Right up there with always-online requirements, women in gaming and next-gen framerate comparisons, microtransactions are a hot button topic, having created a huge, expanding rift between gamers who feel like they’re being blindsided by hidden costs and developers who want to do everything in their power to recoup the ever growing expenses of game development. Free-to-play has mainly served as the battleground for debates with most of them relying on premium, paid-for currencies that the majority of players never spend money on, but across all types of games it still remains an issue.
It’s even becoming an issue in games that have already been paid for straight out of the gate with Ubisoft’s racing MMO, The Crew, suffering from some backlash after it was announced that the paying the full price game would still still subject players to incentives for those who spend just a little bit more. Forza Motorsport 5 launched with all sorts of issues surrounding its progression system and pay walls and now, another game in the same genre, upcoming PS4 exclusive DriveClub, is set to feature microtransactions too.
Speaking to IGN, DriveClub game director Paul Rustchynsky told the publication that despite microtransactions being a prickly thorn bush the size of the state of Texas, Evolution Studios is looking to avoid falling into it face first, limbs uncovered, by listening to gamers and looking at past microtransaction mistakes.
“We’ve been very keen to take on board the feedback from gamers and make sure we don’t upset anyone. So, in Driveclub, what we’ve done is make sure that the progression system is really straightforward, really simple and gives you access to a lot of content really quickly.”
How the microtransactions in the game work, Rustchynsky explained, is that DriveClub uses a ‘Fame’ system to unlock cars which ties in with the team progress and accolades that were described in a previous video. Fame is earned by winning races and completing challenges, and by earning more of it – and in typical RPG fashion – players level up, gaining access to a shiny new set of wheels with no strings attached. Obviously, unlocking cars in this way may be somewhat of a grind for those who want as much horsepower in their garage as possible so players can just pay to get it sooner, he says.
“If you want to unlock a car immediately, you can pay to unlock that car straight away but it’s not a consumable microtransaction. We don’t let people buy Fame, for example and spend lots and lots. The idea is if you want to shortcut things you can do — it’s identical to what we did in Motorstorm RC. So if you played that, you know what we’re doing here.”
Despite the confidence that Evolution clearly has in their game’s ability not to alienate less cash-strapped players, concerns will still remain especially regarding the ‘pay-to-win’ mentality that some microtransaction-featuring games include. Rustchynsky was also keen to dismiss this, suggesting that DriveClub’s microtransactions will not at all make the gameplay unbalanced or place unlocks ‘out of reach’, thereby encouraging people to spend more. Then again, they’ve literally built in an incentive for the devs to make cars take longer to acquire, thereby to squeeze as much additional money from players as possible – even after they bought the content.
There’s also the question of whether these microtransactions are being included to make more money from those who are playing the PlayStation Plus edition of the game (DriveClub PS+ Plus is free and includes a much smaller amount of cars and locations) so this is something the game looks set to answer on its newly announced release date which you can find out below.
DriveClub will be released on October 7th as a PS4 exclusive.