Microtransactions started off a noble practice as a way to let gamers play a game for free and invest in as much of it as they wanted. There are many games that used the pay structure with no seedy jabs at player’s wallets.
Angry Birds also started with its heart in the right place – A simple tower offence game that exploded into one of the biggest video game franchises ever, bringing in a whole new breed of gamer. It went on to spawn several subsequent games with different mechanics, and while it was certainly a little over-merchandised, it remained a game that was easy enough to enjoy in small bursts. Although now the series is beginning to fall into a spiral of trying to part as much money from fan wallets as possible. Angry Birds: Star Wars released on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 alongside the console launches, offering the same experience as its mobile counterparts, except now priced at $49.99. That ripoff was a stretch, but now Rovio has taken a step further.
Angry Birds Go!, a kart racer featuring the colorful array of birds and pigs just launched in New Zealand, leading to a few startling realizations. Pocket Gamer reports that the game seems to throw almost every free-to-play tactic in the book to squeeze as much money as possible from potential paying players: Buyable gems that turn into coins needed to upgrade cars, tangible toys that can be bought to redeem in-game items, purchasable power-ups, and the infamous experience-killing rest system that limits character uses all feature in the game. The most egregious offence of Angry Birds Go! goes to the Big Bang Special Edition Car which costs around $99.99.
By most accounts, Angry Birds Go! is a fun cartoony kart racer, but with monotonous grinding through levels required to get coins and the game stopping players from playing it every five races, it is a shame the design team’s work is being eviscerated by the reliance on microtransactions. Microtransactions have become an increasingly dirty word in the world of video games and have been quite a hot topic of late. There are an increasing number of full-priced games including the microtransaction model (see: Forza 5 & Gran Turismo 6), which seem to go against the structure’s origin in free-to-play games. Understandably this rubs many gamers the wrong way and the term has become increasingly reviled.
This was what Avalanche Studios co-founder Christofer Sundberg tweeted on Monday which is rather timely:
@iGradly Greed never works. We'll never compromise on quality or sell our souls for a quick buck. Things are changing and we need to adapt.— Christofer Sundberg (@CHSundberg) November 26, 2013
The abuse of microtransactions is something that is currently festering in the mobile market and creeping into more and more triple-A franchises. Most games that come out on smartphones and tablets embrace payment systems designed to squeezing players for more money, sometimes locking content behind pay walls, other times forcing a grind – but finding the balance between player experience and “value” is something the industry is still learning.
Are microtransaction prices out of control? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Angry Birds Go! is out on December 11, 2013 on iOS and Android
Source: Pocket Gamer