Today’s video game consoles mimic one another like never before. Video sharing, blu-ray playing, online subscription services, camera operated systems with barely a unique feature between them. With so many apt comparisons to be made, you’d think the modern breed of machine would utterly depend upon its slew of exclusives, and yet their number actually seems to be dwindling. The one exception to this rule is of course the ever-popular racing title, a genre that’s almost entirely composed of console-sponsored exclusives.
PlayStation 4 has its DriveClub, and eventually Gran Turismo 7, while the Xbox One boasts Forza Motorsport 5, and at a stretch — a potential Project Gotham sequel. This split represents a unique opportunity for cross-platform publishers interested in entering the racing game, with similar efforts Need for Speed and Grid usually falling short of their exclusive competition. Enter The Crew, an expansive, socially integrated racer premiering on PC, PS4, and Xbox One later this year.
Developed by Ubisoft Reflections and Ivory Tower, the brand new series— recently previewed by Game Rant — is certainly showing plenty of potential, though Ubi will have a hard time convincing fans of its latest feature — a fully-fledged microtransactions system. The schema, which allows gamers to speed up their progression by purchasing high-end digital car parts for real cash, follows a format typically reserved for free-to-play titles.
Word of the scheme was first unearthed by gaming outlet Videogamer.com, with a Ubisoft representative telling the site:
“We can confirm that performance parts can be unlocked through progression as well as microtransactions […] All content can be unlocked through progression, but for busy gamers who want to save some time, they will have the opportunity to buy some items in-game.”
This official confirmation gels with earlier statements made by creative director Julian Gerighty, who alluded to a “dual currency approach” before promising “We’re not going to stop you from progressing [if you don't spend money], but it’ll be more time.”
While it’s important to re-iterate that every item can also be unlocked in-game, i.e. via grinding, this setup is likely lead to a gross imbalance between players online. It’s quite possible that two equally skilled competitors will now find themselves separated out, not by luck, but by the amount of additional cash poured into their $60 title. The simple fact is, this system is designed to slow players down unless they pay more money for the game which they already will be paying to play.
Are microtransactions an abomination or an inevitable part of the industry? Can The Crew attract a sizeable cross-platform audience? What alternatives are there to these lucrative pay-to-win schemes? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to keep up with all of the latest Ubisoft news, right here on Game Rant.
The Crew will debut on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One platforms, in Quarter 3, 2014.
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