As a reviewer for Culture of Gaming, I take my job seriously. It is my job to take under consideration the intent and the execution of a video game. I then give the game a fair score, taking into account my enjoyment compared to the tastes of one who might love the genre a game falls under. Thanks to Activision, Beenox and the new implementation of microtransactions, I find myself conflicted.
A little over a month ago, I was tasked with Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled. I had a phenomenal time, but there were a couple of nitpicks that kept the score from going higher than it did. Things have changed and not for the better. Two of my nitpicks have evolved to be actively harmful and suddenly, I don’t know how to feel anymore.
The Nits I Picked And How They Morphed Into Microtransactions
I noted in my review that the store rotated what items were for sale daily, much like the shop in Fortnite. I also noted that you win a remarkably small amount of currency for completing each race. Not a big deal, right? Just earn enough to unlock all of the characters, and everything else is cosmetic. No microtransactions at all.
That is until on July 30, 2019, it was revealed what the true motive was all along. Beenox released a message about upcoming changes regarding the next CTR Grand Prix. Microtransactions were always meant to be included. Worse yet, Beenox framed to make a dishonest practice look like no big deal:
“As always, the Pit Stop will be stocked with new and returning characters and cosmetic items, which players can unlock using Wumpa Coins*. With all this content available, there will also now be a way for players to fast-track their Wumpa Coin collection if they like. Starting in early August, players will have the option to purchase Wumpa Coin bundles from their game console stores to supplement the Coins they earn by playing. This option won’t change the game’s core mechanics – players will still earn Wumpa Coins by playing the game in any mode, just as before. They will just able to purchase additional coins if they choose.”
Where I Stand On Microtransactions
The Line Activision Crossed
Circumstances change when a game targeted towards children and teenagers already costs around forty dollars to purchase and enough time has passed where warnings of microtransactions can no longer be put on the cover of the game. All of the reviews are already out. If a parent wishes to buy this for their child, they may not know that their child could spend real money on in-game rewards.
That is what I cannot excuse. I love what Beenox did with Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled. It’s a great game that shows real love to the source material. And if you are an adult and wish to spend your real money on things you can’t use if you ever lose your save data, fine.
It’s waiting until after reviews are out. It’s the fact that they could’ve just made each race earn more in-game currency. These microtransactions prey on kids who want to fit in with their friends at school; kids that “have to” have the exclusive kart that looks like the DeLorean from Back to the Future.
It’s Just Business
Activision can tout all they like that it’s about player choice. In the case of most adults, it is. But Activision had a choice too. They could have made the races earn more in-game currency. The practice of adding microtransactions after reviews are out is predatory. It preys on children, and it makes me sad that such a great game went in this direction.
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I’ve been writing almost as long as I’ve been playing video games. I also do standup and improv. The game that made me realize that video games could be more than just a toy, was Metal Gear Solid 2.