Forza Motorsport 5 may have impressed critics on the whole, but many are irked by what they see as the "breaking" of Career mode to prop up a microtransaction system. As our own reviewer Sam White noted, it takes a good deal longer to earn enough credits to unlock the best cars, the pick of which cost as much as £60 in real money. Are Microsoft and Turn 10 just trying to force people to pay extra for the privilege of owning or driving the swankiest motors?
Besides the changes to credit earning there are certain other, ostensibly telltale omissions, such as the ability to drive any car you please in the Free Play mode - another incentive to cough up. Speaking to Shacknews last night, Turn 10's Dan Greenawalt offered a defence of Forza 5's economy, but conceded that the developer is prepared to tweak it on the basis of player feedback.
"The expectation is that different cars are more expensive and that makes them more rare," he began, when questioned about the rate at which players earn credits. "Because of the classification system, there is no 'top' to the production classes.
"Currently, we have some players earning lots of credits and some players earning not nearly as much. This is a skill- and strategy-based economy with rarity provided by in-game price, not locking mechanisms. Players can receive +65% payout for playing against the hardest skill level Drivatars, up to +50% bonus credit payouts for turning off the assists, and up to +35% payouts for sticking with a favorite manufacturer. That's +150% bonus based on skill and strategy.
"When you couple that with Drivatar rewards, [user-generated content] payouts, and Forza Rewards (our franchise-based loyalty rewards) there are plenty of ways to earn credits in Forza 5. However, the fact remains: racing, skill, and strategy are the engine of the economy. Of course, we continue to monitor the economy via customer feedback as well as in-game telemetry and we have the ability to make adjustments should it be warranted."
The aim behind withholding cars in Free Play, meanwhile, is "to get players to form connections with the cars that mattered most to them and to feel invested in the cars they own". In what sounds rather a lot like dodging the question, Greenawalt added that "having a limited Free Play garage including rentals was introduced in Forza Horizon."
Meanwhile, Microsoft Studios boss Phil Spencer has been chatting to Kotaku about microtransactions on Xbox One at large. "We're still learning," he admitted. "I want to be able to learn from what we put in so let's make sure we are crafting the game and the analytics so we can see what the consumers - the gamers - like and don't - if you assume buying habits are a reflection of what people like so that we can craft the experience better for the gamer."
Spencer is mindful of the risks of allowing players to pay for an in-game advantage. "It's easy to say something like, 'I'll never allow somebody to buy the win of the game, I won't let them buy victory,' but that's kind of a trite answer. I'd say, 'Yeah, I guess I have that line. 'Pay five bucks and get 1000 achievements' or something stupid like that - I'm always pushing against that."
"But, in reality, that's not what the gamers are looking for. They're usually looking for customization and their gameplay style opening up."
Not so long ago, I penned a blog about why we need to conquer our fear of microtransactions. There's definitely a right and a wrong way to go about it - how do you think Microsoft's getting on so far? Visit our Xbox One launch hub for all the review scores so far.