Microtransactions started as an innocent concept that allowed struggling MMOs to survive by going free-to-play. Most of them, in fact, have embraced the concept rather successfully. Instead of asking players to buy a monthly subscription for a game, it allows gamers to invest exactly as much as they wanted to in a game, while letting everyone else at least try them for free.
More recently, publishers have taken note and started introducing DLC-esque items within full-price games and in some cases, holding content back behind a pay wall, essentially nickel-and-diming players. The payment method is becoming a depressing norm, but some free triple-A free-to-play do it right, including Blacklight Retribution and Warframe, both of which launched alongside the PlayStation 4.
Earlier this year, the concept earned a little heat when EA and Visceral Games put microtransactions into Dead Space 3, thus changing how the pay model previously worked. Customers were now expected to pay full price for a game and then invest further for add-ons that weren’t DLC. Defenders of the decision claimed it was “optional” but made no mention of how those optional financial incentives negatively affect game design and player progress.
With the new generation of gaming hitting shelves, gamers have found that several major launch titles sport microtransactions with possibly the most noteable case being the Xbox One exclusive Forza Motorsport 5. Even with the game being one of the best reviewed next-gen titles, it has come under heavy criticism for putting several cars behind expensive pay walls.
To add insult to injury Forza 5 also has significantly less content (cars and tracks) than its predecessor. The game is stringent with its in-game payouts causing players to grind tracks several times in order to pay for expensive cars, while constantly reminding them of the option to use tokens (which cost real money) to level up faster or buy cars quicker. When considering there are less cars to play with and some behind a pay wall as well, it is not hard to see where frustrations spawn from.
Looking for some answers, Shack News interviewed the game’s creative director Dan Greenawalt about the reasoning to include microtransactions.
“Having a limited Free Play garage including rentals was introduced in Forza Horizon. Our goal was to get players to form connections with the cars that mattered most to them and to feel invested in the cars they own.”
While there is logic to the answer, it is not very sound. The answer suggests that the only way for players to become invested in their cars is to literally invest money into them. So instead of spending hours levelling up and improving a car with time, gamers instead should be spending money to feel an attachment.
This is, frankly speaking, misguided. Even as an experiment to see if the concept could work, it seems a harsh experiment to push onto consumers.
The team at Turn 10 Studios has been listening to player concerns and are attempting to make changes to the in-game economy by announcing several new incentives to win players back. Starting today until December 1, every car in the game will be 50% off.
Also, every player with a VIP membership will get a free 2013 Lotus E21 grand prix car. If you already have that then you will get the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. Also for players who have the Car Pass or LaFerrari Car Pack, they will get a free 2013 LaFerrari delivered to their garage.
To make things easier on drivers, the whole economic structure of Forza 5 is getting lick of paint too. The game is going to be “dramatically” increasing the amount of credit payout earned in games during December. Turn 10 left a tip to players to capitalise on this accelerated economy.
“The higher your Tier level reaches before December rolls around, the better the rewards you’ll be able to redeem, so get your play time in now and level up!”
The team also noted that the Limited Edition of the game was advertised to come with 1,250 in-game tokens which would be enough to buy any car in the game. This was not true so Turn 10 has promised to let Limited Edition owners pick any car they want to own “soon”.
While it is good to see the developer recognize the problem, many of these changes only have a short term significance or are only applicable for players who invested in special passes beyond the already expensive core game. Games as an ongoing service is something that is becoming more regular and that needn’t be a bad thing. Forza 5 is a great car simulator and it is just a shame to see it being hurt by some awkward business implementation and some anti-consumer design goals.
Source: Shack News