term relationship," he said. "There will be some free stuff ... There will be surprises that we spring on people, [saying] 'Hey there's a new x,y, or z, go check it out.' That's one of the benefits of being part of the Cerberus Network."

What the Cerberus Network won't be, Zeschuk said to ally concerns, is a requirement. People will not need to be a part of the Network in order to make future Mass Effect 2 DLC purchases. "You could either join it or not join it," he said. "You could still get... DLC ... for purchase."

The free day-one DLC offered via the Cerberus Network includes a set of armor, a gun and a new character who is introduced via an extra mission. EA confirmed to Kotaku today that the previously announced Hammerhead hover tank will also be a Cerberus offering, free to those who have joined the Network.

Zeschuk said that EA will pay close attention to how these DLC offerings are adopted by Mass Effect 2 players. That comment seems to leave the company room to be adaptable.

The BioWare chief also said that all of this will be much more clear to owners of the game, who will be able to use a virtual laptop interface to check out what they can get, when they can get it and for how much.

Mass Effect 2 will be out for the Xbox 360 and PC next week.